Battle of Long Tan: Australia’s iconic Vietnam battle – (Books & Movie)

It seemed a good time to write a blog post about these books as I have just watched the movie, released last year, on the Battle of Long Tan.

The movie, DANGER CLOSE, has been produced in close collaboration with the commanders of the Battle of Long Tan which took place on 18 August 1966.

The battle has been acknowledged as the most savage company action of the Australian involvement in the Vietnam War. 108 men of Delta Company 6RAR, supported by artillery, fought off an enemy regiment of four regular Viet Cong and NVA battalions. 17 men were killed and 23 wounded while the enemy lost hundreds.

It would be an oversight not to mention the New Zealanders involved in this action too. There was one New Zealander commander of the units which made up the Australian fighting force.

Later, company commander Harry Smith was to undertake a long and frustrating campaign to have the bravery of his men recognised, having originally prepared citations for approval, only to have them downgraded or rejected at the time. Fifty years on and able to access the archives, he was finally able to get to the truth of how the highest awards for bravery went to the least deserving.

Verdict on the movie: It is well worth seeing. It is a quality production that aims to tell the story of a vicious battle in a war in which Australia really should have had no part. It’s not difficult to understand how veterans of that war struggled in its aftermath.

Harry Smith, writing in the re-release of his 2015 book, recounts his visit to observe filming, not on location in Vietnam but in Queensland (in the Wooroolwin Forest near Kingaroy and at Pimpama on the Gold Coast). Many of the extras were young veterans from Afghanistan. 

I’ve included the links to the movie and books below. The movie can be bought on DVD or streamed. As an Australian production, it’s unlikely to have much traction internationally but if you are interested in Australia’s participation in the Vietnam War, I strongly urge you to watch it.

Original Book (on which the movie is based)

The Battle of Long Tan
As told by the Commanders
By Bob Grandin
Published by Allen & Unwin (2005) LINK HERE
RRP AUD $35.00 in paperback
ISBN 9781741141993

Movie Tie-in

Danger Close
The Battle of Long Tan, as told by the Commanders 
By Bob Grandin
Published by Allen & Unwin (2019)  LINK HERE
RRP $22.99 in paperback
ISBN 978176087726

The Battle of Long Tan
The Company Commander’s Story
by Harry Smith
Published by Big Sky Publishing (2019)  LINK HERE
RRP $22.99 in paperback
ISBN 9781922265050

This book was originally published in 2015 and there is a separate blog post on this site — under the title Long Tan, The Start of a Lifelong Battle.

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