Military History

This Week in History | Week 22

By The Cove May 24, 2020

25 - 31 May


26 May 1915 | "A" Siege Battery formed in Victoria 

The battery departed Melbourne on 17 July 1915 and served on the Western Front. The battery along with the 2nd Siege Artillery Battery made up the 1st Siege Artillery Brigade. 1st Siege Artillery Battery was renamed the 54th Siege Artillery Battery on 28 September 1915. The battery was equipped first with four 8 inch howitzers and then 6 from July 1917. In March 1918 the battery was assigned to the Australian Corps Heavy Artillery and resumed its original title.

This was the only Australian Permanent Military Force unit to serve in the Australian Imperial Force.


26 May 1968 | First attack on Fire Support Base Balmoral

The Battle of Coral–Balmoral (12 May – 6 June 1968) was a series of actions fought during the Vietnam War. After the establishment of fire support base (FSB) Coral, it was decided to occupy another FSB in the area of operations (AO) in order to locate and destroy the North Vietnamese bases suspected to be in the area. On 24 May 1968, the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) occupied FSB 'Balmoral' which was 4.5 km north of FSB Coral. Learning from the occupation of FSB Coral, the area was first secured by two Companies in armoured personnel carriers (APC) before the rest of the Battalion were flown in.

On 26 May the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) focused their efforts on FSB Balmoral. At the time of the attack 3 RAR were supported by tanks. At 0345h the North Vietnamese began a heavy bombardment with mortar and rockets, accompanied by machine-gun and small-arms fire. Immediately following the barrage, Balmoral was subjected to a ground assault across the open ground from the north-east by a force of up to battalion strength. Two Centurion tanks had been sited directly on the main axis of assault, their machine-guns and canister rounds proved telling during the fighting. The main attack stalled as it reached the wire before being repelled with heavy casualties by the combined firepower of the infantry and tanks. Around 0500h the North Vietnamese finally broke contact and withdrew. In this engagment 3 RAR lost three dead and 14 wounded.


27 May 1965 | HMAS Sydney's first voyage to Vietnam

HMAS Sydney departs on her first voyage to Vietnam with 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment embarked. In her configuration as a Fast Troop Transport, the Sydney would become known as the 'Vung Tau Ferry'. She undertook numerous voyages to Vietnam between 1965-1972.


28 May 1968 | Second attack on Fire Support Base Balmoral

A second heavy assault on Fire Support Base Balmoral took place in the early hours of the morning. The attack was driven off by combined arms – infantry, armour, artillery and air support. Forty-two enemy bodies were found on the battlefield and seven prisoners were taken.

The successful defence of Balmoral and the high ratio of North Vietnamese killed had confirmed the decision to adopt an aggressive defence with strong static positions and forceful patrolling. The failed assault proved to be the final attempt to remove 1 Australian Task Force from the  AO and there were no further attacks by the North Vietnamese against either Coral or Balmoral.


29 May 1915 | Quinn's Post Attacked

Quinn's Post was named in memory of Captain Hugh Quinn, an Australian officer of the 15th Battalion. The respected Captain commanded the position but on the 29 May 1915, Quinn was killed in the battle when Turkish troops temporarily gained access the post. The officer was later buried in Shrapnel Valley Cemetery. Quinn's Post was handed back to the New Zealand Infantry in June 1915 but was subsequently occupied by the Australian Light Horse Brigade and the Australian 17th Battalion until heavy loses persuaded the Anzac forces to retreat to their ships in October that same year.


31 May 1902 | Boer War Ends

Boers surrender, ending the Second Boer War (11 October 1899 – 31 May 1902). Over 16,000 Australians served in South Africa, of whom nearly 600 died.




The Cove

The home of the Australian Profession of Arms.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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