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Department of Defence
102 “CORAL” BATTERY: FIRST ARMY HONOUR TITLE AWARDED
In a moving ceremony on Mount Pleasant in Canberra earlier today, His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffrey, AC, CVO, MC, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, presented Army’s 102 Field Battery with the Australian Military’s first ever Honour Title.
The Honour Title Coral was awarded to 102 Field Battery, Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery, in recognition of its actions during the Vietnam War. Head of Regiment, Brigadier Phil Winter CSC, welcomed the award on behalf of the Army and gave credit to the outstanding actions of the unit during the long battle.
“This is an important day for the Australian Defence Force, and brings deserved recognition to the Gunners who fought so valiantly to hold their position in Vietnam 40 years ago,” Brigadier Winter said.
“I welcome the title Coral on behalf of the Australian Army, and hope that the story of this battle provides inspiration to our current Diggers who are serving on operations today.”
Today’s ceremony forms part of a series of activities to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the battles of Coral and Balmoral, which took place in South Vietnam during May and June of 1968 and played a significant role in securing Saigon from further attack.
“The battles were the largest and most sustained engagements of the Vietnam War involving Australian troops, and were the first Australian all arms brigade-sized operation since World War II,” Brigadier Winter said.
“Approximately 2,500 Australians participated in the battles and this is an opportunity to thank them for their service, and remember those who did not return home.”
A National Commemoration Ceremony was held at the Australian War Memorial yesterday, and on Monday a reception was hosted by the Prime Minister, the Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, at Parliament House and attended by veterans, dignitaries and guests. Group commemorations in Townsville and Canberra are planned over the coming weeks.
Images will be available from: http://www.defence.gov.au/media/download/
Media contact: Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664
BACKGROUND INFORMATION – HONOUR TITLE 102 FIELD BATTERY
1. Units that usually engage the enemy with direct fire, Armoured, Infantry and Aviation have traditionally been awarded Battle Honours for distinguished performance in battle. The fact that units of the Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery (RAA) are present at almost every significant battle, and that they do not usually engage the enemy with direct fire, has been recognised by the award of a single, embracing battle Honour, UBIQUE (Everywhere).
1. To recognise a particular performance by a unit or sub-unit of the RAA or the RAE, the Australian Battle Honour system (modelled on the British system) allows for the use of an Honour Title, in which a distinguishing feature is incorporated into the name of the unit or sub-unit. The awarding of the Honour Title ‘Coral’ to 102 Field Battery is the first Honour Title to be awarded to any Australian sub-unit.
2. 102 Field Battery is awarded the Honour Title ‘Coral’ as a result of their direct engagement with North Vietnamese Army (NVA) during the battle of Coral on the night 12/13 May 1968. The battle of Coral occurred during Operation Thoan Thang (Complete Victory) which involved 70,000 troops and was launched in early April 1968 with the objectives of eliminating the enemy formations involved in the Tet Offensive and preventing a second offensive against Saigon and the US base at Long Binh. The Australian Government offered the 1st Australian Task Force.
3. On 12 May 1968, the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment and 161 (New Zealand) Field Battery were deployed by air into Fire Support Patrol Base (FSPB) CORAL, followed by the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment and 102 Field Battery. At 2.15 am on 13 May 68 a barrage of mortars and rockets came into the CORAL position quickly followed, from the North, by a NVA regiment (about one thousand men).
4. During the battle, one of the battery guns was overrun as soldiers from 102 Field Battery engaged in close quarter fighting with the enemy. The overrun gun was subsequently recaptured and the enemy was forced to withdraw having suffered heavy casualties. Incredibly the Battery was able to engage the enemy with direct fire while at the same time providing indirect fire support as it was called in.
5. Subsequent attacks on the FSPB Coral were repelled and these engagements and those at FSPB Balmoral combined to deny the enemy an attack corridor to Saigon and Bien Hoa.
by Ministerial and Executive Coordination and Communication,
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