Virtual Battlespace: Australians in Vietnam

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BIA has developed an interactive educational product designed to teach Australian service personnel about the historic battles of Long Tan and Coral Balmoral during the Vietnam War. Australians in Vietnam was delivered to the Australian Army in late 2005, incorporating a cut-down version of the VBS1 engine and two Vietnam-style terrain areas modelled from topographic maps of the actual battlefields. Twelve scenarios were included that recreate the experience of fighting as a soldier during these battles.

The Story

Australians in Vietnam pays tribute to the brave soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War, and provides today's generation of defence personnel with a knowledge and respect for the events that occurred and the courage involved.

The Battle of Long Tan

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When, in March 1966, the Australian Government decided to increase the Australian presence in Vietnam to a full Australian Task Force (ATF), based at Nui Dat.

From there, the ATF was given the task of securing the province of Phuoc Tuy, southeast of Saigon. Two Australian regiments, 5 and 6 RAR, were based at Nui Dat, a piece of high ground surrounded by rubber plantations, and by 14 June, 1966, Nui Dat was nearly fully operational.

At Long Tan, it has been estimated that the Australians faced around 2500 Viet Cong, and D Company became only the second Army unit in military history to receive a United States Presidential Unit Citation. 15 members were given Commonwealth awards for their courage during the battle, including the Military Cross awarded to their commander, Major Harry Smith.

Battle of Coral-Balmoral

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This operation was mounted by 1 ATF through Long Ichan and then Bien Hoa Province to disrupt enemy forces massing for attacks on the Saigon/Cholon area and Bien Hoal/Long Binh Complex. The major battles were fought at FSB Coral and Balmoral, 20km north of Bien Hoa. SB Coral was occupied by 1 RAR. On the nights of 12th/13th May and 15th/16th May 1968, 1RAR and supporting elements repulsed enemy attacks in battalion and regimental strength.

Offensive operations had commenced from the time Coral had first been occupied. With the insertion of 1 ATF into AO Surfers, the enemy divisions were continually provoked by the positioning of FSB Balmoral and by aggressive patrolling.

The major actions are only recounted at this stage. On 25th May, at 07:30hrs, B Coy 1 RAR, with 2 Troop, C Sqn 1 Armd Regt, departed for FSB Balmoral, with 3 RAR some 6000m away. En-route and just before midday, the force struck the outskirts of an enemy defended base some 2500m north of Coral. There was a sharp action and the group broke contact to allow air strikes to be directed at the enemy position. The tanks remained at Balmoral with 3 RAR.