Harry Smith (Australian soldier)
|Harry Arthur Smith|
Smith receiving the Military Cross, 1967
|Born||25 July 1933 (age 81)
|Years of service||1952–1976|
|Commands held||D Coy, 6 RAR
1 Commando Company
Parachute Training School
|Awards||Star of Gallantry
Lieutenant Colonel Harry Arthur Smith SG MC (born 25 July 1933) is a former senior officer in the Australian Army, seeing service during the Malayan Emergency and the Vietnam War. He was Officer Commanding of D Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (D Coy, 6RAR) during the Battle of Long Tan on 18 August 1966.
After service as a National Serviceman, Smith joined the Australian Regular Army and graduated as Second Lieutenant from the Officer Cadet School, Portsea. He was subsequently posted to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment in 1955 and later served during the Malayan Emergency between 1955 and 1957.
Battle of Long Tan
From 8 June 1966 to 14 June 1967, Smith, then a major, was Officer Commanding D Coy, 6RAR. On 18 August, after heavy mortar shelling of the Australian base at Nui Dat the previous night, companies from 6RAR were sent out to locate the Vietnamese units involved. Smith led the 105 soldiers of D Coy and the 3 man NZ Artillery Party out on patrol, but at 3.15pm, while patrolling a rubber plantation at Long Tan that afternoon, they encountered a reinforced regiment-sized Vietnamese force (the Viet Cong 275th Regiment, supported by the North Vietnamese Army 806 Battalion and D440 and D445 Battalions) attempting to advance on the base. A monsoon struck at the same time, but Smith organised his forces to successfully hold off the assault, while coordinating support from Australian, New Zealand, and United States artillery units back at Nui Dat. D Coy was reinforced at 6.55pm by a B Company Platoon then A Company in APCs, the Vietnamese having started to withdraw. 18 Australians were killed and 24 wounded during the Battle of Long Tan, but under Smith's command, D Coy had fended off a numerically superior force, with at least 245 Vietnamese confirmed as killed, and another 300 believed wounded. 800 enemy killed or died from wounds were listed in records found in 1969. 9 Delta Company men were given gallantry awards, but many of these had been downgraded from the original nomination: Smith’s leadership of his men during the fierce fighting saw him recommended for the Distinguished Service Order, but he instead received the Military Cross.
Following service in Vietnam, Smith commanded 1 Commando Company at Georges Heights and was later posted as CO/CI of the first Army Parachute Training School. Smith left the Army in 1976 after a parachuting injury.
Upgrading of award
On 14 August 2008, after years of campaigning for better recognition of Long Tan veterans, Smith's Military Cross was upgraded to the Star of Gallantry (the Australian honours system replacement for the Commonwealth Distinguished Service Order). On the same day, two others who fought at Long Tan had their bravery awards upgraded to correspond to the original nominations. On 9 March 2011 at the Maryborough Military & Colonial Museum, Smith was presented with the Star of Gallantry by local MP Paul Neville. Many of the Long Tan veterans were in attendance for the ceremony. After the presentation, Ben Roberts-Smith VC, MG, spoke about his time in Afghanistan.
Honours and awards
|Star of Gallantry||Awarded 18 August 2008 for leadership and command whilst in command of Delta Company, 6 RAR,
during the Battle of Long Tan in 1966.
|Military Cross||Awarded for leadership and gallantry when commanding Delta Company, 6 RAR,
during the battle of LONG TAN on 18 August 1966.
|Australian Active Service Medal 1945–1975||With clasps for active service in Malaysia and Vietnam.|
|General Service Medal 1918–1962||For service in Malaysia.|
|Vietnam Medal||For service in South Vietnam.|
|Defence Force Service Medal||20–24 years service with the ADF|
|National Medal||15–24 years service with an eligible organisation.|
|Australian Defence Medal||For eligible service in the ADF.|
|Anniversary of National Service 1951–1972 Medal||For service in post-war National Service schemes.|
|National Order of Vietnam||Awarded by the Republic of Vietnam for his command at Long Tan|
|Vietnam Gallantry Cross (with Bronze Palm)||Awarded by the Republic of Vietnam for Command of D Coy 6 RAR at Long Tan, with Unit Citation.
Unit Commanders are entitled to Medal as well as Citation.
|Vietnam Campaign Medal||Awarded by the Republic of Vietnam for service in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.|
|Pingat Jasa Malaysia||Awarded by the king and government of Malaysia for service in Malaysia.|
|Infantry Combat Badge|
|US Presidential Unit Citation|
|GRVN Unit Citation|
|Australian Unit Citation for Gallantry|
|Parachute Jump Instructor badge|
|US Master Parachutist Badge|
- Star of Gallantry, 18 August 2008, Citation: For actions during the Vietnam War., itsanhonour.gov.au
- Battle of Long Tan: Video - Military Cross Presentation, Department of Veterans' Affairs, vietnam-war.commemoration.gov.au
- "Smith, Harry Arthur". Vietnam War Nominal Roll. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
- Smith, Harry. "Malayan Memories - Harry Smith 1955-57". Maryborough Military & Coloniel Museum. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
- MacDougall, A.K. (2002). Australians at War: A Pictoral History. Noble Park, VIC: The Five Mile Press. pp. 336–7.
- Dodd, Mark; Walters, Patrick (14 August 2008). "Long Tan veterans win medal battle". The Australian. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
- National Medal, 14 July 1977, itsanhonour.gov.au
- Biography, battleoflongtan.reddunefilms.com