50th anniversary of Operation Overlord, Vietnam

50th anniversary of Operation Overlord, Vietnam sarah.schofield Tue, 13/04/2021 - 09:59

On 7 June 2021, DVA will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Operation Overlord, including the Battle of Long Khanh — one of Australia’s last major operations in the Vietnam War.

A National Commemorative Service will be held at the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial on Anzac Parade in Canberra.

Named after the Allied invasion of Normandy with whose anniversary it coincided, Operation Overlord was undertaken after intelligence suggested the North Vietnamese Army was using a buffer zone between the Phuoc Tuy and Long Khanh provinces to train and equip troops. The operation required permission from then Prime Minister John Gorton, as it would see Australian troops move into Long Khanh province for the first time since being deployed.

Operation Overlord began on 5 June 1971, when Australian troops were deployed to prevent the enemy from gaining a foothold in Phuoc Tuy Province. Operational personnel comprised members of the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) and HQ 1st Australian Task Force, along with a troop of armoured personnel carriers from A Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, tanks from C Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment, sappers from 1st Field Squadron, Royal Australian Engineers, along with artillery support from 12th Field Regiment and air support from No 9 Squadron RAAF and 161 Recce Flight.

On 7 June, Australian troops saw over eight hours of intense fighting, resulting in the defeat of enemy troops and the discovery of a bunker system comprising more than 100 bunkers. In the following days, the bunker system was explored and subsequently destroyed.

The Battle of Long Khanh saw three Australians killed and numerous others wounded, with a further seven Australians killed five days later.

On 7 June 2021, we mark 50 years since Operation Overlord, including the Battle of Long Khanh, and reflect on the qualities of courage and perseverance that characterised the Australians’ service in Vietnam. It is a day to commemorate their service and sacrifice, and reflect on the cost of operations like Overlord to those involved and their families back home.

Black and white photo of a young man in uniform looking at a tank as they crash through jungle

Private Frank Jelen of 3RAR sitting on an armoured recovery vehicle during Operation Overlord on the border of Phuoc Tuy and Long Khanh Provinces, June 1971.