Australia and the Vietnam War

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Combat

Battle of Coral/Balmoral

An aerial shot of Fire Support Base Coral taken on 13 May 1968, the day after the base was established and after the first attack on the base the previous night. [AWM P03022.008]

An aerial shot of Fire Support Base Coral taken on 13 May 1968, the day after the base was established and after the first attack on the base the previous night. [AWM P03022.008]

Australian, New Zealand and United States forces were involved in a series of actions between May and June 1968 at Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral some 20 kilometres north of Bien Hoa city. Sitting astride a route used by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces approaching or departing Saigon and nearby Bien Hoa, the bases comprised defended positions for artillery, mortars and armoured vehicles which in turn supported infantry patrols of the area.

The North Vietnamese launched several strong attacks in an attempt to drive the Australians from this important area. The Australians also initiated combat during their many patrols outside the bases. These actions, over a 25-day period, made up Australia's costliest and most protracted battle of the Vietnam War.

Members of 131 Divisional Locating Battery on 12 May 1968 waiting to fly into Coral. Like many Australian units, their move to the new base was delayed. [AWM P01766.002]

Members of 131 Divisional Locating Battery on 12 May 1968 waiting to fly into Coral. Like many Australian units, their move to the new base was delayed. [AWM P01766.002]


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View a map of Coral Balmoral [DVA]

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Headlines from The Australian Wednesday May 15 1968 front page, 'Second worst day of the war for Australians'. Over almost four weeks of fighting at Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral the story received a degree of press attention in the Australian media, but less, perhaps than may have been expected of such a major series of engagements. This example from The Australian of 15 May 1968 places the coverage of the early fighting at Coral in the context of other newsworthy events of the time. [Image courtesy of the National Library of Australia, permission to use this material has been provided by News Limited]