By Robert Hall
The tale of the 1969 journey of Vietnam via the 8th Battalion of the Australian military.
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Extra info for Combat Battalion: The 8th Battalion in Vietnam
Rod Scutter who served in B Company tried to avoid going but went anyway. Derek Walsh of Support Company was given a range of options but he thought they were loaded against the Nasho. Allocated to the infantry, he was given the choice of joining one of three battalions, all of which were liable for service in Vietnam. ‘I chose 8RAR as I believed no-one could be so cruel as to bring a battalion home from Malaysia and then, shortly afterwards, send them to Vietnam’, he recalled. But Walsh hadn’t reckoned on the Army.
For example, Corporal Bob O’Callaghan of Support Company thought that if anything he was ‘less committed to religion after seeing that inhumanity’, but Corporal Brian Partridge of D Company felt that his participation in the war had strengthened his faith. 8RAR was well served by its two spiritual guides, Stan Hessey, the battalion padre, and Don Woodland, the Salvation Army representative. Both men performed outstanding service in assisting soldiers to cope with the disturbances of combat. Hessey held the classic Anglican view of war and peace which saw war as part of the human condition which cannot be legislated or wished into non-existence but must be faced and dealt with in a practical way.
D445 battalion operated and drew supplies in the populated areas of Long Dien and Dat Do and to the east of Route 2 to Xuyen Moc and beyond. It had long-established bases in the Long Hai hills. These were supported by a number of smaller and less aggressive local units operated from the NLF districts. C41 Company and the Chau Duc District Headquarters operated from the Nui Dinh hills and the Suoi Chau Pha valley with its focus on the village of Hoa Long. C25 Company and the Long Dat District Headquarters occupied bases in the Long Hai hills and their operations were directed at the villages of Long Dien and An Ngai.