Long Tan : The Start of a Life Long Battle
by Harry Smith
Editor: Big Sky Publishing
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On the afternoon of 18 August 1966, only five kilometres from the Australian expeditionary base at Nui Dat, a group of Viet Cong soldiers entered the right flank of Delta Company, 6 RARUnder a blanket of fog and heavy monsoon rains, amid mud and broken rubber trees, the Company’s dispersion of 108 men held its ground with courage and dark determination against one on three sides to attack a force of 2,500 Viet Cong and troops of the North Vietnamese ArmyWhen the battle subsided, 18 Australian soldiers died and 24 years were wounded.Battlefield clearance revealed 245 enemy corpses with documents captured later confirming the count to over 500 enemy killed and over 800 woundedThese men were led by a gruff and gusty perfectionist, Major Harry SmithNow, some 50 years after the battle, Harry tells his storyLong Tan is more than just the story of a historic battleHarry Smith takes his readers on an extraordinary journey that ultimately reveals a remarkable coverage at the highest military and political levelsWritten in partnership with award-winning journalist Toni McRae, Long Tan is also Harry’s Life Story and depicts his many personnel battles, failed marriages of commandos style killing; from a horrible parachute accident through his modern-day struggles with the bureaucracy of recognition for his soldiersHarry battles are tempered by his love of sailing, where he finally found a little peaceLong Tan depicts the visceral wrenching of the experience of a man who fought to the life of battles, in a story he is now only able to tellHarry can still hear the gunshots and the smell of blood spilled at Long Tan.For him, the fight continues
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