Virtual commemorative service for the 50th anniversary of Australia’s last battle in Vietnam

Saturday, September 18 2021

The Hon Andrew Gee MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel

Australians will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the last major battle fought by Australian troops during the Vietnam War on Monday 20 September 2021.

The 14-day Operation Ivanhoe, which included the 14-hour Battle of Nui Le, claimed the lives of six Australian soldiers and wounded 29 others. A New Zealand serviceman was also wounded.

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel, Andrew Gee, said the planned commemorative service at the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial in Canberra will now be held as a ‘virtual’ service and available to all Australians via an online stream, as well as a national broadcast on ABC TV.

“Unfortunately, current COVID-19 restrictions prevent us physically coming together to mark this anniversary. However, a national virtual commemoration will ensure all Australians can unite to honour the service and sacrifices made by our Vietnam Veterans 50 years ago,” Minister Gee said.

In September 1971, Australian forces were entering the final stages of the decade-long involvement in the Vietnam War, when enemy forces attempted to establish themselves in our Task Force’s area of operations in Phuoc Tuy province, on South Vietnam’s southern coast.

“Operation Ivanhoe was launched in the early hours of 19 September 1971 as a search and destroy sweep to prevent enemy forces gaining a foothold,” Minister Gee said.

“On 21 September 1971, soldiers from 4RAR/NZ’s B and D Companies were engaged by North Vietnamese Army troops across two locations. B Company suffered heavy casualties in a mortar barrage, while D Company was involved in a 14-hour battle that was to be the last major engagement fought by Australian forces in Vietnam: The Battle of Nui Le.

“The Australians who served our nation in Vietnam did so with distinction, earning them the respect of our allies and enemies alike. That skill, courage and devotion to duty was exemplified by our troops in Operation Ivanhoe and the Battle of Nui Le.

“On the 50th anniversary of Operation Ivanhoe and the Battle of Nui Le, please join our Vietnam Veterans as they reflect and remember those they served alongside, those who were wounded and those who died.”

The virtual service will be broadcast nationally on ABC TV and streamed on Facebook by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs at 10.30am (AEST) on Monday 20 September 2021. It will also be available on ABC iView.

Media contacts

Minister Gee’s office: 0459 966 944
DVA Media: 02 6289 6466
Office of the Hon. Andrew Gee, Canberra ACT.

Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling provides 24/7 free confidential crisis support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families on 1800 011 046 or the Open Arms website. Safe Zone Support provides anonymous counselling on 1800 142 072. Defence All-Hours Support Line provides support for ADF personnel on 1800 628 036 or the Department of Defence website. Defence Member and Family Helpline provides support for Defence families on 1800 624 608.