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Vietnam Time Line

Calandar of Military and Political Events
14 Jan 1950 Nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh, who had trained in the Soviet Union but received aid from the US to fight the Japanese during World War II, declares that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam is the only legal government. This is recognised by the Soviet Union and China, but Australia supports the French-sponsored government of Emperor Bao Dai. Us provides military and economic aid to the French in Indochina.
7 May 1954 French defeated by Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu, after a 55 day siege. The defeat signals the end to French presence in Indochina.
1955 US begins to funnel aid directly to the Saigon Government and agrees to train the South Vietnamese army
Sep 1957 South Vietnam's President Ngo Dinh Diem visits Australia. Prime Minister Menzies reaffirms support.
20 Dec 1960 Hanoi leaders form National Liberation Front for South Vietnam, which the Saigon regime dubs "Viet Cong", meaning communist Vietnamese.
24 May 1962 The Minister for Defence (Reginald Townley) announces intention to send 30 army advisers to South Vietnam (SVN).
03 Aug 1962 The first members of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) arrive in South Vietnam.
01 Jun 1963 Advisor, Sergeant William Hacking becomes the first Australian to die in Vietnam when his weapon accidentally discharges after being caught in vegetation.
01 Nov 1963 Vietnam's President Diem and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu are murdered in a military coup, with the foreknowledge of the US Government.
22 Nov 1963 Lyndon B. Johnson becomes US president after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and announces that the US will continue support of South Vietnam. By year's end 15,000 US advisors are serving in Vietnam, which received $500m in US aid that year.
08 Jun 1964 The Minister for Defence (Hon. Shane Partridge) announces the AATTV will be increased to 83 advisers with expanded role.
06 Jul 1964 Warrant Officer Class 2, Kevin Conway becomes the first Australian to die as a result of enemy action in South Vietnam.
7 Aug 1964 Following a reported attack on US ships in Tonkin Gulf, US Congress passes Tonkin Gulf Resolution giving President Johnson extraordinary powers to act in South Vietnam
10 Nov 64 The Prime Minister (Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Menzies) announces introduction of national service to increase the army’s strength from 22,750 to 37,500. Opposition to the war in Vietnam is not accepted as a reason for exemption.
18 Dec 64 Australian Government, responding to requests from the US President and South Vietnam Prime Minister for 200 additional advisers, offers to send ground troops to South Vietnam.
29 Apr1965 The Prime Minister announces the dispatch of an infantry battalion to South Vietnam, with an armoured personnel carrier (APC) troop, a signals troop and a logistic support company.
24 May1965 Advance party from 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR), departs for South Vietnam, for service with the US 173rd Airborne Division
17 Aug 1965 Australian Government approves increase of Australian forces to a battalion group, supported by an artillery, additional APCs, engineers, army helicopters, light aircraft and more logistic support
Sep 1965 A Morgan Gallup Poll finds 56% of those polled were in favour of continuing the war in Vietnam.
22 Oct 1965 A demonstration against the war in Sydney results in 65 arrests.
13 Nov 1965 WO2 Kevin "Dasher" Wheatley refuses to leave his mate, WO2 Bob Swanston, and is killed. His actions earned him Australia’s highest honour, the Victoria Cross.
26 Jan 1966 Harold Holt succeeds Menzies as Prime Minister.
06 Mar 1966 Holt announces the Australian commitment in South Vietnam will be Increased to a 4350-man task force, and will include conscripts.

The 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF) will include two infantry battalions, a Special Air Service squadron, combat and support logistic units and eight RAAF Iroquois helicopters (9 SQN).

The Task Force will be supported by 1 Australian Logistic Support Group (1 ALSG) to be established at Vung Tau. For the first time, national servicemen will be sent to South Vietnam.

24 May 1966 5 RAR deploys by helicopter from 1ATF concentration area at Vung Tau to secure the Task Force area at Nui Dat. Private Errol Noack becomes the first national serviceman and member of 1ATF to die from enemy action.
04 Jun 1966 Concentration of 1ATF at Nui Dat is completed.
18 Aug 1966

The Battle of Long Tan

D Company, 6 RAR, strength of 108 men, battles North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Viet Cong (VC) forces estimated at between 1500 and 2500 until relieved by A Company, carried in by armoured personnel carriers of 3 Troop, 1 APC Squadron. The enemy leaves 245 bodies on the battlefield while 17 Australian infantrymen and one APC crewman are killed. The Company earns the US Presidential Citation.

19 Nov 1966 Morgan Gallup Poll finds that 63% are in favour of conscription, but only 37% approve of sending National Servicemen to Vietnam.
07 Apr 1967 Major Peter Badcoe, AATTV, is killed in action leading two companies of Vietnamese regional forces. For his outstanding heroism in this and two previous actions, he will be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross
26 May 1967 A New Zealand rifle company - V Company of the 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Regiment (RNZIR) - arrives at Nui Dat to serve with 2 RAR. The Australian Battalion is re-designated 2RAR/NZ/ANZAC.
May 1967 Morgan Gallup Poll finds 62% in favour of continuing the war in Vietnam.
18 Oct 1967 The Prime Minister announces an increase of 1700 to Australia’s commitment in South Vietnam, including a third infantry battalion and a tank squadron.
17 Nov 1967 Prime Minister Harold Holt missing, presumed drowned off Portsea in Victoria. His body is never recovered.
28 Dec 1967 3 RAR establishes itself at Nui Dat as 1 ATF’s third battalion.
10 Jan 1968 John Grey Gorton sworn in as Prime Minister.
29 Jan 1968 Communist forces in South Vietnam launch what becomes known as the Tet Offensive, with concentrated attacks against every major city and regional centre. Although Tet costs the Communists 45-50,000 troops, it sows serious doubt in the minds of the Australian and American people and leads to major changes in government policy towards the conflict in South Vietnam.
16 Mar 1968 Massacre of civilians by US soldiers at My Lai village. At least 450 unarmed people are killed.
26 May 1968 At FSB Balmoral, near Coral, infantry supported by Centurions tanks turn back an assault by two battalions of NVA regulars.
27 May 1968 A sweep outside Coral by D Company 1 RAR, supported by four Centurion tanks, smashes an enemy bunker systems and kills large numbers of VC and NVA.
28 May 1968 A second attack on Balmoral is crushed by combined infantry, tank, artillery and mortar fire, leaving 47 enemy dead and six prisoners for 1 Australian killed.
6/11 May 1968 Serving as a company commander with a Vietnamese mobile strike force, WO2 Ray Simpson displays outstanding heroism and disregard for personal safety in two firefights with enemy forces. His actions will make him the third member of the AATTV to be awarded the Victoria Cross.
24 May 1969 WO2 Keith Payne, also a company commander with a mobile strike force, earns the AATTV’s fourth Victoria Cross.
06 Jun 1969

The Battle of Binh Bah

Two companies from 5 RAR, supported by APC and Tank troops and Australian helicopter gunships, engage in house-to-house fighting to clear the town of a strong force of NVA regulars. The fighting destroys much of the town and costs the NVA more than 100 dead for the loss of one Australian.

Aug 1969 Morgan Gallup Poll finds 55% want Australians brought home from Vietnam.
3 Sep 1969 Ho Chi Minh dies in Hanoi, aged 79.
22 Apr 1970 The Prime Minister announces 8 RAR will not be replaced at the end of the year, some support elements will be withdrawn from South Vietnam and the AATTV will be increased by about 120 soldiers.
08 May 1970 Anti-Vietnam War protesters stage the first moratorium marches in Australian cities (70,000 in Melbourne, and about 120,000 throughout Australia).
18 Seo 1970 About 100,000 people take part in a second moratorium march.
12 Nov 1970 8 RAR returns to Australia at the end of its 12 month tour in South Vietnam. It is the first 1ATF unit not to be replaced.
10 Mar 1971 Sir William McMahon replaces Gorton as Liberal leader and Prime Minister.
30 Mar 1971 Prime Minister McMahon announces further cuts in Australian forces in South Vietnam, including withdrawal of the tank squadron, RAAF Canberra bomber squadron and some Caribou transport aircraft.
30 Jun 1971 Third and last of the big anti-war rallies. About 110,000 demonstrate in State capitals.
18 Aug 1971 The Prime Minister announces the bulk of Australian forces in South Vietnam are to be withdrawn, leaving only a modified training team. The period of national service is reduced from two years to 18 months.
06 Oct 1971 3 RAR is airlifted onto HMS Sydney, leaving only one battalion at Nui Dat.
07 Nov 1971 4 RAR moves out of Nui Dat to Vung Tau, ending Australian combat operations in Phuoc Tuy province.
27 Jan 1972 USA and North Vietnam sign a peace agreement.
05 Mar 1972 The last Australian logistic units leave Vung Tau and Australia’s commitment in South Vietnam returns to a training role with the 150-man Australian Assistance Group, Vietnam (AAAGV) and the AATTV.
02 Dec 1972 Australian Labor Party elected to Government.
05 Dec 1972 Conscription ends, draft resisters are released from jail and pending prosecutions for draft resistance are dropped.
08 Dec 1972 Australia’s military commitment in South Vietnam ends, although controversy about the precise end date of the war continues.
23 Jan 1973 Nixon announces agreement that has been reached for 'peace with honour'.
27 Jan 1973 Ceasefire begins.
26 Feb 1973 Prime Minister Gough Whitlam announces establishment of diplomatic relations with Hanoi, but retains recognition of South Vietnam's Government.
29 Mar 1973 Last US troops leave Vietnam.
0 April 1973 International Conference on Vietnam receives first official complaints of violations to the ceasefire.
30 Jun 1973 The Saigon Embassy Guard Platoon are the last Australian troops to leave Vietnam.
04 Jan 1974 South Vietnam's President Nguyen Van Thieu declares that war has begun again.
29 Mar 1975

Australian Government responds to urgent requests for transport assistance from Governments of South Vietnam and United States by hastily dispatching a contingent of seven RAAF Hercules and two Dakota aircraft to Vietnam on a humanitarian relief mission

The RAAF is utilized in various roles during final weeks of the war, including movement of refugees, transport of Red Cross and UN supplies, and on 4th and 17th April, evacuation of Vietnamese war orphans from Saigon to Bangkok during 'Operation Baby Lift'.

17 Apr 1975 Phnom Penh, Cambodia falls to the Khmer Rouge
25 Apr 1975

Australia closes its embassy in Saigon, completing withdrawal from Vietnam on ANZAC Day.

The final task of Australia's military in the Vietnam War is conducted on ANZAC Day, when the RAAF participates in evacuation of the Australian Embassy and final withdrawal of personnel from Saigon

30 Apr 1975 Communist forces capture Saigon as the last Americans leave in scenes of panic and confusion.
Courtesy of the VVAA Museum Sub-Branch. Includes material from the Special Edition of the Australian on Thursday August 18 1988, with attribution to Stuart Rintoul's "Ashes of Vietnam" (William Heineman, Australia).