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Category: Conflicts/Vietnam

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Battalions of the 

Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) 

  • This page is designed as an overview of the activities of the RAR in SVN. 
  • More detailed accounts of the individual battalions can be found at  (click the links) . . . but have a look around first








    The lines at Nui Dat from Vietnam Pictures Ian Cavanough 2 Pl A Coy 2 RAR Vietnam 70/71
  • 2RAR, 4RAR & 6RAR include the ANZAC Component supplied by 1RNZIR, The Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment.

Deep in the lines at Nui Dat from Vietnam Pictures Ian Cavanough 2 Pl A Coy 2 RAR Vietnam 70/71  

Each Battalion  consisted of, (details relevant to the era 1965/72)
  • Battalion HQ Group
    (5 Officers and 31 Other ranks),
  • 4 x Rifle Companies (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta)
    (ea of 5 Officers and 118 Other ranks)
    • Each company consisted  of,
      Company HQ -  2 Officers and 13 Other ranks
      Support Section - 6 Other ranks and
      3 x Platoons  each of 
      • platoon HQ, 1 officer and 3 other ranks ( Plt Sgt, radio op and batman) and
      • 3 x Rifle Sections  each of 10 Other ranks (1 Cpl, 1 L/Cpl, 8 Ptes)


  • Support Company Support Company HQ -  1 Officers and 12 Other ranks plus
    • Mortar Platoon - 2 Officers and 31 Other ranks
      • provided mortar support for the battalion and the Task Force with six  81mm mortar tubes and generally operated from the base area or from a Fire Support Base (FSB). A Mortar FO  would accompany rifle companies.

    • Anti-Tank Platoon - 1 Officers and 31 Other ranks
      • equipped with 16 Medium Anti-Tank Weapons (MAW) the Platoon provided additional fire support for the battalion.
    • Signals Platoon - 1 Officer and  39 Other ranks
      • equipped with the ANPRC 25 radio set provided and maintained all radio and telephone communication requirements for the battalion. Each rifle company HQ was allocated two radio operators. Radio Operators manned the radios and telephones in the battalion Command Post (CP) and accompanied the battalion on operations. Platoon radio operators were normally drawn from the platoon itself.

    • Assault Pioneer Platoon - 1 Officers and 31 Other ranks
      • played a similar role to engineers. This Platoon provided valuable support for the battalion in defence works, mine detection and field engineering
    • Surveillance Platoon - 1 Officer and 14 Other ranks 


  • Administration Company

    • Headquarters - 1 Officer and  6 Other ranks

    • Quartermaster Platoon - 3 Officers and 42 Other ranks

    • Medical Platoon - 1 Officer and  38 Other ranks 

      • Administration Company  provided ammunition, stores, motor vehicles, cooks and medical staff.  Admin Coy was tasked to provide everything required for the battalion to operate, at base and on operations.

Total Strength = 37 Officers and 755 Other ranks

It is unlikely that any battalion ever went into the field at full strength. Illness, leave entitlements, troops ending period of engagement all sapped a battalions strength. The numbers above are a guide only and were altered to suit circumstances on a daily, weekly and tour basis.

The Infantry Rifle Section

Composition - 1 Cpl (Section Commander) - 1 L/Cpl (Section 2i/c) - Scout Group(2 Pte) - Gun Group(2 Pte) - Rifle Group(4 Pte).

Weapons Used by Infantry Rifle Sections

L1A1 Self Loading Rifle (SLR) - semi auto - fired a   7.62mm standard NATO round - weight 10lbs - magazine capacity 20 rounds - range 300metres - standard issue weapon for all soldiers in the Australian Army. Very robust and dependable weapon. Each soldier carried at least 150 rounds each.

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M16A1  Armalite Rifle - (Colt AR15) fully auto - 5.56mm round - weight 7 lbs. - magazine capacity 20/30 rounds - range 300 metres - carried primarily by forwards scouts in each section of a rifle company, also issued to selected appointments in a unit. This weapon was not issued to Australian troops until stocks were obtained form US sources in 1966. Early versions of this weapon were prone to stoppages and breakages, caused mainly by an unsatisfactory and weak alloy bolt carrier. That was fixed.

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General Purpose Machine Gun M60 (GPMG M60) - fired a  7.62mm round and fed by linked ammo belt of 100 rounds - weight 23 lb - range up to 1100 metres. This was the main fire support weapon for each section who carried 1 M60 and at least 1200 rounds. Reliable weapon , provided ammunition belts were kept clean and the weapon was well maintained. Was prone to continual stoppages if the weapon became too worn.

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F1 Sub Machine Gun - fired a 9mm round - magazine capacity 30 rounds - weight 7.2 lb - range 100 metres. This weapon was totally unsuitable for conditions in Vietnam. The range (100 Metres) and low velocity of the 9mm round was not capable of penetrating the jungle and undergrowth. The M16 Armalite was eventually issued in place of this weapon.

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40 MM M79  Grenade Launcher - carried by each rifle section with 36 rounds - weight 6 lb - range 300 metres. Very effective against enemy troops and light installations.

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M26 Fragmentation Grenade - carried by each member of a rifle section - lethal radius of 10 metres. Used effectively for close quarter fighting and clearing enemy bunkers and weapon pits. A smooth bodied high explosive grenade. It weighed 425g with a fuse delay of five seconds. The average throwing distance was 40 metres. Its blast radius was ten metres, with a killing distance of 5 metres and a wounding distance of up to 25 metres. The members were initially issued with two M26 grenades per man.

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No 83 Smoke Grenade -  used in various colours to indicate to position of enemy and friendly troops. Used largely to indicate to helicopters and aircraft, the position of a unit. Helicopters would not land or evacuate wounded until a smoke grenade was thrown and the colour of the grenade was verified.

M49 Trip Flare - and used at night as an early warning device to detect and illuminate enemy movement.

M18 Claymore Mine - 10 carried by each rifle section - range of 50 metres. Used extensively as a defensive weapon in night harbours and was most effective when used in ambushing enemy parties.

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M72 66 mm Light Anti-Tank Weapon LAW) -  weight 4.5 lbs. - range 200 metres. Light weight and simple design, this weapon was most effective against enemy installations such as bunkers and buildings. Fired a high explosive round from a disposable launcher.

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A Typical Load carried by an Infantry Soldier.

Individual items of gear included, basic webbing harness, weapon and ammunition, a shell dressing, entrenching tool, machete,  M26 grenade, nine full water bottles, five days rations,  small stove and hexamine tablets for cooking, shaving gear, steel mug, shelter, lightweight blanket, hammock, spare socks and bayonet. 

In addition each 10 man section shared a load of,  6 x 100 round belts for the M60 MG, spare barrel for the M60 MG,  M49 flares, smoke grenades, white phosphorus grenades, grenade spigots and ballastite cartridges, claymore mines, detonating cord, plastic explosive, M79 rounds, M72 LAWs, spare radio batteries, torch, starlight scope night vision device, panel markers for  identification to aircraft, binoculars, compass, maps, protractor, pace counter, strobe light, secateurs, medical kit, watches, codes and writing equipment.

Signallers carried the ANPRC Radio with spares batteries and  handset and antennas.
Platoon medics carried a comprehensive medical kit.


Dress - consisted of jungle greens with sleeves down, general purpose boots (GPs), sweat rag, floppy green bush hat.

photo from Vietnam Remembered

Supporting Arms and Services
Without the assistance of supporting Arms and Services an infantry battalion would not be able to operate effectively, these included;

  • Forward Observers - (RAA) Artillery Forward Observers (FO parties) accompanied the battalion and rifle companies on operations to co-ordinate and control artillery support fire. Many a bad situation was saved by timely and accurate artillery fire laid down by these FOs directing fire from Australian 105mm howitzers.

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  • Engineers - (RAE) - were used for mine detection and clearance, demolition, tunnel clearance, erection of defences and any other engineering tasks.

  • Tanks and APCs - (RAAC) - Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) were used extensively by the infantry on operations. Centurion tanks also provided close support, especially in bunker and well defended installations.

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  • Cooks - Australian Army Catering Corps (AACC) - not in an operational role.

  • Electrical and Mechanical Engineers - (RAEME). maintained all mechanical and radio equipment.

  • Medical - (RAAMC) - 1 Doctor at base and  a fully qualified medic accompanied each company on operations. Also operated the battalion Regimental Aid Post (RAP).

  • Radio Operators - (RA Sigs) to maintain communications between the battalion and higher command(1 ATF). All other signal requirements were met by the battalion's  Signal Platoon.

  • Army Padre - provided for the spiritual welfare of all soldiers regardless of religious faith.

  • Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) - 9 Sqn RAAF helicopters continually supported the battalion by providing airlift, 'Dustoff" (medivac) helicopters and 'Bushranger' Gunships in close support.


Summary of Tours of RAR Battalions

Unit/Tour Dates in Vietnam
1 RAR-1st Tour
2nd Tour
25 May 65-14 Jun 66
19 Jan 68-28 Feb 69
2 RAR-1st Tour
2nd Tour
1 Apr 67-7 Jul 68
28 Apr 70-4 Jun 71
3 RAR-1st Tour
2nd Tour
12 Dec 67-5 Dec 68
12 Feb 71-19 Oct 71
4 RAR-1st Tour
2nd Tour
29 Jan 68-30 May 69
1 May 71-12 Mar 72
5 RAR-1st Tour
2nd Tour
1 Apr 66-5 Jul 67
28 Jan 69-5 Mar 70
6 RAR-1st Tour
2nd Tour
1 Apr 66-7 Jul 67
7 May 69-28 May 70
7 RAR-1st Tour
2nd Tour
2 Mar 67-26 Apr 68
10 Feb 70-10 Mar 71
8 RAR 18 Nov 69-12 Nov 70
9 RAR 5 Nov 68-5 Dec 69
Total 25 May 65-12 Mar 72

The dates shown above are sourced from the Dept of Veterans Affairs and are the recognised operational dates in Vietnam, for the purposes of Repatriation. Dates include Advance and Rear Parties. 

 some details from


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