The Principles of War Podcast
Long Tan Battle
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28 – Long tan 6: The transition to the defence

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This episode of the podcast sees the transition from the encounter battle through to D Coy moving to being completely on the defensive.

11 Pl becomes decisively engaged, with enemy flanking to the north whilst being engaged by 3 MGs from the front.  As 11 Pl starts the call for fire, MAJ Smith calls for reinforcements in order to regain the initiative.

As the tempo of the artillery support increases, the audience at the Little Patty concert moves away to support the Coy in contact.

10 Pl moves towards the foot hills to the north, observing a force attempting to flank 11 Pl.

The Task Force initially refuses to reinforce the NZ 161 Bty, requiring time consuming switching between targets and adjustment.  On later is 161 reinforced with 2 further batteries.

2LT Dave Sabbens 12 Pl detaches a section to provide security to CHQ and moves off 2 up to attempt to marry up with 11 Pl.

By now 2 hours into the battle, each Pl has a bty in support.  10 Pl is down to 50% ammunition and requests and ammo resupply.  This is initially refused.  The pilots who had bought up Little Patty to Nui Dat.

The US resupply would be 30 minutes which could be too late.  Moral and physical courage is shown by the RAAF pilots as they ignore restrictions from Canberra about flying into contact in order to provide supply to the troops in contact.

The situation is so desperate that SGT Bob Buick, the PL SGT in 11 Pl calls in artillery on his on position.  The FO refuses to bring the artillery onto their position, but brings the rounds in as close as possible.

11 Pl moves back marry up with 12 Pl and they commence to move back to CHQ.

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L.S. Sempel August 25, 2019 at 11:15 pm

A brilliant series, helps me understand a lot more than a ranker does in the field. Thank you. It helps me understand what I did when I served there.

James Eling October 9, 2019 at 6:54 am

Thank you. It’s sad that the story doesn’t make it’s way down to everyone so they know what is going on.


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