Bob Hall, Andrew Ross and Derrill de Heer
This website contains data relating to the 1 RAR battalion group tour of duty in Vietnam from May 1965 to June 1966. Data relating to 1 RAR’s second tour as part of 1st Australian Task Force, is already contained in the 1ATF data shown on the website.
The data relating to the 1 RAR battalion group has been derived from 1 RAR War Diaries held in the collections of the Australian War Memorial digital records. The data has been extracted from AWM95 Subclass 7/1 – 1 Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. We have extracted for inclusion in the website, information about those combat incidents that seem most important in explaining the contribution of 1 RAR to the campaign. The 1 RAR War Diaries contain much more information than we have displayed in this website. For example the War Diaries refer to numerous 1 RAR TAOR patrols which result in no contact with the enemy. We have excluded those from this website, but they or other information we have judged to be unimportant, may be important to other research projects. We recommend to researchers that they use our website as a way of accessing the 1 RAR data but that they explore the War Diaries more widely if they are interested in information we may have excluded.
We have made our best effort to capture an accurate picture of the 1 RAR campaign. We would welcome corrections, clarifications or additional information from 1 RAR veterans and we invite 1 RAR veterans and others to use the ‘add notes’ capability to add their stories and upload their images relating to the events depicted on the website.
The 1 RAR battalion group data
In the data displayed on the website we have included the following:
- Combat incidents including contacts and mine/booby trap incidents
- Installation reports
- Unit deployments
- Some command incidents (e.g., change of Commanding Officer)
- Some accidents/friendly fire/civil affairs incidents
We used the 1 RAR War Diaries, plus the more detailed After Action Reports and Installation Reports to add detail.
The After Action Report used by 1 RAR was simpler than the version used later by units of 1 ATF. As a result, there is less data available about 1 RAR first tour operations, and fewer analytical capabilities can be applied to the 1 RAR data.
The 1 RAR After Action Report took the following form:
Report by no…………..rank………….name…………
Time of action
Location (6 figure grid ref, but sometimes a code word or LZ nickname, etc, is used)
Unit/sub-unit task (e.g., patrol, search and destroy op, ambush, etc)
- A contact?
- An incident? (answered with a tick or ‘yes’/’no’)
Summary of action in chronological sequence.
- Type of VC (eg, guerrilla, main force, local force, etc.)
- VC casualties:
- VCC (i.e., VC captured)
Signed (by patrol commander)
Signed (by company commander)
Observations about the data displayed in the website
Researchers using the website to examine the 1 RAR battalion group data should note the following:
- 1 RAR battalion group under the US system tended to number their ops rather than name them. Some have both a number and a name, so we have included both in the database (eg, Op 3/66, Op Hump).
- In some cases, both section and platoon commanders submitted a report about the same incident. This provides extra perspectives and additional detail about the incident.
- Duration of the incident is mentioned in many cases. We have tried to include this in the description of each incident.
- The summary paragraph is often the most useful part of the contact report. Sometimes we were able to tell whether an incident was an ambush or a bunker attack etc., from the description. But often there was no information about the type of incident. Researchers may be able to get a better picture of the incident from some of the incident descriptions. For example, we think it can be a reasonable assumption that any contact that occurred after nightfall, was either an ambush of the enemy or a security contact. There appear to have been few night patrols and certainly no bunker attacks at night.
- The After Action Report often recorded the names of those 1 RAR men KIA and WIA. We have included this detail in the incident description. 1ATF After Action Reports did not record this information.
- 1 RAR reports almost always included an estimate of enemy strength. Sometimes this was expressed as a range. If that was the case, we used the lower end of the range as the figure in the database. For example, if the range was ‘8 to 10 enemy’, we used ‘8’.
- Information not available in the 1 RAR After Action Reports (when compared with the 1ATF After Action Reports) includes:
- Any detail about terrain.
- Range of visibility/engagement
- A sketch map (there are one or two of these, but these are very rare compared to the 1ATF reports which frequently include a sketch map of the incident).
- Any info about friendly force strength. Luckily, a small number of reports do state the friendly force strength, and the fact that some reports were filed by section commanders implies that only their section (in a platoon or company patrol) was involved in the incident. In the absence of detailed information about the friendly force strength in contact we used ‘standardised’ strength figures which we believe, tend to be too generous. For example, we have used 100 for a company, 30 for a platoon, and 10 for a section. We are aware that sub-units often went on operations well below their authorised strength, so these friendly strength figures should be treated as indicative only.
1 RAR battalion group Installation Reports were also much simpler than those filed by 1ATF. A particular problem with 1 RAR battalion group installation reports is that they were not dated, so it was often extremely difficult to link an Installation Report to a specific installation described as having been found in the War Diary.
In the first months of operations, the 1 RAR battalion group War Diary tends to be very detailed (covering the period from May to December 65). However, in 1966, possibly in response to the change in Commanding Officer, or to growing familiarity with operations, the War Diaries became much less detailed. From January 1966 the War Diaries more frequently recorded locations using a codeword or other name (e.g., ‘sector G’ or ‘LZ Queen’). We have managed to track most of these down using topographical maps and have inserted what we believe to be the relevant grid references.
Also, in some cases the War Diaries were rather vague about what had happened. In a small number of cases they merely record that a casualty had been inflicted on a 1 RAR man without any further explanation. We think this may be due to the high frequency of contact in some 1RAR operations. There is one operation in which the War Diary simply states that the battalion was in constant contact throughout the operation. Similarly, in some operations, so many installations were found that we think 1 RAR gave up attempting to record them all.