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Tuesday, 22 April 1969

(Statement by the Minister for the Army, Dr the Hon. A. J. Forbes.)

The death of Corporal Bowtell in Viet Nam was not due to the use of tear gas, the Minister for the Army, Dr A. J. Forbes, said today.

The soldier died in the course of an operation involving the clearance of a complex of Viet Cong tunnels in the Ben Cat area.

Smoke grenades and the subsequent use of high explosive grenades exhaust the limited amount of oxygen in deep tunnels and create fumes in these restricted spaces.

Corpora] Robert Waller Bowtell, 33, married, of Casula, N.S.W., died as a result of these conditions, which under certain circumstances can produce lethal concentrations of carbon monoxide.

Further inquiries are being made as to the exact circumstance but it was emphasised that Corporal Bowtell's death was not due to tear gas, which could not have lethal effects as used in Viet Nam.

Tear gas is used in this type of operation to avoid needless casualties, especially among women and children. (Lists; Gallery Only)

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