Title: The Year of the Tigers – The Second Tour of 5th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment in South Vietnam, 1969 – 70
Author: Battle, M R and Wilkins, D S
Edition: 4th Edition
Publication Date: 2009
Cover: Hard Cover with Dust Jacket – 377 pages.
Comments: The detailed history of the Fifth Battalion (The Royal Australian Regiment) in South Vietnam from 1969 to 1970.
The Year of the Tigers is a record of the actions and achievements of the 5th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment, “The Tiger Battalion”, during its second tour of duty in the Vietnam War in 1969-70. Essentially a pictorial record, this extensively revised and expanded 3rd edition of a book originally published in 1970 contains a multitude of photographs of the men involved, many contributed by the veterans from previously long-forgotten collections.
This combat infantry battalion, consisting of both Regular soldiers and National Servicemen, was proven to be second-to-none in its 16 main operations over 12 months. It was involved in hundreds of battles with the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong enemy and was responsible for the locating, attacking and capturing of literally thousands of enemy defensive bunkers secreted away in the dense jungle or mountain hideaways.
In addition to the battalion’s constant patrolling, ambushing and fierce jungle battles, it was victorious in the 1969 Battle of Binh Ba when it defeated the 1st Battalion of the 33rd North Vietnamese Regiment, that had occupied this large village located a few thousand metres north of the Australian Task Force base of Nui Dat from house to house was of an intensity rarely equalled during any period of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. 5 RAR was awarded a Battle Honour for this action.
The battalion returned to Vietnam in February 1969, relieving 1RAR. Throughout its second tour 5RAR was mainly involved with pacification operations in Phuoc Tuy. 1ATF adopted a pacification program as its first priority in April 1969. This involved seeking out and destroying the enemy in its base areas, preventing enemy access to the civilian population, and helping to create a secure climate for South Vietnamese social, political, and military life. The work was demanding, dangerous, and monotonous and the primary task carried out by the battalion during its second tour.
One of the major operations 5RAR carried out became known as the Battle of Binh Ba (6–7 June). The battalion began a search-and-clear of the village of Binh Ba, following an attack on a Centurion tank. The operation evolved into an extensive search of the village with tanks and infantry. During the intense fighting, tanks were used to blast through the walls of masonry buildings identified as enemy occupied. The infantry then moved through the holes, clearing the building one room at a time. It was the last large-scale clash of the war.
On 10 March 5RAR joined Operation Federal-Overlander (17 February–8 April) in the Bien Hoa province. The battalion was engaged in searches and patrols of the area following the 1969 Tet Offensive. It returned to Nui Dat on 8 April.
The battalion was stationed outside of Phuoc Tuy from 13 to 22 May. It was sent to the Bien Hoa province to meet an anticipated VC threat. The situation did not develop as expected and the battalion returned to operations in Phuoc Tuy.
5RAR was relieved by 7RAR on 16 February 1970 and returned to Australia later that month.
Essentially a pictorial record, this extensively revised and expanded 3rd edition of a book originally published in 1970 contains a multitude of photographs of the men involved, many contributed by the veterans from previously long-forgotten collections.
These veteran infantrymen were later described by their Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Colin “Genghis” Khan in the following way:
“These soldiers, as mix of regulars and national servicemen, and their actions epitomised the spirit, loyalty, teamwork, bravery and above all professionalism of the men we officers had the privilege to command in Vietnam”.
Includes Nominal Roll