Concept

Battle of Long Tan

Summary
The Battle of Long Tan (18 August 1966) took place in a rubber plantation near Long Tân, in Phước Tuy Province, South Vietnam, during the Vietnam War. The action was fought between Viet Cong (VC) and People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) units and elements of the 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF). Australian signals intelligence (SIGINT) had tracked the VC 275th Regiment and D445 Battalion moving to a position just north of Long Tan. By 16 August, it was positioned near Long Tan outside the range of the 1 ATF artillery at Nui Dat. Using mortars and recoilless rifles (RCLs), on the night of 16/17 August, the VC attacked Nui Dat from a position to the east, until counter-battery fire made it stop. The next morning D Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (6 RAR), departed Nui Dat to locate the firing positions and determine the direction of the VC withdrawal. D Company found weapon pits and firing positions for mortars and RCLs, and around midday on 18 August made contact with VC elements. Facing a larger force, D Company called in artillery support. Heavy fighting ensued as the VC attempted to encircle and destroy the Australians, who were resupplied several hours later by two UH-1B Iroquois from No. 9 Squadron RAAF. With the help of strong artillery fire, D Company held off a regimental assault before a relief force of M113 armoured personnel carriers and infantry from Nui Dat reinforced them that night. Australian forces then pulled back to evacuate their casualties and formed a defensive position; when they swept through the area next day, the VC had withdrawn and the operation ended on 21 August. Although 1 ATF initially viewed Long Tan as a defeat, the action was later re-assessed as a strategic victory since it prevented the VC moving against Nui Dat. The VC also considered it a victory, due to the political success of an effective ambush and securing of the area around the village. Whether the battle impaired the capabilities of the VC is disputed.
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