Sunday, December 01, 2013

Kiwis Reluctant for Full Engagement Part III 1/2


Between 1964 and 1972, roughly 3,500 military personnel had been committed to the American War in Vietnam by the New Zealand leadership.  Once their strongest, and geographically closest ally, Australia had fully engaged, Wellfleet (the capitol of NZ) came under mounting pressure to contribute manpower and heavy weapons.

The first New Zealand combat unit consisted of a four gun artillery battery which shipped out to Vietnam on May 24, 1965. This along with 120 men. However, prior to that, in 1962 a civilian surgical team was sent by New Zealand. This team would operate at Qui Nhon in Binh Dinh province during the entire presence of that nation's involvement.  Eventually, in 1964 a non-combat group of Army engineers was sent. Their mission was in the way of reconstruction projects of roads and bridge-building. Once their work was completed they mustered out, a year later.

There was no stomach in the nation for a full and robust involvement in the American War in Vietnam by the government or by the public. 

"In our national interest? The potential adverse effect on the ANZUS* alliance of not supporting the United States (and Australia) in Vietnam was of paramount importance, but the decision to participate was in in with New Zealand's own national interests in countering Communism in South-east Asia and of sustaining a strategy of forward defence. A failure to make a token contribution to the Allied effort in Vietnam would have brought into question the basic assumption underlying New Zealand's post-war national security policies."a
The escalation of the war and continued pressure on New Zealand yielded further invovlement when -although minimal in relation to its allies-  Kiwis would finally send  two companies to Vietnam. The first company to be deployed was V Company which was deployed from West Malaysia in April 1967. This infantry battalion would later be followed by W Company in December of the same year.  Initially these companies would fall under the command of 2RAR but eventually would be integrated to form 2RAR/NZ(ANZAC) Battalion. Some NZ personnel would take positions of command. Each subsequent group, when relieved by the next, would take on the same character and protocol with New Zealand fully integrated into Australian battalions until both countries pulled out in 1972.

Banners representing W and V Companies of New Zealand and their eventual integration into the Aussie Battalions.

Soldiers from New Zealand fought with extraordinary courage and valor alongside their Aussie mates. 37 would be killed and 187 wounded. We remember them all with respect and sadness for their losses.

Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment

ATTRIBUTIONS: a- "The impact of ANZUS - NZ and the Vietnam War", URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 20-December-2012

*ANZUS: This is the Australia, New Zealand, US treaty which was signed in September 1951 joining the three nations together in their mutual agreement of combined forces against any hostile actions occurring in the Pacific Ocean area and, nowadays, to any attacks.

-next up...medical support from australia, new zealand, spain, and the philippines.

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