As it is currently configured, the ‘Australia’s Vietnam War’ website provides a unique, interactive method of studying a major component of Australia’s war in Vietnam. But, at the moment, it only deals with the combat operations of the 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF). Over the next year or so, we’re planning to expand the website so that it provides a much more comprehensive picture of all facets of the Australian and New Zealand contribution. In particular, we want to add details about the 1RAR battalion group operations, the operations of the RAAF and RAN and details of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam, Headquarters Australian Force Vietnam, 1st Australian Logistic Support Group and the non-combat elements of 1ATF.
There’s a lot of work involved in achieving this and while several members of the research team are retired and work full-time for the project for no pay, other, younger contributors to the research team have mortgages to pay and kids to raise, so they need to have their time rewarded with a salary. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to secure a source of funding. Without secure funding, the project will still proceed, but any effort we expend on it will have to fit in around the income-earning work some of our research team members require to do. As a result progress may sometimes seem excruciatingly slow and we may miss some of the 50th anniversaries we intended to highlight on the website as we roll forward through 2016 and beyond. But please have patience with the website.
In the meantime, if you know of any sources of funding we may be able to tap, please let us know.
For simplicity’s sake we’re calling the expanded version of the website ‘Phase 2’. We’re planning to launch it in May 2016 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the deployment of the Task Force to Phuoc Tuy Province.
What do we hope will be new about the Phase 2 website?
Website Phase 2
In Phase 2, the website will retain its current information relating to the operations of 1ATF. However, to this base, we expect to add details of the following:
- The Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV)
- 1RAR battalion group
- 1st Australian Logistic Support Group
- Details of non-combat elements of 1st Australian Task Force
- Royal Australian Navy operations including:
- Naval Gunfire Support missions
- RAN Helicopter Flight, Vietnam
- RAN Clearance Diver operations
- HMAS Sydney operations
- Royal Australian Air Force operations including:
- 9 Squadron RAAF helicopter operations
- 2 Squadron RAAF Canberra bomber operations
- 35 Squadron RAAF Caribou operations
- 1st Australian Civil Affairs Unit: Details of every Civic Action project plotted on the maps of the Australian AO.
- Village data: A comprehensive collection of social, economic, and security information about every one of 150 hamlets in Phuoc Tuy Province.
Commemorating the fallen
A key component of the Phase 2 website will be the commemoration of the fallen. Linked to each combat site at which an Australian or New Zealand soldier, sailor or airman fell in battle will be that man’s photograph and biographical sketch. The photograph and bio sketch of non-battle casualties will be linked, as far as possible, to the location of the unit they served in at the time of their death.
Users will be able to read in-depth histories of individual units at various levels – battalion, company, platoon or lower. A variety of facts and statistics will be presented, such as the identities of those who served, casualties, actions fought in and tours of duty. Comparative analysis will be presented with graphs, enabling the unit’s actions to be viewed in the context of the broader campaign. These unit snapshots are anticipated to be a valuable educational and research tool.
Establishing the broader historical context for the campaign is an important consideration in an historical website such as this. Contextualisation will be achieved through the building of several timelines. These timelines will include:
- A political/diplomatic timeline displaying events such as Vietnamese elections, US Presidential elections, Australian elections and the various diplomatic developments such as the Paris Peace Talks, the creation of the Provisional Revolutionary Government, the death of Ho Chi Minh and similar events.
- A timeline of major military developments such as the battles of Binh Gia, Long Tan, Coral, Balmoral, Binh Ba, etc., and the Tet Offensive of 1968, Khe Sanh, Hamburger Hill, mini-Tet, and Tet ’69, etc.
- A timeline of unit tours, personalities and commanders.
- A troop strength timeline showing the fluctuations in Australian, New Zealand, US, Thai, Korean, and South Vietnamese troop strength during the war.
- Data about the anti-war movement in Australia and the US will also be available on the website. This will include major anti-war demonstrations including the moratorium marches and polling showing the ebb and flow of public attitudes to the National Service scheme and the Vietnam War.
Having your say
We’ll be including in the Phase 2 website the capacity for you to add your say about your part in the campaign if you were a logistician in 1ALSG, a member of the RAN or RAAF, a tradesman in the Civil Affairs Unit, or if you performed any one of the thousands of jobs that made up the Australian and New Zealand contribution to the war. We want to hear what you did, see your photographs, and find out what you felt at the time – and feel today – about your Vietnam service.
The work, the work…
There’s a lot of work involved in making all of this happen, but we think it’s worth it. We think our website already gives a unique picture of the development of a major military campaign and that the Phase 2 developments will further cement it as a unique source of data about the Australian and New Zealand involvement in the Vietnam War. We think that our website should form a model for the presentation to the public of information about future Australian military campaigns. In short, it should become a model for a digital ‘official history’ of future campaigns.
Keep an eye on the site. As we get closer to our planned launch date of May 2016 we’ll post news about the enhancements we’ve built into the Phase 2 website.