The Vietnam War
In the 60’s around 1964 compulsory service for 20-year-old males was introduced. They were made to serve a minimum of 2 years overseas full time service, although the full time service rule was reduced 18 months in 1971. In the late 1960’s conscription grew in Australia in 1965 a group of women formed the anti conscription organisation “Save Our Sons”. This was done in Sydney with other branches later forming in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. This movement protested against conscription of Australians to fight in the Vietnam War. In 1972 late December conscription ended under the new Whitlam labour government.
In 1970 it was the first time an Australian unit was sent home without being replaced. On the 18th of August 1971 Australian and New Zealand decided to withdraw troops from Vietnam. It wasn’t until 1972 that the Gough Whitlam government pulled the remaining advisors out of Vietnam.
Australia and New Zealand were both close allies to the United States and members of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation who both sent troops to Vietnam. Australia also began to send advisors to Vietnam they kept doing this until 1965 when combat troops were committed. New Zealand sent detachment engineers, Special Forces and regular infantry. Australia’s peek commitment was 7,672 combat troops. New Zealand’s was only 552. Majority of these soldiers served in the Australian Task Force. Australia introduced conscription again this was to expand its armed forces. Several Australian and New Zealand forces were awarded “U.S citations” for their service in South Vietnam.
War, it changes men’s natures. The tragedy of war is that normal men commit to these horrors that would not be done in everyday life. It is very easy for non-veterans to play down the experiences of the combat experiences of Vietnam veterans.