Title: The First to Fight – Australian Diggers with New Zealand Kiwis and Paratroopers in Vietnam 1965 – 1966

Author: Breen, Robert

Condition: Very Good

Edition: 1st Edition

Publication Date: 1988

ISBN: 0898391261

Cover: Hard Cover without Dust Jacket – 316 pages

Comments: The history of the First Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment in Vietnam 1965 – 1966. 

In 1945 Australia sent three units to Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF). Originally known as the 65th, 66th and 67th Infantry Battalions, they were raised from Australian divisions stationed in New Guinea at the end of the Second World War. On 23 November 1948, the battalions were renamed the First, Second and Third Battalion, The Australian Regiment, respectively. The prefix “Royal” was granted by King George VI on 31 March 1949.

Prior to its departure, 1RAR was based at Holsworthy barracks, Sydney. It arrived in Vietnam throughout March–June, 1965. It was deployed to the United States Bien Hoa Air Base in Bien Hoa province. It was the third infantry battalion attached to the US 173rd Airborne Brigade (Paratroopers).

Initially, 1RAR was restricted to security operations defending the airbase. However, in September 1965, the Australian government lifted these restrictions, and 1RAR was able to be fully employed as a manoeuvre battalion. It participated in search and destroy missions, patrolling and security operations. 1RAR’s patrol program reduced enemy activity around the Bien Hoa Airbase to an all-time low.

In early 1966 1RAR was involved in Operation Crimp (8–14 January). This was a search-and-destroy operation in the Hobo Woods, north of Saigon. During Crimp, 1RAR uncovered the Cu Chi tunnel complex. A search of the tunnels resulted in the capture of thousands of documents, weapons and supplies.

As a result of its successful patrolling tactics, 1RAR was asked by the US 1st Infantry Division (“The Big Red One”) to participate in Operation Rolling Stone (19-26 February). The battalion provided security for US army engineers who were building a road. Once the operation had finished the battalion returned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

1RAR was relieved by the First Australian Task Force (1ATF) during May–June 1966. It returned to Australia in June.

Includes Nominal Roll