Australian Military History Timeline
1900 - today:
The following timeline includes Australia’s military history and peacekeeping operations from the turn of the twentieth century, World War I , until the present day.
The following timeline does not include Australia’s military history before the turn of the twentieth century. As military historians pay closer attention to Australia’s frontier wars and its involvement in colonial conflicts (in New Zealand, the Sudan and China, for example), pre-Federation conflicts will be included.
Waikato War 1864 – killed 6
Sudan 1885 - wounded 3 - killed 9
BOER WAR (1899 - 1902)
Contrary to popular belief and although the ANZAC tradition was reputed to have been born on the shores of Gallipoli, it was indeed forged on the battlefields of the 1899-1902 Boer War when Australian and New Zealand units fought side by side. Many historians are of the opinion that this was a war before Australia became a Federation and therefore not considered part of the ANZAC tradition. It is true that the war began in the last years of pre-federation. However, the last contingents were raised after Federation was declared and were known as the 'Australian Commonwealth Horse' (ACH) and its members wore the title AC. These contingents along with the newly titled Australian Army Medical Corps sailed to South Africa during the months of March to June 1902
Number of Australians who died in the Boer War: 606
BOXER REBELLION (1900 - 1901)
China War or Boxer Rebellion. New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria send small naval contingents to serve with the Allied forces.
1 JANUARY 1901
The Commonwealth of Australia is formed as a federation. The former British colonies become states within that Commonwealth.
1 MARCH 1901
Naval and military forces of the states are transferred to Commonwealth control Forming the Commonwealth Naval Forces and the Australian Army
10 JULY 1911
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) formed.
20 SEPTEMBER 1912
The Australian Flying Corps (AFC), the forerunner of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), officially formed. The Australian Air Force formed on 31 March 1921. It becomes the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on 31 August 1921.
4 OCTOBER 1913
Arrival of the first Royal Australian Navy fleet into Sydney Habour
World War I (1914 - 1918)
4 AUGUST 1914
Great Britain declares war on Germany. Australia pledges a force of 20,000 at Britain's disposal.
10 AUGUST 1914
Voluntary recruitment for Australian Imperial Force (AIF) commences.
11 SEPTEMBER 1914
RAN Assult on Bita Paka Wireless Staition, New Brittain
14 SEPTEMBER 1914
Loss of HMA Submarine AE1 off Rabaul
9 NOVEMBER 1914
SMS Emden sunk by HMAS Sydney off Cocos Islands
3 DECEMBER 1914
Australian Imperial Forces land in Egypt
4 DECEMBER 1914
10th Battalion Arrive in Egypt
25 APRIL 1915
Australian troops land on the beaches of Gallipoli, Turkey. They remain there until 20 December; evacuations continued into January.
A timeline of the Gallipoli campaign:
25 April 1915 - Gallipoli landings by Allied Forces.16,000 Australians and New Zealanders land at Anzac Cove and around Ari Burnu. The battle between Turkish and Allied forces becomes a stalemate.
18 May 1915 - The Turkish Offensive.Turkish forces mount an attack with 42,000 men but fail. The outcome is slaughter – 10,000 Turks are left dead or wounded.
19 May 1915 - John Simpson Kirkpatrick is killed by machine gun fire.
24 May 1915- A formal truce is declared to allow the Turks to bury their dead. The Turks do not attempt another major counter-offensive.
6 - 25 August 1915- The August Offensive. The last attempt by the Allies to break the stalemate since the April landings. A series of attacks at Lone Pine, The Nek, Chunuk Bair, Hill Q and Hill 971.
6 August 1915 - The Battle for Lone Pine begins.The operation is planned as a diversion to draw Turkish troops away from a British attack further north.The Australians have more than 2,200 casualties, the Turks more than 5,000.
7 August 1915 - The Battle of The Nek (also known as the Battle of Sari Bair).(The battle portrayed in the film Gallipoli.)
21 - 29 August - Australian troops support a British assault at Hill 60.The last major action of the Gallipoli campaign. Autumn 1915 Stalemate and deteriorating weather convince the high command to evacuate. The evacuation is planned by Brigadier General CBB White, Birdwood’s Chief of Staff and is regarded a success – the best planned part of the campaign.
7-19 Dec 1915 / 7-9 January 1916 - Evacuation of ANZAC and Suvla
Numbers of Australians who died at Gallipoli 8,709
13 OCTOBER 1915
First commemoration and naming of ANZAC Day Adelaide South Australia. The first ANZAC Day march was headed by a reserve unit, the Royal Australian Naval Brigade, which marched with fixed bayonets accompanied by the Brigade Band. The returned wounded soldiers were followed by the 2000 new recruits bringing up the rear.
20 MARCH 1916
ANZAC troops land in France
25 APRIL 1916
First national commemoration of ANZAC Day.
6 JUNE 1916
The Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (RS & SILA), forerunner of the current Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL), formed.
Australians in action on the Western Front in the Battle of the Somme at Pozières and Mouquet Farm, France.
1 JULY 1916
First Battle of Somme
19 - 20 JULY 1916
Battle of Fromelles
The battle of Fromelles on 19 July 1916 was a bloody initiation for Australian soldiers to warfare on the Western Front. Soldiers of the newly arrived 5th Australian Division, together with the British 61st Division, were ordered to attack strongly fortified German front line positions near the Aubers Ridge in French Flanders. The attack was intended as a feint to hold German reserves from moving south to the Somme where a large Allied offensive had begun on 1 July. The feint was a disastrous failure. Australian and British soldiers assaulted over open ground in broad daylight and under direct observation and heavy fire from the German lines.
Over 5,500 Australians became casualties. Almost 2,000 of them were killed in action or died of wounds and some 400 were captured. This is believed to be the greatest loss by a single division in 24 hours during the entire First World War. Some consider Fromelles the most tragic event in Australia’s history.
23 JULY - 7 August 1916
Battle of Pozières
Pozières, a small village in the Somme valley in France, was the scene of bitter and costly fighting for the 1st, 2nd and 4th Australian Divisions in mid 1916.
The village was captured initially by the 1st Division on 23 July 1916. The division clung to its gains despite almost continuous artillery fire and repeated German counter-attacks but suffered heavily. By the time it was relieved on 27 July it had suffered 5,285 casualties.
The 2nd Division took over from the 1st and mounted two further attacks - the first, on 29 July, was a costly failure; the second, on 2 August, resulted in the seizure of further German positions beyond the village.Again, the Australians suffered heavily from retaliatory bombardments. They were relieved on 6 August, having suffered 6,848 casualties.
The 4th Division was next into the line at Pozières. It too endured a massive artillery bombardment, and defeated a German counter-attack on 7 August; this was the last attempt by the Germans to retake Pozières.
21 APRIL 1917
Foundation of Imperial War Graves Commission, later Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Its purpose is to set up and maintain war memorials and cemeteries.
1 AUGUST-14 NOVEMBER 1917
Third Battle of Ypres – Australian soldiers in action most notably at Menin Road, Glencorse Wood, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde Ridge and Passchendaele.
11 APRIL AND 15 MAY 1917
Battle of Bullecourt
7 JUNE 1917
Battle of Messines
9 - 12 OCTOBER 1917
Battle of Passchendaele
31 OCTOBER 1917
Australian Light Horse charge Turkish positions at Battle of Beersheba, Palestine.
9 DECEMBER 1917
Jerusalem occupied by Desert Mounted Corps
21 FEBRUARY 1918
3rd Light Horse Regiment capture Jericho
24 - 25 APRIL 1918
Australians drive Germans from Villers-Bretonneux, France.
4 JULY 1918
Lieutenant General (later Sir) John Monash leads Australian troops in a successful attack against German positions at Le Hamel France, on the Western Front.
8 AUGUST 1918
Battle of Amiens began
9 OCTOBER 1918
Battle of Passchendaele
11 NOVEMBER 1918
Germany signs an armistice and fighting ceases on the Western Front.
Number of Australians who died in World War I (1914–1918): 61,919
Australians who served: First World War 1914–1918 More than 416,000 Australians enlisted during WW1, with more than 331,000 serving overseas. Australians on the Western Front— some 295,000, in the Middle East— more than 20,000 and Australians at Gallipoli—more than 50,000. Many of those served in more than one theatre of operation during the war.
Deaths: Total Australian deaths for WW1— 61,919. Australians on the Western Front more than 45,000. Australians in the Middle East more than 1500. Australians at Gallipoli 8,709.
Prisoners of war: More than 4000 Australians became prisoners of the Germans or the Turks having been captured on the Western Front, on Gallipoli or in the Middle East. Some 3850 were captured by Germans on the Western Front. 217 were prisoners of Turkish forces held captive in various locations across Turkish territory. More than 370 Australians died whilst in captivity during WW1.
Medals: 63 Victoria Crosses were awarded to Australians in WW1, 53 of these were awarded between June 1916 and October 1918 on the Western Front in France and Belgium. Nine were awarded to Australians who fought at Gallipoli and One was awarded to an Australian who fought in Palestine.
1 APRIL 1919
First AIF disbanded
31 AUGUST 1921
Official end of WW1
24 JUNE 1927
Opening of the Menin Gate Memorial Ypres, Belgium
World War II (1939 - 1945)
When Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939, Australia again rallied to support her. It became the largest conflict Australia has ever been involved in. Australians from all three services fought against Germany and its Italian and Vichy French allies in the Mediterranean and in the Middle East. Thousands of Australian airmen also took part in the air war over Europe, and ships of the RAN joined the Allied naval forces fighting the battle
of the Atlantic.
In 1941 Japan launched a war in Asia and the Pacific. Australian soldiers, fighting with American, British and Dutch allies, fought in Singapore and Malaya, New Guinea, the islands of the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia), and the Pacific; many thousands were taken prisoner. Australian sailors and
airmen were also heavily involved. For the first time Australia was directly attacked: towns in the north, such as Darwin, were bombed, and ships were attacked and sunk along the eastern Australian coast.
The war ended with the surrender of Germany in May 1945, and the surrender of Japan in August after the dropping of two atomic bombs, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Approximately one million Australians served in the armed forces and 39,366 died. During the war many women served in industry and agriculture. Others joined one of the three services – navy, army or air force – in which they served to an extent never before seen.
5 SEPTEMBER 1939
Formation of Second Australian Imperial Force (2nd AIF) and call for volunteers.
10 July 1940 Battle of Britain began
Australian fighter pilots participate in the Battle of Britain.
15 JULY 1940
Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC), composed mainly of WWI veterans, formed by Returned Sailors' Soldiers' and Airmen's League of Australia for home defence.
26 JULY 1940
Formation of Royal Australian Air Force Nursing Service (RAAFNS).
Australian troops capture Bardia and Tobruk, in Libya, from the Italians.
Formation of three women's services – Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS), Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS), and the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF).
Siege of Tobruk, Libya, by the Germans and Italians; the Australian 9th Division forms the core defence of the garrison, and become known as ‘The Rats of Tobruk’.
Sinking of HMAS Waterhen 1941 - The destroyer HMAS Waterhen played a vital role in the supply and reinforcement of Australian forces during the Siege of Tobruk. In June 1941 it was attacked by enemy dive bombers in the Mediterranean and after all hands were transferred to another vessel HMAS Waterhen sank while under tow. It was the fi rst RAN vessel lost to enemy action during WW2.
11 NOVEMBER 1941
Opening of the Australian War Memorial.
19 NOVEMBER 1941
HMAS Sydney sunk off Western Australia after engagement with the German raider Kormoran.
7-8 DECEMBER 1941
Japan attacks the American Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and invades Malaya and Thailand, beginning the Pacific War. Australian Prime Minister John Curtin declares war on Japan (note that Curtin’s declaration is dated 8 December 1941 to reflect the local time and date in Australia.)
15 FEBRUARY 1942
British, Australian, NZ and Indian forces surrender at Singapore. More than 15,000 Australian service personnel become prisoners of war.
16 FEBRUARY 1942
Bangka Island massacre
19 FEBRUARY 1942
First Japanese air raid on Darwin, which is bombed 64 times between February 1942 and November 1943. There are further air raids across northern Australia. A series of actions and battles, culminating in 1943 in the defeat of the Japanese in Papua, is later termed 'The Battle of Australia'.
5 MAY 1942
Battle of Coral Sea begins
31 MAY 1942
Japanese midget submarines raids Sydney Harbour
Australian troops play key roles in the two battles of El Alamein, which stop the Axis powers’ advance through Egypt and turn the North African campaign in favour of the Allies.
JULY 1942-JANUARY 1943
A Japanese land force tries to reach Port Moresby using the Kokoda Track. In savage fighting the Australian defenders stop them, then capture their bases at Buna and Gona.
25-31 August 1942: Battle of Milne Bay, PNG. First defeat of Japanese troops on land.
2 November 1942: Australian soldiers retake Kokoda
6 JUNE 1944
D Day: the Allied invasion of the European mainland. RAAF aircrew of Bomber Command and Fighter Command participate in many supporting air operations.
5 AUGUST 1944
Cowra Breakout by Japanese POWs
15 NOVEMBER 1944
Government sends members of the Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS) to New Guinea to replace men for service in forward areas. Members of the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) and the Australian Army Medical Women's Service (AAMWS) already serving in New Guinea.
Australian and British prisoners of war in Borneo sent on notorious Sandakan-Ranau death marches.
8 MAY 1945
VE Day (Victory in Europe) – Germany surrenders.
Australian campaign against the Japanese in Borneo.
6-9 AUGUST 1945
Atomic bombs dropped on Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrenders on 14 August.
14 AUGUST 1945
Japan surrenders. Japan accepts Allied demands for unconditional surrender. The following day – 15 August – was gazetted as a public holiday and called ‘VP Day’ (Victory in the Pacific) in Australia. New Zealand, Britain and the United States prefer ‘VJ Day’ (Victory over Japan).
2 SEPTEMBER 1945
Allied forces arrive in Singapore and release prisoners of war.
Numbers of Australians who died in World War II: 39,366.
13 FEBRUARY 1946
Main Australian contingent of BCOF (British Commonwealth Occupation Force) arrive in Japan. During the six-year occupation of Japan approximately 19,270 Australians serve with BCOF.
23 NOVEMBER 1948
Formation of the Australian Regiment, which becomes the Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) on 10 March 1949.
Korean War (1950 - 1953)
In 1950 Australian servicemen and women joined a United Nations (UN) force to help repel the invasion of South Korea by communist North Korea. After initial success by North Korea, its forces were pushed back. But in October 1950 China entered the war on the North Korean side and drove the UN armies south. A stalemate developed, lasting until July 1953, when an armistice was signed. Although this ended the fighting, a final peace treaty has yet to be signed. The Australian Army, the RAN, and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) all fought in Korea.
25 JUNE 1950
North Korea invades South Korea, sparking Korean War.
27 JUNE 1950
RAAF bomber squadron sent to Malaya to assist the British in counter-insurgency work against communist guerillas during the Malayan Emergency.
29 JUNE 1950
Australia commits military units to United Nations Force in Korea.
Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps (RAANC) formed from the Royal Australian Army Nursing Service (RAANS). The history of the RAANS dates back to 1898.
23-25 APRIL 1951
Battle of Kapyong, Korea. US Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation awarded to 3rd Battalion, RAR, for 'extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance'.
3-8 OCTOBER 1951
Battle of Maryang-San, Korea
27 JULY 1953
Armistice signed at Panmunjom brings hostilities in Korea to an end.
The number of Australians who died in the Korean War (1950–1953): 339.
Malayan Emergency (1950–60)
In 1950 Australian forces were sent to Malaya when the British government called for assistance to resist a communist uprising. Australia’s military involvement in the Malayan Emergency lasted until 1960. The communist insurgents were defeated.
Battalions of the RAR sent to Malaya and ships of the Royal Australian Navy attached to the Far Eastern Strategic Reserve (FESR) during the Malayan Emergency. Emergency ends 30 July 1960.
The number of Australians who died in the Malayan Emergency (1950–1960): 36.
In 1962 Australia became involved in the Vietnam War, at the time, Australia’s longest ever war.At first, Australian advisers were sent to South Vietnam to help train the South Vietnamese army in their fight against the communist north. In 1966 an Australian task force was committed to aid the South Vietnamese and American forces in their fight against the North Vietnamese army and the Viet Cong in the south. The last Australian troops were withdrawn in 1973. The communist forces defeated the South Vietnamese forces in 1975 and unified the country.
Australia’s commitment included the Australian Army, the RAN, and the RAAF, as well as service nurses. The Vietnam War was a different type of war. For the first time, Australians endured not only the dangers of the jungle but also the difficulties of counter-insurgency warfare. The physical and psychological effects of this new type of war were severe, with many Australians suffering devastating injuries.
24 MAY 1962
The Australian Government announces the dispatch of thirty military advisors to South Vietnam.
31 JULY 1962
Colonel Francis ‘Ted’ Serong, commander of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV), arrives at Saigon.
3 AUGUST 1962
The main body of the AATTV arrives at Saigon.
9 MAY 1963
The first Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) operational mission begins with a Dakota from the Transport Flight of No. 2 Squadron flying in food and medical supplies for refugees.
1 JUNE 1963
The first Australian military death in the war occurs when Sergeant William Hacking of the AATTV is accidentally killed.
8 JUNE 1964
The Australian Government announces expansion of the AATTV, with advisors able to serve in combatant units.
6 JULY 1964
The first Australian combat death occurs when Warrant Officer Kevin Conway of the AATTV is killed in action at Nam Dong.
8 AUGUST 1964
The first RAAF unit is deployed—RAAF Transport Flight Vietnam arrives at Tan Son Nhut with Caribou aircraft.
10 NOVEMBER 1964
The National Service (Conscription) Act is passed to reintroduce national service.
10 MARCH 1965
The first ballot for National Service is drawn.
29 APRIL 1965
The Australian Government announces commitment of an infantry battalion.
3 JUNE 1965
Leading troops of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR), land in South Vietnam for deployment to Bien Hoa. This also marks the first use of Qantas charter flights to move troops into (and out of) South Vietnam—they become known as ‘skippy flights’.
8 JUNE 1965
The transport ship (converted aircraft carrier) HMAS Sydney, with destroyer escort HMAS Parramatta and HMAS Duchess, arrives at Vung Tau on the first naval logistical support operation.
30 JUNE 1965
The first National Service intake begins recruit training.
17 AUGUST 1965
The Australian Government approves an increase of the force in Bien Hoa to a battalion group, with 1RAR to be supported by artillery, additional armoured personnel carriers, engineers, army aviation and further logistical support.
13 NOVEMBER 1965
The first Victoria Cross of the war is awarded to Warrant Officer Kevin ‘Dasher’ Wheatley of the AATTV, killed in action.
8 MARCH 1966
The Australian Government announces the deployment of a task force of nearly 4500 troops, including two infantry battalions, Special Air Service (SAS) troops and support units, to be deployed in Phuoc Tuy.
1st Australian Task Force (1ATF) is established at Nui Dat and 1st Australian Logistic Support Group (1ALSG) is established at Vung Tau, Phuoc Tuy.
24 MAY 1966
The First National Service death on active service and the first death recorded in 1ATF occurs when Private Errol Noack of 5RAR dies of wounds.
30 JUNE 1966
Prime Minister Harold Holt, visiting Washington DC, pledges that Australia would go ‘all the way’ in support of American policy in Vietnam
18 AUGUST 1966
The Battle of Long Tan is fought as ‘D’ Company, 6RAR, runs into a much larger enemy force and eighteen Australians (including one of the relief force) are killed. The anniversary has become Vietnam Veterans’ Day.
A timeline of The Battle of Long Tan
18 August 1966
2.43 am: A 22-minute barrage from 82 mm mortars and 75 mm recoilless rifles startles the occupants of the base at Nui Dat. There are 24 Australian casualties and some damage to tents and vehicles. The base is readied for an attack which does not eventuate.
6.31 am: B Company 6RAR is dispatched to search for the enemy and spent the day tracing enemy tracks. They are re-supplied with rations and remain away from Nui Dat overnight.
Later that morning
The three D Company platoons, 10, 11 and 12, are sent out to relieve B Company and to continue the search for Viet Cong troops. The men leave the base at Nui Dat just as a group of visiting entertainers (including Col Joye and Little Pattie) are setting up their equipment for a much anticipated concert.
1.00 pm: The two companies rendezvous and B Company returns to Nui Dat for the concert. Delta Company Commander, Major Harry Smith, his three platoons, a company HQ group and three New Zealand artillery observers set off into the rubber plantation.
3.00 pm: 10 and 11 Platoons move forward and spread out. Suddenly they make their first contact with a group of enemy soldiers who walk straight into the middle of the Australian patrol. Sergeant Bob Buick fires and wounds one who is picked up by his companions. They bolt into the surrounding vegetation. The Australians are surprised to see that, unlike the local Viet Cong, these men are dressed in camouflage clothing and carry AK47s, the Russian-made Kalashnikov.
4.08 pm: As 11 Platoon continues their advance in ‘one big long line’, they come under heavy fire which kills four of the Australians. The survivors, now fighting for their lives, fire back.
4.12 pm: Trapped by the enemy in torrential monsoon rain, 11 Platoon Commander Second Lieutenant Gordon Sharp calls in artillery support.
4.26 pm: NZ artillery shells are fired from Nui Dat but miss the target. When Gordon Sharp stands to re-direct the artillery fire he is shot and killed. His Platoon Sergeant, Bob Buick, sends a desperate radio message requesting more ammunition, and then his radio antenna is shot off.
Major Smith orders 10 Platoon Commander, Second Lieutenant Geoff Kendall, out to find 11 Platoon. With rain falling, Kendall’s platoon intercepts a group of the enemy and overcomes them. But when they move on they are attacked from three sides. A number of his men are wounded and his radio is destroyed. Private William ‘Yank’ Arkell, a Radio Operator from Company HQ, braves the enemy fire to locate Kendall and hand over a replacement radio. (Arkell was later awarded a Mention In Dispatches for his actions). With radio contact restored, Smith orders 10 Platoon to retreat.
4.50 pm: Completely isolated from the rest of the company, and with minimal ammunition, 11 Platoon fight on. Sergeant Bob Buick calls in artillery fire from Nui Dat and directs it over his mens’ heads onto the enemy.
5.15 pm: 10 Platoon returns to the Company HQ position and Smith orders 12 Platoon Commander Second Lieutenant Dave Sabben, to take two sections of his Platoon (20 men instead of 30) to search for 11 Platoon.
5.30 pm: 12 Platoon runs into groups of the enemy attempting to outflank 11 Platoon and have to force their way through. Eight Australians are wounded.
5.45 pm: At Nui Dat, Lieutenant Adrian Roberts, Alpha Company 6RAR musters 7 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) of 3 Troop and heads out to support Delta Company.
6.00 pm: Two 9 Squadron RAAF helicopters negotiate torrential rain and almost zero visibility to drop cases of ammunition wrapped in blankets down to the embattled soldiers. Sergeant Bob Buick and the remainder of 11 Platoon having made a desperate dash to escape the enemy locate 12 Platoon. Together the survivors of the two platoons manage to fight their way back to Company HQ where Harry Smith deploys them into defensive positions to await enemy attacks.
6.35 pm: The enemy start their ‘human wave assault’ charging towards the Australians who reply with machine gun and rifle fire. Smith calls in the artillery at Nui Dat but despite their mounting casualties, the enemy continue their attack.
6.45 pm: 3 Troop’s APCs arrive, dispersing the enemy and ending the battle.
10.45 pm: The wounded and the dead are transported to the landing zone at the edge of the rubber plantation and evacuated to Vung Tau in dust off helicopters. Delta company’s dead are left in the plantation to be collected the next morning.
Delta Company together with 6RAR’s Alpha, Bravo and Charlie Companies and Delta Company 5RAR, with APCs, return to the battleground to search for the Australians who were killed in the battle. Two of the missing men from Delta Company are found wounded but alive and are evacuated in dust off helicopters. Thirteen Australian bodies are retrieved. Some wounded Viet Cong are taken prisoner and interrogated. That afternoon, the Australians dig shallow graves and bury more than 200 enemy dead where they fell.
19-21 August: Companies ‘scour the battlefield’, extending their search area and finding traces of enemy camps, supplies, scattered groups of civilians and some graves. The enemy is not pursued and the battalion returns to Nui Dat, ending Operation Smithfield at 5 pm on 21 August 1966.
D Company 6RAR withdraws to Vung Tau for two days R & C.
In May 1968, Delta Company 6RAR was awarded a US Presidential Citation ‘for extraordinary heroism’, one of only two Australian units to have received the decoration. (3RAR received the award for its role in the Battle of Kapyong during the Korean War).
AWM F04223 Film courtesy of the Australian War Memorial
22 DECEMBER 1966
The Australian Government announces further increases in the military contribution to defence of South Vietnam.
6 FEBRUARY 1967
The first Royal Australian Navy (RAN) unit is deployed ‘in country’ when the Clearance Diving Team 3 arrives in Vietnam.
15 MARCH 1967
The first Australian warship deployed for service on the gun line, HMAS Hobart, joins the US Seventh Fleet at Subic Bay, The Philippines.
5 MAY 1967
The first Australian servicewomen sent to Vietnam—four nurses of the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps—arrive on posting to the 8th Field Ambulance.
26 MAY 1967
The first ‘Anzac battalion’ arrives, with V Company of the 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Regiment, attached to 2RAR, forming 2RAR/NZ.
19 JUNE 1967
The first RAAF death occurs when Leading Aircraftman Gaetano La Grasta of Base Support Flight, Vung Tau, is murdered.
18 OCTOBER 1697
The Australian Government announces a further commitment of forces, including a third infantry battalion and an armoured squadron.
29 JANUARY 1968
North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces launch the Tet Offensive, with major attacks across South Vietnam.
1 FEBRUARY 1968
Australian troops clear Baria of enemy forces.
12 FEBRUARY 1968
The Australian Government indicates no further increase in forces to Vietnam.
22 FEBRUARY 1968
The first RAN death occurs when Lieutenant-Commander Patrick John Vickers of RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam dies on a combat flight.
13 MAY 1968
The Battle of Coral/Balmoral begins with a heavy enemy attack against Fire Support Base Coral; after a second attack on 15 May, Australian casualties are fifteen killed and fifty-six wounded.
26–28 MAY 1968
Australians defend Fire Support Base Balmoral against attacks.
6 JUNE 1969
The fourth and final Victoria Cross of the war is awarded to Warrant Officer Keith Payne, AATTV.
6 JUNE 1969
Australian troops clear Binh Ba of a strong enemy force.
16 DECEMBER 1969
With US forces gradually being withdrawn, the Australian Government advises that Australian forces will also be withdrawn.
22 APRIL 1970
The Australian Government announces that automatic replacement of battalions at the end of their tour will cease.
12 NOVEMBER 1970
8RAR returns to Australia at the end of its tour—it is the first battalion not replaced, with reduction of 1ATF underway.
30 MARCH 1971
The Australian Government announces further cuts to Australian forces in South Vietnam, including the withdrawal of Canberra bombers.
18 AUGUST 1971
The Australian Government announces the withdrawal of the bulk of Australian forces.
21 SEPTEMBER 1971
The last Australians are killed in actio — Privates Brian Charles Beilken, James Duff, Keith Michael Kingston-Powles, Ralph James Niblett and Roderick James SPRIGG, all of 4RAR.
27 OCTOBER 1971
The last Australian serviceman to die within Vietnam, Staff Sergeant John Hall of the 12th Field Regiment, is murdered. Some personnel wounded in Vietnam were to die in Australia after this date.
3 NOVEMBER 1971
The only Australian servicewoman to lose her life during the war, Temporary Captain Barbara Frances Black of the 1st Field Hospital, dies in Fitzroy, Victoria.
7 NOVEMBER 1971
The last Australian infantry battalion in Vietnam, 4RAR, departs Nui Dat for home.
5 MARCH 1972
The last units of 1ALSG depart Vung Tau. Australia’s commitment to South Vietnam is now limited to about 150 troops of the AATTV and Australian Army Assistance Group Vietnam (AAAGV).
15 JULY 1972
The final death of an Australian named on the nation’s Roll of Honour for the Vietnam War occurs when Private Arthur John Gibson of 7RAR dies at Liverpool Hospital, NSW.
5 DECEMBER 1972
18 DECEMBER 1972
The withdrawal of the AATTV and AAAGV marks the end of Australia’s military commitment to South Vietnam. Some troops remain to guard the Australian Embassy.
27 JANUARY 1973
a ceasefire between North and South Vietnam comes into effect after US President Nixon announces that an agreement has been reached for ‘peace with honour’.
The last US forces depart Vietnam.
30 JUNE 1973
The last Australian troop based in South Vietnam, the Saigon Embassy Guard Platoon, is withdrawn.
4 JANUARY 1974
After violations of the ceasefire by both sides, South Vietnam declares that the war has restarted. Without American support, South Vietnamese forces struggle to contain an enemy offensive.
North Vietnamese forces advance on Saigon and Khmer Rouge forces seize control of neighbouring Cambodia.
29 MARCH 1975
RAAF Hercules and Dakota aircraft are dispatched to assist humanitarian efforts in South Vietnam and Cambodia. They deliver Red Cross and United Nations supplies and evacuate embassy officials and their families and also some refugees, including war orphans evacuated from Saigon to Bangkok in Operation Baby Lift.
25 APRIL 1975
Australian military involvement in the war ends with the last RAAF flights out of Saigon.
30 APRIL 1975
North Vietnamese forces capture Saigon, effectively ending the Vietnam War.
The number of Australians who died in the Vietnam War (1962–1975): 521
The Indonesian Confrontation (1963–1966)
The Indonesian Confrontation was the name given to the Indonesian attempt to foil the creation of the Federation of Malaysia in the early 1960s. In response to a developing “low level war” and to British requests, Australia sent ground troops to Borneo in 1965 and RAN ships patrolled coastal waters. The confrontation ended in 1966 when Indonesia and Malaysia signed a peace treaty.
Australian military units in Borneo help defend the borders of Malaysia against incursions from Indonesia during the Confrontation conflict.
The number of Australians who died in the Indonesian Confrontation (1963–1966): 15.
10 FEBRUARY 1964
HMAS MELBOURNE and HMAS VOYAGER collision
RAAF Caribou flight established at Vung Tau, Vietnam.
13 FEBRUARY 1965
First Australian SAS Squadron advance party departs for Borneo
The first Australian combat force of 1,100 soldiers sent to Vietnam.
24 May 1966: Errol Noack, first conscript killed in SVN
18 AUGUST 1966
Battle of Long Tan, Vietnam.
30 JANUARY 1968
'Tet' offensive by the Viet Cong begins, marking a major turning point in public opinion against the Vietnam War
13-16 MAY 1968
Battle for FSB Coral
3 JUNE 1969
HMAS MELBOURNE and USS FRANK E EVANS collision
30 JUNE 1973
The last Australian troops in Vietnam depart from Saigon.
The number of Australians who died in the Vietnam War (1962 - 1973): 520.
Peacekeeping Operations and Military Deployments 1970s onwards
Australia has been involved in UN and other multinational peacekeeping operations since 1947. These operations have taken Australians to countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Pacific, where they have been involved in monitoring ceasefires, holding elections, clearing landmines, providing humanitarian aid, and repatriating refugees. Australia’s largest peacekeeping deployment was to East Timor in September 1999, when 9,000 troops were deployed to restore peace after a vote for independence from Indonesia had led to violence.
Series of Australian peacekeeping, aid and protection missions around the world, e.g. Sinai, Namibia, Bougainville, Rwanda, chiefly as part of its commitment to the United Nations.
3 OCTOBER 1987
Welcome Home Parade for Vietnam Veterans
First Gulf War (1990 – 91)
Following the Iraqi invasion of neighbouring Kuwait in 1990, Australia joined a coalition force of 30 nations led by the United States and authorised by the United Nations to liberate Kuwait. RAN ships were deployed in the Persian Gulf. Individual RAAF and Army personnel, including medical teams, also served. In early 1991 the coalition attacked the Iraqi forces and pushed them out of Kuwait.
2 AUGUST 1990
Iraq invades Kuwait
28 FEBRUARY 1991
First Gulf War ends
Australia has over 2,000 peacekeepers in the field, with large contingents in Somalia and Cambodia.
12 June 1996
Black Hawk helicopters crash Townsville
The worst accident in the regiment's history occurred on the evening of 12 June 1996 when two S-70-A9 Blackhawk helicopters from the 5th Aviation Regiment carrying SASR troopers collided during a live-fire counter-terrorism/special-recovery operation exercise at Fire Support Base Barbara in the High Range Training Area at Townsville, Queensland. This activity was part of Exercise Day Rotor 96 and took place on the second day of the exercise, sometime after 18:30, requiring the pilots to use night vision goggles. Six aircraft had been approaching the target area when, 30 seconds from the landing zone, one of the helicopters veered to the right, clipping the tail rotor of another helicopter. One Blackhawk crashed immediately killing 12 personnel on board, while the other was able to make a crash landing but burst into flames, killing six. Crash survivors, soldiers from the other helicopters and exercise staff risked the flames and exploding ammunition to rescue their comrades and retrieve the bodies of the dead. Fifteen members of the SASR and three from the 5th Aviation Regiment lost their lives in the accident. Fourteen personnel were later officially recognised for their part in the rescue and evacuation operation.
1 Squadron (Special Air Service Regiment)
Captain Timothy J. STEVENS
Sergeant Hugh W. ELLIS
Corporal Michael BIRD
Corporal Andrew CONSTANTINIDIS
Corporal Darren R. OLDHAM
Corporal Brett S. TOMBS
Lance Corporal Gordon A. CALLOW
Lance Corporal Glen O. HAGAN
Lance Corporal David J. JOHNSTONE
Trooper Jonathon G. CHURCH
Trooper David FROST
Trooper Timothy J. McDONALD
152 Signal Squadron (Special Air Service Regiment)(Members of the Royal Australian Corps of Signals)
Corporal Mihran “Avi” AVEDISSIAN
Corporal Darren J. SMITH
Signalman Hendrik “Rick” PEETERS
5th Aviation Regiment
Capt KJ HalesCapt JB BerriganCpl MC Baker
30 OCTOBER 1997
The Governor-General, Sir William Deane, formally declares that 11 November each year be known and observed as Remembrance Day.
9 DECEMBER 1997
Death of Ted Matthews, the last survivor of those Australians who landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.
20 SEPTEMBER 1999
Australian troops land in East Timor as part of the United Nations International Force East Timor (INTERFET).
Afghanistan (2001 -
Following the Al Qaeda terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, the United States launched a “war on terror” and called for allfriendly nations to take part. In October 2001 the United States led a campaign in Afghanistan to remove the Taliban government that had supported Al Qaeda. Australian forces have been involved in fighting Al Qaeda and its Taliban supporters.They have also assisted the new Afghan government to rebuild the country.
Australian troops involved in Afghanistan in the war against the Taliban.
Second Gulf War (2003 - 2009)
In March 2003 the United States and several of its allies,including Australia, invaded Iraq, believing it to have chemicaland biological weapons that could be used against Westerncountries. RAN ships formed part of the allied fleet in the PersianGulf, special forces troops from the Australian Army operatedin western Iraq, and RAAF fighters attacked enemy groundforces and protected surveillance and tanker aircraft. Since 2003Australian forces have carried out a range of training and securitytasks in support of the new Iraqi government.
Australian troops take part in the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
2 APRIL 2005
Sea King helicopter crash in Indonesia
4 OCTOBER 2013
Royal Australian Navy International Fleet Review 2013. An international naval fleet review was held in Sydney to coincide with the centenary of the arrival of the first Royal Australian Navy fleet into Sydney, which occurred on the 4th of October, 1913.
Nearly two million Australians have served since 1860 in eleven wars and warlike conflicts, plus numerous peacekeeping operations. Over 102,000 have died.