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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 3696

Mr GOSLING (Solomon) (13:44): This weekend we'll be observing the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Coral and Balmoral during the Vietnam War. On 12 May 1968 the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment, together with the 102nd Field Artillery Battery and other attachments, were deployed to Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral some 20 kilometres north of Bien Hoa city in southern Vietnam. They were deployed there to prevent North Vietnamese attacks on the cities of Bien Hoa and Saigon.

Around 2.40 am on 13 May the battle began with massive enemy assaults. It was a fierce close-quarter battle that lasted over two hours. As the sun rose in Australia on Mother's Day 1968, 11 Australian sons lay dead and 28 were wounded. As Coral and Balmoral veteran Ray Darragh said, so many mothers on both sides lost their sons that day.

These battles were fought through until 6 June, claiming the lives of 26 Anzacs and an estimated 300 North Vietnamese combatants. Recently the veterans of Coral and Balmoral learned that they were all to be honoured with a unit citation for bravery, 50 years after the battle began. This award highlights the fact that we can always do more to honour and take care of our veterans and current serving personnel.