Harry Smith discusses the final stages of the Battle of Long, logistics, C2 and reinforcements were key components of the battle after D Coy became decisvely engaged.
This is Part IV of our interview with LT COL Harry Smith, the OC of Delta Coy / 6 RAR at the Battle of Long Tan. If you missed the first episode, check it out here.
While you are listening to this episode have a think about what is the role of Battalion HQ and TF HQ when a Coy becomes decisively engaged? How can the higher HQ assist in battle management?
Harry talks about the weapons that they had – for those with the SLR there were 3 magazines of 20 rounds, plus extra rounds in cardboard boxes on each soldier. Altogether they fired 10,500 rounds of small arms ammunition. What was the process for ammunition resupply and how the RAAF supported the mission, despite it being against RAAF standing orders. Long Tan logistics were one of the key actions that enabled D Coy to survive long enough for the NVA/VC to start their withdrawal.
Interestingly enough, D Coy had some Armalites that had been handed down from 1RAR. Although they were short of cleaning equipment, Harry thought they worked really well. He requested Armalites to replace the Owen guns which he didn’t think had enough stopping power. The Armalite was the forerunner of the M-16 which had a very troubled introduction into service in Vietnam. The M-60 had trouble with rounds dragging through the mud and jamming. Only half of the M-60s were still firing at the end of the battle.
What was the process for the organisation of reinforcements? Why did it take so long for reinforcements to be organised?
What happened after the battle? Who retained the battlefield and why was retaining the ground so important?
Harry talks about his experience and memories from when he walked the battlefield in the daylight of the next morning.
We’ve also interviewed Dave Sabben about the Battle of Long Tan who gave the story of the battle from the perspective of a Lieutenant.