Australia, New Zealand and the United States agreed to come to one anothers aid in times of conflict.
March 1954 was the turning point in Vietnam history as 8000 French lives were lost in the disastrous battle of Dien Bien Phu. it was later decided by the World Peace Committee that Vietnam should be split into two different sections at the 17th parallel, making the North a Communist republic and the South a Democratic Capitalist republic.
the SEATO treaty of 1954 stands for the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty. This meant that the United States, Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Pakistan, South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were all under protection in the event of an attack, SEATO was there to help.
on july 16 1955 Ngo Dinh Diem - ruler of south Vietnam - rejected the terms of the previous agreement - the Geneva Accord - and announced that the south of Vietnam would have nothing to do with the proposed 1956 elections as he didn't believe that the north would provide fair elections. knowing that Ho Chi Mihn was likely to win as he was popular with the people.
president Diem was known for being a very unpopular leader as he reversed land reforms and gave back farmland to the rich landlords. He was a strong catholic and when buddhist monks spoke their minds truthfully about Diem he had their temples attacked and many monks arrested. in 1960 the communists came together and created the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam, commonly known as Viet Cong. Modelled on the guerrilla tactics of the Viet Mihn, they mainly operated in rural areas, using the villagers to gain information. they smuggled their weapons and various supplies along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
The Vietnam war was started in 1962 it was fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. South Vietnam was backed by anti-communist countries and members of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO) which included the United States, South Korea, Australia, Philippines, New Zealand, Thailand and the Republic of China. The North was backed up by Communist forces such as Pathet Lao (Laotian Communist insurgents), Khmer Rouge (Cambodian Communist insurgents), People’s Republic of China, the Soviet Union and North Korea.
Like America military advisors were sent in 1962, and combat troops after 1965. A huge number of Australian women and men served in the conflict. fear of communism being the only reason Australia committed troops to war. Helping out America in this time of need would also help Australia in return one day as they were guaranteed protection in case of an attack
by 1963 America and powerful figures from the south side of Vietnam were dissatisfied with Diems actions. on the 1st of November 1963 Diem was murdered in a staged operation by officers from the south. although his death seemed like it would fix things but it really didn't, the political corruption and tense feelings towards the south didn't end.
LBJ orders air strikes against North Vietnam. a campaign called 'Rolling Thunder'. 30 ton loads of bombs were being dropped from a height of over 30,000 feet, making them highly inaccurate. Troop numbers had grown from 23,300 to 184,000, continuously growing, by 1969 there were over 542,000 troops. The US Chiefs of Staff and president LBJ remained certain that with overwhelming force is the way to win the war.
In March 1965 American soldiers led by Lieutenant William Calley slaughtered between 300 and 500 hundred unarmed citizens. torturing innocent people burning their houses down and shooting those who tried to escape. alongside the killings, napalm bombs were dropped as well as defoliation chemicals to destroy the surrounding foliage. destroying the jungle where the Viet Cong had once hidden.
During the TET (New Year) holiday, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army launched a massive offensive against the South. Communist forces captured much territory that day as the Americans and South Vietnamese were caught off guard. Though it was short lasted, the Americans recaptured the towns quite quickly. the TET Offensive was a severe physiological blow to America. The cost of this war was coming in at around 30 billion a year, it strained the American economy and increased the belief of this war to be unconquerable and immorally wrong.
Agent Orange was the most commonly used chemical mixture in the Vietnam for defoliation. By 1967 an estimated 20 percent of jungles, 36 percent of mangroves and 42 percent of food corps had been destroyed in Vietnam. The main aim of this defoliation was to uncover the Viet Cong. By the 70's agent orange was linked with three possible disabilities: cancer, birth abnormalities and toxic brain dysfunction.
During an anti-war demonstration in Ohio, National Guard Soldiers opened fire killing four Kent State University students and wounding many others.
on the 23rd of January a ceasefire was signed in Paris, which allowed for the complete withdrawal of the American forces in Vietnam, and by the end of March every American troop had been pulled out.
The war between the North and South was still ongoing and by the 30th of April 1975 the North entered and captured Saigon. Leaving the remaining defenders running in fear and jumping onto the American helicopters.
A welcome home parade was held in sydney on the 3rd of October 1987 it was a long overdue parade but the Australian soldiers finally received the recognition they needed.