Posts Tagged ‘vietnam war’

The book I read to research this post was Vietnam by John Pimlott which is a very good book which I bought at a car boot sale. This book is a history of the Vietnam War that also concentrates on the tactics used by the various armies involved. Each chapter is written by a different author and John edited it. In the wake of World War 2 Hanoi was the centre of a communist government and later the name was changed to Ho Chi Minh City and they had designs on conquering all Indo-China. The French fought a largely with mostly paratroopers and the Foreign Legion but eventually pulled out. America & Australia largely continued the fight which did change our perceptions of what is happening when a foreign power invades another country a long way away and whether it is necessary for countries like the United States. America would have had a much better chance of winning the war had they focused more on capturing the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese. The Americans did win most of the individual battles but destroyed much of the jungle and caused much hardship for people living there. The NVA or North Vietnamese Army although they changed leadership in 1967 due to their campaigns not going to plan did fight a better propaganda war and fought a harrying campaign with small units. The Green Berets were very successful in sending out small units in the jungle using many similar tactics. Blacks in America thought the drafting rules unfairly discriminated against them and were often hostile towards their white officers. The NVA were often supplied via supply lines in Laos & Cambodia which meant American forces had to fight there. The Vietnamese invaded Cambodia in the wake of the Khmer Rouge and were criticized for not pulling out sooner than they eventually did. American involvement in Vietnam in terms of troops reached a peak around 1969 and was gradually reduced there after. As the war progressed Vietnamese people who spread propaganda or speculated could be put to death such was the problem with the NVA spreading it. This was a really interesting book and it is probably one of my favorite topics. This book is long out of print but if you see it for sale cheaply secondhand is worth getting.


The book I read to research this post was Shockwave by Peter Haran which is a very good book which I bought from kindle. This book is about the lives of the Australian Military helicopter crews during the Vietnam War. It focuses on one crew in particular that when Haran was serving in the army had frequently to be taken to battle sites in the jungle by them. Australia sent their military forces to help the Americans fight the North Vietnamese in the Vietnam War. From 1968 Australia curbed the amount of Military in Vietnam and by 1971 had withdrawn. The Americans withdrew in 1973. Australia still left a limited number of Military Advisors there after leaving. Many pilots with lots of military experience were leaving the Air Force and joining civilian airlines like Quantas and in the case of the helicopter pilot Haran knew he was lured into flying helicopters. His previous experience was flying bombers at 7 miles per minute. The only bombers used by the Australian’s in Vietnam at that time were Canberras which he couldn’t fly. At that time they were losing a lot of experienced pilots with a war looming and had to do something about it. They persuaded Quantas to allow their pilots who had just joined them from the military to let them go back in the Air Force if they wanted. The helicopters he flew were Iroquois. Many of the American helicopters were named after Native American Tribes at that time. Also like Haran he did several tours of Vietnam. Many of the Ex Vets found it difficult to adjust to ordinary life and the military was eager to sign them up. After the war the pilot travelled around the world with his partner. The helicopters enabled the military to deliver fresh soldiers to a battlefield in the jungle to do battle. Obviously they could recover wounded and also they were converted to carry a machine gun and other weapons so do a lot of damage. They were vital to the war effort.

The book I read to research this post was Trackers by Peter Haran which is a very good book which I bought from kindle. This book was a bit of a surprise hit in Australia and Peter has written other books about his experiences in Vietnam since. I did review some of his other books quite some time ago & you should be able to find them at

This book is about his work in the Vietnam War working in the Australian SAS as a tracker with 2 tracker dogs although he worked with them separately. The dogs were trained at an army base in South Australia & they only used Labradors & Labrador Crosses. They were used to track people, sniff out explosives ¬†and find trip wires. They used human trackers in addition to the dogs if they were looking for someone. The soldiers did a 12 month tour of duty but one dog had to 3 years. They didn’t bother taking them back to Australia due to the quarantine rules. They soldiers often offered to pay the dogs expenses if they could take them back home but it was refused. One dog in particular had shell shock and had to be retired. At the end of the war the dogs were given to the Vietnamese Army. I enjoyed reading this book and also his other books are worth reading.

The book I read to research this post was Goodbye Vietnam by Robert W Wood which is an excellent book which I bought from Kindle. It’s about his experiences as a marine in vietnam. He thought it was impossible for his drill sergaent to be angry with all of them at once but was wrong. The biggest recruit inadvertantly looked at him rather look straight ahead. He hit him over the head with his stick & told him if he wants him to look at him he’ll poke his eyes out & stick them on his sleeve lapels. They did have people who checked if they were abused in any way but everyone was terrified of reporting him. On another occasion when they were in vietnam they had found a mine & just to be awkward the commanding officer made them spend 2 hours digging up the surrounding plants prior to detonating it. Apparently most of the battles the South Vietnamese & the Americans had with the Cong they won. It was the propaganda battle the Americans lost. Also the Americans despite what they said didn’t continue supplying the South Vietnamese after they pulled out. The communists in contrast stepped up supplies. In the 2 weeks war was waged after the Americans pulled out the South Vietnamese lost almost as many men as the Americans in the whole conflict. We will never if the South Vietnamese could have fended off the NVA if they had adequate supplies. Also the NVA broke almost every agreement they made with the Americans over how they were going to treat the South Vietnamese after all there was not much chance of the allies restarting the war.

The book I read to research this post was Crossfire by Peter Haran which is an excellent book which I bought from Kindle. This book is a sequel to Tracker by the same author which was primarily about a tracking dog called Caesar which was used by Peter for reconnaisance during the Vietnam war. This book is about Peter’s & other vets experiences during the war & how they coped with it in the aftermath. The Vietnam War which Australia was involved in from 62-72 was the longest war in Australian history. The 1st regiment sent in was 5RAR which stands for Royal Australian Regiment & the author was a member. When you reached 20 you were entered into a lottery & if you were unfortunate enough to be picked you were conscripted. About half of those conscripted were sent to Vietnam. In 1969 Australian forces were at there peak in Vietnam, after that they were gradually cut back. In one story a soldier was being transported on a lorry & had to jump off presumably because it came under fire & his finger was severed in half & it along with his wedding was stuck under the grille. The North Vietnamese Army were a lot better trained & equiped than a lot of people realise. They often had things like mortars & rockets & they even had crack troop regiments. In another story the NVA had a massive underground bunker which was covered by a canopy of thousands of leaves stitched together by hand. This bunker was so well protected a ground force would never be able to take it. As it was jets dropped bombs & napalm so the NVA didn’t stand a chance. Napalm was developed specifically for this conflict. If you were within range it sucked the air out of your lungs, stuck to your skin & would burn you. Many soldiers treated thereself to a fancy car when they left the army. Some soldiers died on their 1st day or 1st week in the country. The war especially as it dragged on was deeply unpopular with Australians.