The Start of a Lifelong Battle
by Harry Smith
Published by Big Sky Publishing
RRP $29.99 in paperback
Long Tan: The Start of a Lifelong Battle was launched last year by MAJGEN John Cantwell, AO, DSC (ret’d) who will be remembered for the no-holds-barred story of his own battle with post traumatic stress disorder in Exit Wounds.
This book takes us back 50 years to August 1966 and Vietnam, to the battle of Long Tan, in which a dispersed company of 108 men held its ground with courage and grim determination against a three-sided attack from a force of 2,500 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army troops. When the battle subsided, 17 Australian soldiers lay dead, 24 had been wounded of which one died 9 days later. Battlefield clearance revealed 245 enemy bodies with captured documents later confirming the count at over 500 enemy killed and 800 wounded. The Australian men were led by a gruff and gutsy perfectionist, Major Harry Smith, who now tells his story for the first time.
Written in partnership with award-winning journalist Toni McRae, this book is also Harry’s life story. It tells of his many personal battles, from failed marriages to commando-style killing; from a horrific parachute accident through to his modern-day struggles with bureaucracy for recognition for his soldiers.
Long Tan may be 50 years ago but it has been a constant thread through the fabric of his life, most particularly because of his determination to see his men receive the recognition he believes is long overdue.
To read more about this book and its author, there is a detailed interview at this ABC News link:
The case for awards to the soldiers under Harry Smith’s command is currently before the Defence Honours Tribunal. You can read the details at this link:
This is a story that will resonate with other Vietnam veterans and those who have taken an interest in that ill-fated war.