Long Tan honours appeal

The issue of recognition for Australian soldiers who fought in the Battle of Long Tan, Vietnam, is to be reviewed again by the independent Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal.

In April 2015, Lieutenant Colonel Harry Smith (Retd), former Officer Commanding D Company 6th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment at the Battle of Long Tan in Vietnam on 18 August 1966, applied to the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal for review of a decision by the Chief of Army to refuse to recommend 13 members of the Australian Army who fought at the Battle of Long Tan for a range of gallantry awards, including a Victoria Cross for the late Warrant Officer John ‘Jack’ Kirby.

The Chief of Army’s decision was made in respect of submissions by Lieutenant Colonel Smith to the Tribunal’s Inquiry into unresolved recognition for past acts of naval and military gallantry and valour.

Despite any previous considerations, Lieutenant Colonel Smith has a statutory entitlement under the Defence Act 1903 to seek review of the Chief of Army’s most recent decision in the Tribunal.

In hearing this Matter, the Tribunal will consider the refusal to recommend the following 13 individuals for various defence honours.

Rank Name What has been awarded for service at Long Tan What Lieutenant Colonel Smith seeks
Warrant Officer Class 2 Kirby, John ‘Jack’ Distinguished Conduct Medal Victoria Cross for Australia
Second Lieutenant Roberts, Adrian Mention in Despatches Medal for Gallantry
Corporal Moore, William Mention in Despatches Medal for Gallantry
Second Lieutenant Sharp, Gordon Nil Commendation for Gallantry
Sergeant Alcorta, Frank Nil Medal for Gallantry
Lance Corporal Magnussen, Barry Nil Commendation for Gallantry
Private Bextrum, Neil Nil Commendation for Gallantry
Private Brett, Ron Nil Commendation for Gallantry
Private Campbell, Ian Nil Commendation for Gallantry
Private Grimes, Noel Nil Commendation for Gallantry
Private May, Allen Nil Commendation for Gallantry
Private Peters, Geoffrey Nil Commendation for Gallantry
Private Roche, William Nil Commendation for Gallantry

All ranks used for the 13 individuals in the above table are the ranks at the time of the battle

Assistant Minister for Defence Darren Chester said he was pleased the Tribunal was progressing to public hearings for the review.

“I’m confident that the Tribunal’s review will finally resolve this important issue for veterans and their families,” Mr Chester said.

“I look forward to receiving the Tribunal’s recommendations, once the hearings and the Tribunal’s further deliberations are completed.”

Seventeen Australians were killed and 25 wounded when on 18 August 1966, 108 men of D Company, 6RAR held off an assault by more than 2,000 enemies in the middle of a tropical downpour.  They were greatly assisted by a timely ammunition resupply by RAAF helicopters, close fire support from Australian artillery, and the arrival of reinforcements in Armoured Personnel Carriers late in the battle.

The Tribunal will consider honours for 13 veterans of the Battle of Long Tan, including a Victoria Cross for the late Warrant Officer 2 Jack Kirby, who received a Distinguished Conduct Medal for his gallantry during the battle.

The Tribunal will hear evidence from veterans of the battle, representatives of the Department of Defence, and witnesses called by the applicant, Lieutenant Colonel Harry Smith SG MC (Retd).

The Tribunal will hold public hearings from Tuesday 1 March to Thursday 3 March 2016, at The Sebel, Maroochydore.

Further information is available on the Tribunal’s website at: www.defence-honours-tribunal.gov.au

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

5 thoughts on “Long Tan honours appeal

  • 26/07/2016 at 9:48 pm
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    I do not know who I am sending this message to, if it is not Bill Roche can you please pass the message on.
    I would like to catch up with Bill my email is landerloke@gmail.com
    Regards
    Ian Lander
    Narrandera

    Reply
    • 27/07/2016 at 9:13 am
      Permalink

      Hi Ian. I’m sorry but I have no contact details for Bill. So, unless he returns to or is made aware of this post and its comments, your plea may fall on deaf ears.
      Brian Hartigan
      CONTACT Editor

      Reply
  • 13/02/2016 at 6:06 pm
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    DEAR BRIAN

    DAVID SABBEN WAS THE OC OF 12 PLATOON AT THE BATTLE OF LONG TAN.

    HE HAS A WONDERFUL WEBSITE AND OVER SOME YEARS I HAVE HELPED TO COLLECT PLACES AND ADDRESSES OF WHERE DUPLICATES OF THE LONG TAN CROSS ARE……. A PHOTOGRAPH OF THESE IS PLACED ON HIS WEBSITE.

    IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO HAVE PERSON IN A PHOTO OF THE CROSS AND WHAT EVERYONE HAS DONE FOR ME [IF DISTANCE IS A PROBLEM FOR ME] IS THET ARE MORE THAN HAPPY TO TAKE A PHOTO AND EMAIL TO ME.

    I AM HOPING YOU WILL HELP ME BY ADVISING WHERE THE PHOTO WAS TAKEN OF THE CROSS ON YOUR / THIS WEBSITE PLEASE.

    REGARDS
    BILL [ROCHE]
    MY NAME IS MENTIONED IN THE AWARD REVIEW MENTIONED UNDERNEATH THE CROSS.
    I WAS A PARTICIPANT AT THE BATTLE OF LONG TAN – 10 PLATOON 6RAR.

    Reply
    • 13/02/2016 at 8:00 pm
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      Hi Bill. It’s an honour to ‘meet’ you. I sincerely hope the boys who deserve the recognition for Long Tan finally get their recognition they deserve.
      The photo is captioned….
      “OPERATION TANAGER: PIPERS AND SOLDIERS OF 6RAR PARADE BEFORE A REPLICA CROSS OF THE ONE USED IN THE 1969 VIETNAM SERVICE AS THEY AWAIT THE START OF THE LONG TAN DAY COMMEMORATIVE SERVICE HELD NEAR BALIBO, EAST TIMOR. THE PARADE CONFIGURATION RE-ENACTS THAT OF THE ORIGINAL.”
      Photo by Corporal Jason Weeding
      The file is on the Defence web site (link below) but is not dated. However, Tanager ran from 20 February 2000 – 19 May 2002.

      Cheers, Brian Hartigan

      Original file – http://images.defence.gov.au/fotoweb/archives/5003-All%20Defence%20Imagery/DefenceImagery/ImageLibrary/4/VK017207.jpg.info#c=%2Ffotoweb%2Farchives%2F5003-All%2520Defence%2520Imagery%2F%3Fq%3Dlong%26q%3Dtan

      Reply
    • 26/07/2016 at 9:40 pm
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      Dear Bill Roche
      You probably do not remember me but I went Narrandera high school at the same time as you (a year or two your junior)
      I have been living in Brunie and Singapore since about 1969, and I still am. I just now, was watching a programme on the TV about a commanding officer Harry Smith who has been fighting the authorities to have more of the D Company persons recognised for their service in the Long Tan battle and your name came up. It didn’t register until they flashed a group photograph and you (at that age) were immediately recognisable.
      Of course I had no idea you were ever in the Vietnam war.
      I would love to hear more about you.
      I would be really pleased if you would respond to this email.

      All the best
      Ian Lander (from Narrandera)

      Reply

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