Title: Fighting to the Finish: The Australian Army in the Vietnam War 1968 – 1973
Author: Ashley Ekins and Ian McNeill
Edition: 1st Edition
Publication Date: 2012
Cover: Hard Cover with Dust Jacket – 1139 pages
Comments: Volume 9 – Official History of Australia’s Involvement in the South East Asian Conflicts 1948 – 1975.
The final volume in the series, which will conclude the story of the Australian Army in the Vietnam War.
Fighting to the finish tells the story of the Australian Army in Vietnam during the period of Australia’s largest and most sustained military commitment to the Vietnam War. As the ninth and final volume of The Official History of Australia’s Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948–1975, it is the successor to the acclaimed To Long Tan by Ian McNeill, and On the offensive by Ian McNeill and Ashley Ekins.
The product of years of intensive work, Fighting to the finish reveals the experiences of Australian soldiers in Vietnam in a way that has not been possible before.
It describes the activities of the Australian Task Force in Vietnam during its peak years, from the middle of 1968 to the end of 1971. For most of this period, the army maintained a force of over 6,000 troops in Vietnam. Eleven infantry battalions and their supporting arms undertook tours of duty and carried out almost 100 major operations.
Australian soldiers fought a difficult war on several fronts simultaneously, conducting reconnaissance-in-force operations in remote enemy-dominated areas of Phuoc Tuy province, pacification operations to provide security in the populous regions, and civic action and reconstruction tasks to improve the lives of the local people and to help restore government control. The pace of operations was intense and unrelenting, and the cost was high – 250 soldiers were killed in action or died of wounds and other causes in this period.
This book provides a comprehensive account of operations, enemy engagements, and their context, including a fresh interpretation of the fierce clash between Australian infantry and armour and North Vietnamese Army forces in the village of Binh Ba. It gives the most authoritative account of the clearing of the controversial barrier minefield that led to alarmingly high numbers of Australian casualties. The book also covers the difficulties faced during the phased withdrawal of the task force, as enemy pressure increased the burden and dangers for the remaining soldiers. This work includes the first detailed account of the aftermath of the war in Phuoc Tuy province, leading to the communist victory in 1975.
Authors Ashley Ekins and Ian McNeill had unrestricted access to official government records, including highly classified defence files and operational records. To this they added extensive interviews with participants, personal papers and correspondence, communist Vietnamese histories, and discussions with former Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army soldiers. Their work is marked by unflinching critical analysis and candour about the successes and failures of the Australian Army experience in Vietnam. Fighting to the finish covers the Australian involvement at virtually every level, from the senior commanders and planners to the experiences of infantrymen on patrol and in contact with the enemy. It also contains appendices of authoritative information and data on Australian operations in Vietnam, previously unavailable to general readers, which will ensure its value as the principal reference work on the subject for decades.