RAR History – 55 years ago

On this day, 27th May 1965, B Coy 1RAR along with other elements of the 1RAR Group boarded HMAS Sydney bound for service in South Vietnam.

The converted aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney, departed Sydney on her first of over 20 voyages to South Vietnam, carrying 347 officers and men of the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) together with vehicles, equipment and stores. The remainder of the battalion flew by chartered Qantas 707 jets on secret overnight flights from Richmond airbase to Saigon over the following two weeks. 

The dispatch of this unit, totalling some 1,100 Australian Regular Army troops, marked the first deployment of Australian combat troops to the struggling Republic of Vietnam. 1RAR was generally considered one of the most professional and best-trained battalions ever to have left Australia, although deficiencies in its equipment and preparation would soon become apparent during extended operations in the bitter war in Vietnam.

Australian support for South Vietnam since the early 1960s was in keeping with the ‘forward defence’ policy of Australia and the ‘containment’ strategy of the United States, aimed at stemming the spread of communism in Southeast Asia.