In 1940, Ho Chi Minh organised the Viet Cong (League of Vietnamese Independence) to resist the Japanese military occupation. By1945, the Viet Minh was in control of Vietnam.
At a peace meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland, it was decided to divid Vietnam into two at the 17th Parallel. North Vietnam would be a Communist republic and South Vietnam would be a Capitalist republic. The decision of whether the country would reunite was to be decided at the 1956 election.
On the 16th of July 1955, Ngo Dinh Diem rejected the terms of the Geneva Accord (the previous peace agreement), announcing that South Vietnam would have nothing to do with the 1956 elections
The Vietnam War was fought from 1962 to 1975 against Communist North Vietnam and Capitalist South Vietnam. Australia, America, New Zealand and South Korea were all helping South Vietnam, whereas China, North Korea and the Soviet Union were helping North Vietnam. The war resulted in a communist victory.
On November 1st 1963, Ngo Dinh Diem was assassinated. The United States government, President Kennedy and the South Vietnamese Army were all dissatisfied with the ruler of the South.
In November 1963, Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) replaced JFK as President of the United States.
LBJ ordered air strikes against North Vietnam after an attack on American naval ships. The campaign is known as 'Rolling Thunder'. Bombing raids were set up against suspected Viet Cong positions in both the North and the South military bases. More bombs were dropped on North Vietnam than in the whole of WWII.
In 1965, the South Vietnamese government requested Australian troops be sent to help fight the Vietnam War. However, the Australian public was unaware that Menzies (the Australian Prime Minister) had asked South Vietnam to request Australia's help.
In march 1965, 300-500 unarmed civilians were slaughtered by American troops at a village called My Lai. The massacre was led by Lieutnant Calley.
Prime Minister Harold Halt announced that conscripts would be sent to fight in the Vietnam War. This was the first time that conscripts had been sent to fight overseas. People began protesting against conscription, particularly religious groups, university students and Australian Communist Party members
At the famous battle of Long Tan, a small battalion of Australian soldiers held off over 2500 Viet Cong troops for a number of hours. 18 Australians were killed and 245 Viet Cong bodies were later found dead. Even though Australia lost the battle, they made it hard for the Viet Cong to carry out their guerrila operations.
During the Vietnamese Tet (New Year) holiday the North Vietnamese along with the Viet Cong launched a massive offense against South Vietnam. The Communists were able to capture much territory and killed a large number of enemies. It took many weeks for the South Vietnamese and American troops to recapture towns, but they believed in order to save them, towns had to be destroyed. The Tet Offensive resulted in a sense that the war was unwinnable and morally wrong.
For years, the Australian public was protesting against Australia's involvement in the war and in 1972, Australia's new elected Labor Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, announced that Australia was pulling it's troops out of the Vietnam.
On the 23rd of January 1973 a ceasefire was signed in Paris, which mean't the American forces had to withdraw from the war.
After the withdrawal of the American Army, South Vietnam was unsure of itself and it's leaders became corrupt. On the 30th of April 1975, North Vietnamese troops captured Saigon (the capital of South Vietnam) after a series of victories. This event marked the end of the Vietnam War.