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The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel

MEDIA RELEASE

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Letter to the Editor: 50th anniversary of Operation Hammersley during the Vietnam War

Dear Editor

The Vietnam War had a profound impact on Australia and we owe veterans of this conflict our respect and recognition. I say to them all, thank you for your service.

On 18 February 2020 Australia will commemorate 50 years since Operation Hammersley was carried out in the Long Hai area of Phuoc Tuy Province, from February to March 1970.

The Long Hai area had been the object of operations and air strikes since 1967, but remained a strong enemy base known to the Viet Cong as the ‘Minh Dam Secret Zone’.

Operation Hammersley began when C Company, 8th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (8RAR) and supporting elements that included a troop of tanks, a troop of armoured personnel carriers, combat engineers and a mortar section were ordered to secure a quarry site at the foot of the Long Hai hills. As the Australians met with early success during Hammersley, the Operation’s scope increased until most of 8RAR became involved.

The early stages of fighting were characterised by infantry ambushes carried out by both sides. While the Australians had the support of armoured vehicles, they were at a disadvantage, facing an enemy able to make use of the shelter offered by the many caves running beneath the Long Hai hills. Hindered by the rugged terrain, the armour was also in constant danger from land mines which caused casualties among the infantry and armoured personnel.

Sadly 12 Australians were killed and 59 wounded during Operation Hammersley, with a further two servicemen killed in the days immediately following the Operation’s conclusion.

In honour of those who served and tragically died, a National Commemorative Service will be held to mark the 50th anniversary of Operation Hammersley on Tuesday, 18 February 2020 at 10.30am at the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial in Canberra.

I encourage all Australians to pay their respects by attending the commemorative service or by watching the national coverage of the ceremony live on the ABC.

For more information about this national commemoration, please visit the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website.

Darren Chester
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel

Media contacts:

Rachel Tharratt: 02 6277 7820
DVA Media: (02) 6289 6466

Office of the Hon Darren Chester, Canberra ACT

Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au