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The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

MEDIA RELEASE

10 May 2018

50th anniversary of Australia's largest Vietnam battles

VETERANS will gather in Canberra on Sunday to attend a national service to recognise the Battles at Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral—Australia’s most protracted and costly battles of the Vietnam War.

Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War began in 1962 with the introduction of military trainers whose role was to instruct South Vietnamese troops.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said Australian service men established Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral in the vicinity of routes used by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces to attack Saigon, the southern capital now known as Ho Chi Minh City.

“The bases were considered a great threat to the enemy, as they were located across routes used by Communist forces to move to and from Saigon into nearby Bien Hoa province,” Mr Chester said.

“In the early hours of 13 May 1968, the North Vietnamese attacked Fire Support Base Coral which had been established only hours earlier. There was another major attack on the base shortly afterwards and over the following weeks the Australians launched a series of aggressive patrols, engaging in combat against North Vietnamese forces and experiencing fierce combat through until early June.

“During this time, the North Vietnamese also turned their attention to Fire Support Base Balmoral which had been established about 4.5 kilometres north of Coral. Two battalions of North Vietnamese attacked Balmoral on 26 May. A second attack followed on 28 May, but a combination of infantry, armour, aircraft, artillery and mortars repelled the North Vietnamese assault.”

The Battles at Coral and Balmoral resulted in more Australian casualties than any other series of engagements in Vietnam and were described by an Australian brigadier as ‘some of the heaviest fighting the Task Force ever undertook’.

“Twenty-six Australians were killed during the fighting at Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral,”
Mr Chester said.

“Estimates suggest that some 300 North Vietnamese were killed in these actions, but exact figures will never be known.”
Members of the public are encouraged to attend the event on Sunday at the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial, Anzac Parade, Canberra.

ENDS

**Contact information for veterans is available. Further details regarding the event below.**

WHAT: Veterans from all over the country will gather in Canberra to attend a national service to recognise the Battles at Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral – Australia’s most protracted and costly battles of the Vietnam War

WHEN: 11am on Sunday, 13 May 2018

WHERE: Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial, Anzac Parade, Canberra

DOORSTOP: Minister Chester will conduct a doorstop at 10.30 am on Sunday 13 May.
Please contact Whil Prendergast on 0427 672 815 or Whilemina.prendergast@dva.gov.au for further details.

A High Definition (HD) broadcast feed from the event site will be available for distribution via Sydney Teleports. Please contact Sydney Teleports MCR (email bookings@sydneyteleport.com.au or phone 02 9292 0000) for more information and access details.



MEDIA CONTACTS:

Whil Prendergast: 0427 672 815
DVA Media: 02 6289 6466

Office of the Hon Darren Chester MP, Canberra

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.