Southern Highlands’ Vietnam veterans mark 50th anniversary of Battle of Coral and Balmoral

Veterans Rod Cashmere (left) and John Stead (right) lay a wreath at the
Bowral Vietnam Memorial on Friday, May 11. Photo: supplied

Veterans Rod Cashmere (left) and John Stead (right) lay a wreath at the Bowral Vietnam Memorial on Friday, May 11. Photo: supplied

Southern Highlands’ Vietnam veterans marked the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Coral and Balmoral with a commemorative service in Bowral last Friday.

From May 12 to June 6, 1968, 26 Australians were killed in action and 109 wounded fighting the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army (NVA) just north of Saigon in the aftermath of the 1968 Tet Offensive.

It was the fiercest, longest and most costly battle involving Australians in the Vietnam War.

It was estimated that some 300 North Vietnamese soldiers died although the actual number will never be known.

On first day of the battle, NVA soldiers penetrated the Australians’ defensive perimeter at Fire Support Base Coral and overran an artillery gun position.

Eleven Australians were killed that first night. Meanwhile, back in Australia, it was Mothers’ Day 1968.

The Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal recently recommended that units involved at Coral and Balmoral be recognised with a Unit Citation for Gallantry.

Southern Highlands veterans who saw action in the battle include Terry Lee (Bowral), Ken Burt (East Bowral), Rod Cashmere (Moss Vale) and the late Tony Mitchell (formerly of Moss Vale).

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