Harry Smith (Australian soldier)

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Harry Arthur Smith
B/W Photo of a gentleman pinning the Military Cross on Harry Smith in military uniform, 1967
Smith receiving the Military Cross, 1967
Born 25 July 1933 (1933-07-25) (age 83)
Hobart, Tasmania
Allegiance Australia
Service/branch Australian Army
Years of service 1952–1976
Rank Lieutenant Colonel
Service number 6776[1]
Commands held D Company, 6 RAR
1 Commando Company
Parachute Training School

Malayan Emergency
Vietnam War

Awards Star of Gallantry[2]
Military Cross[3]
Knight of the National Order of Vietnam
Gallantry Cross (Vietnam)

Lieutenant Colonel Harry Arthur Smith SG, MC (born 25 July 1933)[2][4] 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.

Early years[edit]

Smith was born in Hobart, Tasmania on 25 July 1933.[4]

Military career[edit]

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.[5]

Battle of Long Tan[edit]

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.[4][6][7]

Post-war service[edit]

Following service in Vietnam, Smith commanded 1 Commando Company at Georges Heights and was later posted as CO/CI of the first Parachute Training School.[8] Smith left the Army in 1976 after a parachuting injury.[9]

Upgrading of award[edit]

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[2] (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.[7] On 9 March 2011 at the Maryborough Military and 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.[10]

Honours and awards[edit]


Military Cross ribbon.png Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 ribbon.png General Service Medal 1918 BAR.svg Vietnam Medal ribbon.png

DFSM with Rosette.png National Medal (Australia) ribbon.png Australian Defence Medal (Australia) ribbon.png Anniversary of National Service Medal (Australia) ribbon.png

VPD National Order of Vietnam - Knight BAR.png Vietnam gallantry cross-w-palm-3d.svg Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon with 60- clasp.svg Pingat Jasa Malaysia ribbon.png

Ribbon Description Notes
Ribbon of the Star of Gallantry 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.[2]
Ribbon of the Military Cross Military Cross Awarded for leadership and gallantry when commanding Delta Company, 6 RAR,
during the battle of LONG TAN on 18 August 1966.[3]
Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 ribbon.png Australian Active Service Medal 1945–1975 With clasps for active service in Malaysia and Vietnam.
General Service Medal 1918 BAR.svg General Service Medal 1918–1962 For service in Malaysia.
Vietnam Medal ribbon.png Vietnam Medal For service in South Vietnam.
DFSM with Rosette.png Defence Force Service Medal 20–24 years service with the ADF
National Medal (Australia) ribbon.png National Medal 15–24 years service with an eligible organisation.[11]
Ribbon of the ADM Australian Defence Medal For eligible service in the ADF.
Anniversary of National Service Medal (Australia) ribbon.png Anniversary of National Service 1951–1972 Medal For service in post-war National Service schemes.
VPD National Order of Vietnam - Knight BAR.png National Order of Vietnam Awarded by the Republic of Vietnam for his command at Long Tan
Vietnam gallantry cross-w-palm-3d.svg 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 ribbon with 60- clasp.svg Vietnam Campaign Medal Awarded by the Republic of Vietnam for service in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
Pingat Jasa Malaysia ribbon.png 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


  1. ^ "Harry Arthur Smith – Honours and Awards". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 9 January 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d Star of Gallantry, 18 August 2008, Citation: For actions during the Vietnam War., itsanhonour.gov.au
  3. ^ a b Battle of Long Tan: Video – Military Cross Presentation, Department of Veterans' Affairs, vietnam-war.commemoration.gov.au
  4. ^ a b c "Smith, Harry Arthur". Vietnam War Nominal Roll. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  5. ^ Smith, Harry. "Malayan Memories – Harry Smith 1955–57" (PDF). Maryborough Military & Coloniel Museum. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  6. ^ MacDougall 2002, pp. 336–7.
  7. ^ a b Dodd, Mark; Walters, Patrick (14 August 2008). "Long Tan veterans win medal battle". The Australian. Retrieved 28 January 2012. 
  8. ^ Smith & McRae 2015, pp. 193–214.
  9. ^ Smith & McRae 2015, p. 231.
  10. ^ "Harry Smith". Author Detail. Big Sky Publishing. Retrieved 13 February 2016. 
  11. ^ National Medal, 14 July 1977, itsanhonour.gov.au


  • MacDougall, A.K. (2002). Australians at War: A Pictoral History. Noble Park, Victoria: The Five Mile Press. ISBN 9781865038650. 
  • Smith, Harry; McRae, Toni (2015). Long Tan: The Start of a Lifelong Battle. Newport, New South Wales: Big Sky Publishing. ISBN 9781922132321. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Biography, battleoflongtan.reddunefilms.com