Other RAN Deployments in Support of Australian Forces

Robert HallArticles, Royal Australian NavyLeave a Comment

Royal Australian Navy Fleet Band

In 1970, the Fleet Bandmaster, Lieutenant W.W. Farrell, RAN, put forward a proposal that the RAN Fleet Band conduct a concert tour in South Vietnam during the forthcoming Far East deployment in HMAS Melbourne. Once the tour had been sanctioned by the Naval Board and COMAFC, the Naval Staff in Saigon, Commander I.W. Hall, RAN, arranged a comprehensive itinerary before the contingent arrived in Saigon on 26 May.

Over the next ten days, the musicians gave 28 performances to appreciative audiences in Vung Tau, Nui Dai, Phan Rang, Bear Cat and Saigon. They also performed in front of South Vietnamese citizens in Saigon and Baria, and the American Forces Television Network. The band departed Vung Tau for Singapore on 3 June. Their visit was an unqualified success.

Naval Staff Office, Saigon

Soon after the RAN deployed CDT3, HMAS Hobart and the RANHFV to Vietnam in 1967, it moved to establish a permanent naval presence in the Headquarters, Australian Force Vietnam, comprising one officer and one senior sailor from the Writer category. Lieutenant Commander D.C. Bennet, RAN, and Chief Petty Officer Writer K. Gardiner arrived in Vietnam in October 1967 and set up their office in the Free World Military Assistance Organisation Building.

Between October 1967 and August 1971, Bennet and his two successors, Commander M. de V. Salmon, RAN and Commander I.W. Hall, RAN, attended to all manner of administrative matters on behalf of deployed units and coordinated the movement of personnel, mail and items of stores. They also attended weekly operation briefings and escorted senior officers on official visits.

Medical Officers

In addition to the medical officers who served in ships at sea, the RAN medical branch was represented ashore in Vietnam by thirteen officers drawn from the RAN, RANR and RANVR. They were posted for service in the 1st Australian Field Hospital, and US Army and USN hospitals, and participated in Medical Civil Action Program projects in local villages. Their individual deployments lasted on average about two to three months.


A small group of naval chaplains visited RAN units deployed for service in Vietnam, providing pastoral care and attending to the spiritual and emotional needs of service personnel. The chaplains did not limit themselves to visiting Australian units only, and freely gave their services to allied military personnel serving both ashore and at sea.

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