161 Battery Royal New Zealand Artillery in Vietnam War – 1965
On July 16 1965 161 Battery, stationed at Bien Hoa air base near Saigon, opened fire on a Viet Cong position in support of 1RAR, Australian Army who were both attached to the American 173rd Airborne Brigade. Just over one year later on 18 August 1966, 161 Bty, 16 Field Regiment, RNZA part of the 1st Australian Task Force at Nui Dat, South Vietnam would be firing in support of D Company, 6RAR in The Battle of Long Tan alongside Australian artillery – 103 Bty & 105 Bty Royal Australian Army and 2/35th Howitzer Battalion, US Army. The Forward (Artillery) Observers attached to D Coy, 6RAR were Capt Morrie Stanley, Bdr Willie Walker and Bdr Murray Broomhall all from 161 Bty, RNZA. They controlled the 24 guns in support of themselves and the rest of D Coy for more than 3.5 hours in the rubber plantation called Long Tan, firing 6-8 rounds per minute (2 above the intense rate) almost non-stop. 105 Australians and 3 New Zealanders (D Coy, 6RAR) fought and defeated 2,500 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers. 18 Australians and more than 500+ VC and NVA were killed. Between June 1964 and December 1972 more than 3000 New Zealand military personnel served in South Vietnam. At its peak in 1968 the New Zealand force numbered 543. Thirty-seven men died while on active service and 187 were wounded. This was the first war that New Zealand did not fight alongside Great Britain who did not participate in the Vietnam conflict, instead they supported the forces of the USA and Australia in Vietnam.