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Hero Long Tan commander Harry Smith dies, age 90.

daftandbarmy

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RIP mate....

And I'm sure the movie did not do the real action justice...



The commander whose regiment fought off repeated attacks from Viet Cong during the Battle of Long Tan – a battle now etched in Australian folklore – has died.

Lieutenant Colonel Harry Arthur Smith SG, MC (25 July 1933 – 20 August 2023) was a senior officer in the Australian Army, seeing service during the Malayan Emergency and the Vietnam War. He was the Officer Commanding D Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (D Coy, 6 RAR) during the Battle of Long Tan on 18 August 1966.

Early years:
Harry Arthur Smith was born in Hobart, Tasmania on 25 July 1933.

Military career:
After service as a National Serviceman, Smith joined the Australian Regular Army and graduated as second lieutenant from the Officer Cadet School, Portsea. He was subsequently posted to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment in 1955 and later served during the Malayan Emergency between 1955 and 1957.

Battle of Long Tan:
From 8 June 1966 to 14 June 1967, Smith, then a major, was Officer Commanding D Coy, 6 RAR. On 18 August, after heavy mortar shelling of the Australian base at Nui Dat the previous night, companies from 6 RAR were sent out to locate the Vietnamese units involved. Smith led the 105 soldiers of D Coy and the 3 man NZ Artillery Party out on patrol, but at 3:15 pm, while patrolling a rubber plantation at Long Tan that afternoon, they encountered a reinforced regiment-sized Vietnamese force (the Viet Cong 275th Regiment, supported by the North Vietnamese Army 806 Battalion and D440 and D445 Battalions) attempting to advance on the base. A monsoon struck at the same time, but Smith organised his forces to successfully hold off the assault, while coordinating support from Australian, New Zealand, and United States artillery units back at Nui Dat. D Coy was reinforced at 6:55 pm by a B Company Platoon then A Company in APCs, the Vietnamese having started to withdraw. 18 Australians were killed and 24 wounded during the Battle of Long Tan, but under Smith's command, D Coy had fended off a numerically superior force, with at least 245 Vietnamese confirmed as killed, and another 500 believed wounded. 800 enemy killed or died from wounds were listed in records found in 1969. 9 Delta Company men were given gallantry awards, but many of these had been downgraded from the original nomination: Smith's leadership of his men during the fierce fighting saw him recommended for the Distinguished Service Order, but he instead received the Military Cross. Smith is portrayed by Travis Fimmel in the 2019 film Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan.

Post-war service:
Following service in Vietnam, Smith commanded 1 Commando Company at Georges Heights and was later posted as the inaugural CO/CI of the Parachute Training School. Smith left the Army in 1976 after a parachuting injury.

Upgrading of award:
On 14 August 2008, after years of campaigning for better recognition of Long Tan veterans, Smith's Military Cross was upgraded to the Star of Gallantry (the Australian honours system replacement for the Commonwealth Distinguished Service Order). On the same day, two others who fought at Long Tan had their bravery awards upgraded to correspond to the original nominations. On 9 March 2011 at the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum, Smith was presented with the Star of Gallantry by local MP Paul Neville. Many of the Long Tan veterans were in attendance for the ceremony.
Death:

Harry Smith died in Buderim, Queensland on 20 August 2023, at the age of 90.

 
Go to YouTube and you will find lots of info re the battle including interviews of the participants. Also the story of the long battle with the bureaucracy to upgrade the distinguished service.
 
Reading how the battle unfolded is very reminiscent of the 7th Cav's Battle of Ia Drang in 1965, a la "We Were Soldiers"...I've watched some interviews with folks that were there, was intrigued by the asshatery required to get a Fire Mission - Regiment in, as there was a US Army 155 battery on call for them as well as the Kiwi pack 105mm's, and they HQ rats didn't want to risk the 155 rounds coming in danger close. All in all a very hairy action.
 
Reading how the battle unfolded is very reminiscent of the 7th Cav's Battle of Ia Drang in 1965, a la "We Were Soldiers"...I've watched some interviews with folks that were there, was intrigued by the asshatery required to get a Fire Mission - Regiment in, as there was a US Army 155 battery on call for them as well as the Kiwi pack 105mm's, and they HQ rats didn't want to risk the 155 rounds coming in danger close. All in all a very hairy action.
Does that surprise you?
 
Honestly no - reading/hearing accounts of things, I don't think they believed how big the enemy force really was, much like with the 2/7th in Ia Drang.
 
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