||This page is a sub
Australian Army Training Team
Vietnam. (AATTV) "Persevere"
The streamer of the US Meritorious Unit Commendation,
now at AWM
AUSTRALIAN ARMY TRAINING TEAM VIETNAM
"It is their
war and you are to help them, not win it for them"
(Lawrence of Arabia, 1917)
Un-official hat badge
||The Australian Army Training Team
Vietnam (AATTV), affectionately known as "The Team", was
raised and sent to Vietnam in 1962 initially under the command of
Colonel F.P. Serong (now Brigadier, retired).
<<Colonel F.P. Serong (now Brigadier,
retired) with Vietnamese officers at Dong Da.
This is the uniform tunic of a
Brigadier who had served with AATTV. It is not Serong's.
The Unit at this time consisted of 30
Officers and Warrant Officers who were originally to be employed in the
training roles of Vietnamese Units. As the war escalated in1965 AATTV
was increased to 100 members (including some Staff Sergeants, Sergeants
and Corporals) and they were employed from the Delta areas in the far
South to the Northern border of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) separating
North and South Vietnam.
AATTV was both elite and unique. It's
members were specially selected, it was small, and for it's size it was
one of the most highly decorated Units in the history of the Australian
Army. It's claim to uniqueness springs from a number of factors; it
existed only in Vietnam where members joined it from Australia, singly
or in drafts, it consisted mostly of Officers and Warrant Officers who
operated individually, in pairs, or occasionally in groups of normally
not more than ten; and it's task was unique- training, advising, or
commanding a variety of Vietnamese forces. The first Australian Unit
into Vietnam and the last out, it was operational for ten years, four
months, and sixteen days, achieving the distinction of being the longest
serving unit of any service in any theatre of war.
Even if only because
of it's name, it is not likely to exist again. The members of AATTV were
so spread across South Vietnam that they met as a Unit only on ANZAC
day, and once when they paraded in Vung Tau in 1970 to receive a Unit
honour from the Commander of the American Forces, General Abrams.
Collectively the Unit can claim to have built up a special knowledge of
the war as it was fought over the whole of South Vietnam. Early in the
conflict the Unit was referred to by a Federal MP as "the
Peter Shilston (AATTV) Commander of 1st Mike Battalion in a
Montagnard village with a Vietnamese officer.
The AATTV identification shoulder
patch is green shield with gold lettering, a boomerang with 'AATTV '
across the top of the shield, a crossbow depiction the Unit's
involvement with the Montagnard tribes of the mountain regions who
played a large part in "The Team's" operations and below this,
a scroll with the word 'Persevere' entered within.
British and Australian military awards
received by all ranks during the period 1962 - 1972 were:
|Victoria Cross (VC)
Distinguished Service Order (DSO) 2
Order of the British Empire (OBE) 3
Member of the British Empire (MBE) 6
Military Cross (MC) 6
Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) 20
Military Medal (MM) 16
British Empire Medal (BEM) 4
Mentioned in Dispatches (MID) 49
Queens Commendation 4
A total of 114
decorations in all. Add to this the Unit decorations of the United States
Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Unit Citation of the Vietnamese Cross
of Gallantry with Palm and individual awards from both US and Vietnamese
Governments too numerous to mention here and one can begin to understand
the esteem with which the AATTV was held by all Allies involved in the
||Rank brassard worn by Warrant
Officer Class II Rayene (Ray) Stewart Simpson VC,
during his third period of service with the Australian Army Training
Team Vietnam (AATTV) 1968-1969. On 6 May 1969 Simpson was then serving
in Kontum Province on the Laos/Cambodian border as commander of the
232nd Company of the Mobile Strike Force of the 5th Special Forces Group
in a search and clear operation when the enemy was encountered in a
series of action over six days. Simpson's leadership and bravery during
these encounters earned him the Victoria Cross.
A total of 1000 members
served with AATTV during the entire period of the conflict - 1962 to 1972.
This consisted of 990 Australians and 10 New Zealanders. Casualties were
recorded as 33 members Killed In Action (KIA) and 122 as Wounded in Action
Cross of Gallantry with Palm- Unit Citation.
The following extract was
taken from the book; "Australians at War, Vietnam - The Australian Experience" one
of a series of volumes produced by Time Life Books Australia:
regular morning commercial flight from Singapore to Saigon on August 3,
1962, a remarkable transformation took place among a number of male
passengers. There were 29 of them, short haired, strong looking men in
civilian clothes. One by one, they left their seats, strode purposefully
down the aisle and disappeared into the lavatory for a few minutes. When
each passenger emerged, he had made a quick change into the jungle-green
combat uniform of an Australian soldier.
The men were the
first Australian troops to be engaged formally in Vietnam. They were the
Officers and senior NCOs of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam,
soon to be known simply as "The Team". For reasons of diplomatic
sensitivity, this initial contingent had been instructed not to wear their
uniforms when boarding the plane in Singapore; later such niceties would
be dropped. If "The Team" was the first Australian unit to go to
Vietnam, it would also be the last to leave that tragic place.
It would remain there,
doing it's best for Australian foreign policy and the non-Communist South
Vietnamese, for nearly ten and a half years - by far the longest period of
time any Australian Unit of any service had served in war.
So critical were "The
Team's" jungle skills that it's first leader was himself a former
Commandant of the Jungle Training Centre at Canungra, Queensland.
Confident and innovative, Colonel F.P. Serong had recently returned from a
two-year stint as adviser to the Burmese army. On his way back to
Australia, he had toured Vietnam and had observed the deteriorating combat
situation at first hand. His personal qualities and his intimate
understanding of the type of war being fought made him an ideal choice to
head "The Team". The Americans thought so highly of Serong that
he was consulted at the highest levels; indeed, he ranked as a special
adviser on counter-insurgency to General Paul D. Harkins, Commander of all
U.S. forces in Vietnam."
wording part copied from
Brisbane. Keith Payne VC renews an old acquaintance with Charlie Mene
Wheatley VC >>
cheers for game Digger
from Denis Warner in
American marines and South Vietnamese troops leaped to their feet and
cheered when an Australian warrant-officer commanding a company of Nung
tribesmen at Con Thien on the southern edge of the demilitarised zone
ran 350 yards under heavy fire to rescue two of his men stranded beyond
the perimeter of the camp.
“It was the
bravest act I have ever seen in my life,” said Major Marvin Camp of
the Marine Corps. “If that guy was an American, no decoration would be
to high for him.”
warrant-officer will not get even public recognition of his act. “My
wife thinks I’m running a base cam,” he said. “She has no idea
what I’m doing and I don’t want her to know. Please don’t use my
The action, if not
the deed, was typical, however, of the sort of fray the Australian
advisers in I Corps have found themselves
involved in during the past two months of heavy fighting.
The action here
began on May 8 when heavy formations of North Vietnamese regular troops
attacked Con Thien. The post was held by about 100 Special Forces, about
300 Vietnamese irregulars and two companies of US Marines who were there
to defend the engineers building the “fire break” south of the
rifles, the North Vietnamese knocked out two amphibious tractors and a
small tank. Then with flamethrowers, they charged the bunkers held by
the marines. The marines stood their ground but at daylight the next
morning the North… had a foothold.
Two day s later the
Australian company of Nungs
arrived to reinforce the position while a …forms, initially of
battalion strength to fight its way in from the west,. Before it got
there it had to be reinforced eight times.
con Thien was now
under more or less continuous mortar fire and to this was added fire
from rockets and recoilless rifles.
On May 2, however,
the Australian Nungs pushed out on patrol for 1,500 yards. They had
started to fan out in platoon when they came under heavy mortar fire.
The platoon, led by Warrant Officer Clarrie Upton, of Casino, NSW
suffered seven casualties in the first burst of fire.
Armed only with
carbines and one machine-gun, Upton’s group began to fall back. “When they saw we were pulling back,
the Charlies (the Vietcong) got out of their holes and chased us with
mortars,” Upton said. “We withdrew along the edge of the cleared strip (the
“firebreak” which the Seabees have built from Gio Linh to Con
Thien). Charlie even et up a mortar on the strip to have a go at us, but
we opened up with the machine-gun and fired enough to drive him off”.
At this point a Sergeant Johnson entered the action. Alerted that
Upton was bringing in his wounded under fire, he drove an ambulance out of Con
Thien, dodging the minefield and enemy fire to pick them up.
The wounded and what
appeared to be the rest of the patrol were all back in Con Thien when
the warrant-officer company commander, who cannot be named, saw his two
stragglers stranded on the firebreak and the easiest of targets for the
North Vietnamese gunners.
He describes his own
reaction as one of anger. He was furious that the two men had let
themselves be left behind. Major Camp and others who saw him go through
the wire tell a different
He was under heavy
automatic fire as soon as he went out, said Major Camp. “We didn’t
think he had a chance”. But the warrant officer got to the men, seized
them by the arm and ran back and out of sight of the men watching from
the bunkers on the hill.
“Next time we saw
was one come up and the the next and finally –himself. Man you
couldn’t stop yourself cheering them.”
||Large wooden Roll of Honour
plaque bearing at the top a green plastic shield edged in white. The
shield shows a yellow inverted boomerang with red lettering 'AATTV'
above a brown crossbow. Beneath this is a yellow scroll bearing the
motto 'PERSEVERE' in red.
Underneath the shield is painted
yellow lettering 'ROLL OF HONOUR 1962-1972'. Thirty-three small engraved
brass plaques have been attached to the main plaque, each bearing the
name, initials, rank and date of death of members of the Australian Army
Training Team who died during service in South Vietnam. Gallantry
decorations are also indicated if applicable. The engraving has been
carried out at different times in different styles and the letters have
been filled in with red.
The back of the plaque is marked in
black 'PLAQUE SHOP (partly legible Vietnamese lettering) Danang'. A slot
in the back shows that the plaque was originally designed to hang on a
wall. The wooden foot, secured by a length of chain, was added in
Australia in the 1980s to allow the plaque to be used at ceremonies held
in the open.
- 'SGT W F HACKING 1 JUN 63,
- WO2 K G CONWAY 6 JUL 64,
- WO2 R A SCOTT 10 SEP 65,
- WO2 K A WHEATLEY VC 13 NOV
- WO2 R J SWANTON 13 NOV 65,
- WO2 R V LEES 13 JAN 66,
- WO2 J A MACDONALD 7 FEB 66,
- CAPT G R BELLEVILLE 12 FEB
- WO2 J H ANDREWS 21 FEB 66,
- WO2 T D PHILLIPS MID 20 MAR
- WO2 W A BLANCK 20 SEP 66,
- WO2 M P HANLEY 20 FEB 67,
- MAJ P J BADCOE VC 7 APR 67,
- WO2 J M STONE 19 APR 67,
- CAPT K W BAUDISTEL 13 AUG 67,
- WO2 A P SIGGERS 21 AUG 67,
- WO2 A J ROBERTSON 5 DEC 67,
- WO2 M A HENDERSON 16 DEC 67,
- WO2 R SEILER 16 DEC 67,
- WO2 A PARELLO MID 1 FEB 68,
- CAPT A DANILENKO MID 25 APR
- WO2 F G HAMERSLEY MID 30 MAY
- WO2 J DURRINGTON 30 MAY 68,
- WO2 J GARRIGAN 27 DEC 68,
- WO2 J A BOND 25 APR 69,
- WO2 M W GILL MID 6 MAY 69,
- WO2 B WALSH MM 27 JUN 69,
- WO2 K J TROY 23 NOV 69,
- WO2 J G PETTIT 3 APR 70,
- WO2 J FITZGERALD 17 APR 70,
- WO2 F L RAFFEN 7 AUG 70,
- WO2 T LYDDIETH 18 FEB 71,
- CPL T D BLACKHURST 17 APR 71'.
||Mekong Delta, South
Vietnam. November 1971.
The owl insignia, the badge presented to
students who graduate from the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam
(AATTV) night operations training course. The course was conducted at two
bases in the Mekong Delta.