Vietnam VeteransEducation Team Informing the Students of Victoria, Australia
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6RAR - HMAS Sydney.

Article written by Dr John Carroll. This very informative read by Dr John. Click Here to be taken to this document

Article by Laura Benny.

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Article by Lynda Carroll.

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Phuoc Tuy Province.

This article written by Dr John Carroll on Vung Tau Rung Sat Special Zone. Click here to be taken to the Document.

A Dangerous & Deadly


This article written by Dr John Carroll on a very important issue. Click here to be taken to the Document.
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RAN in Vietnam.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind; The Royal Australian Navy in Vietnam 1965-1972 (Second Edition). By Dr John R Carroll. Rosenberg Publishing, Dural 2019.
Reviewed by Dr Tim Coyle - Australian Naval Institute - 9th November 2019
The war in Vietnam is known as the ‘television war’ as nightly news telecasts carried graphic footage of combat operations by Australian and US troops for years in the 1960s and early 1970s. This exhaustive coverage fed community disquiet leading to mass ‘moratorium’ demonstrations by students and other community members while increasing numbers of Australian troops died in action or were returned wounded to Australia. What was not foreseen at the time of Australian withdrawal from the war in 1971 was the effect of what is now known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on veterans and the creeping cancers inflicted by Agent Orange defoliant.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind is devoted to the RAN ships and their companies engaged in logistic support to the Australian Army Task Forces in Vietnam. These comprised the former aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney, converted to a troop and logistic transport, and two Australian National Line merchant ships Boonaroo and Jeparit, the latter two commissioned as HMA Ships following refusal of Seamen’s Union members to man them, and the RAN destroyers and frigates which served as escorts for the transport voyages.
The author, John Carroll, served in HMAS Sydney as a shipwright and this book is based on his doctoral dissertation. Consequently, this is a book of record with extensive interviews with naval veterans and an exhaustive bibliography of primary and secondary sources.
Essentially Carroll defends the record of the RAN logistics effort to Vietnam, pointing out the perceived paucity of credit given to this essential operation without which Australia could not deploy or sustain the army task force for the seven years of engagement in the field.
After highlighting the lack of mention in other histories of the RAN’s support, Carroll provides a comprehensive treatise on Australia’s almost contemporaneous involvement in the ‘konfrontasi’ with Indonesia over Malaysia in the early years of Vietnam and discusses Australia’s forward defence policies. This is a creditable narrative of how Australia came to be involved in Vietnam. Carroll then discusses the arrangements and operational aspects of the 25 return voyages undertaken by HMAS Sydney, and escorting warships, and activities in the war zone discharging and loading troops and equipment. 
Carroll emphasises the wartime conditions in which Sydney and escorts operated. Intelligence assessed possible subsurface and surface threats from Indonesian, Chinese or Russian forces and so escorts maintained anti-submarine and surface threat readiness en-route and Sydney itself undertook force protection measures at anchor in Vietnam.
The incidences of cancer, especially prostate cancer, among RAN members and the scientific evidence that this was attributed to their consumption of fresh water distilled from estuarine waters of Vietnam is covered in a chapter on herbicide exposure. This highly detailed chapter also discusses the long-running disputes between veterans, scientists and the Australian Government regarding Agent Orange use in Vietnam.
The human side of service in HMAS Sydney is illustrated in the chapter In Their Own Words in which veterans describe the austere habitability conditions on the ship. Sydney was a British ship built at the end of World War 2 with little thought to operations in the tropics and the severe and continuous discomfort experienced by all on board is candidly told.
Out of Sight Out of Mind concludes with discussion of the long struggle veterans endured to secure some recognition for their service. While the ships’ companies of the RAN Charles F Adams class guided missile destroyers deservedly received veterans’ benefits for their service providing naval gunfire support this was not the case for Sydney and escorts. The Government considered they were not engaged in war service despite their essential support to the Australian Army Task Force and the assessed threat on passage and when anchored in Vietnamese waters. 
The book is illustrated with many photographs of the ships and on-board activity together with maps and an extensive appendix detailing the various ships’ characteristics. In summary this book provides a balanced and important contribution to the historiography of Australian participation in the Vietnam war, particularly by detailing the hardships and dangers faced by the ships’ companies engaged in logistic support to the Australian Army Task Force
Dr John Carroll's - Out of Sight Out of Mind.
Cost via the publisher $34.95 plus postage. Cost via the HMAS Sydney Assoc. $41-70 which includes Express Post packaging in a padded bag.
If you would like to get a copy please contact David Dwyer on the HMAS Sydney Association (Inc. Vic.) website. Payment can be made via Bendigo Bank EFT, CHQ or M/O. Please forward all orders to and he will have a copy in the mail the same day. Phone orders: (03) 9720 8183 (best after 1930) Postal orders: HMAS SYDNEY ASSOCIATION (Inc. Vic) PO BOX 645 HEATHMONT VIC 3135
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BOOK REVIEW - Reviewed by Kevin Rickard OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND: The Royal Australian Navy in Vietnam 1965-1972 – Second Edition by John R Carroll. First published in 2013 this second edition has been revised with new material added. This folio sized softcover volume of 258 pages with illustrations and photographs was published by Rosenberg, Sydney in January 2020 at a RRP of $34.95. During the Vietnam war the task of moving, supplying and maintaining the Australian Force in Vietnam was crucial. THE RAN played the major role and did the heavy lifting for these logistic tasks. The principal effort was undertaken by the fast troop transport and former aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney. Sydney was always escorted in Vietnamese waters by a RAN destroyer or frigate from the Far East Strategic Reserve. Captain A J Robertson DSC, later Rear Admiral, quoting from the commanding officer’s letter to his Flag Officer (FOCAF) noted “from 1965 until March 1972 HMAS Sydney completed 24 voyages to the operational area, transporting troops and large quantities of important equipment. 15,619 troops were carried, 8,129 taken to South Vietnam and 7,490 brought back to Australia. 2,301 vehicles were carried, 1,523 on the forward journey and 778 on the return. Short tonnage cargo totalled 5,561 with 4,289 for South Vietnam and 1,272 returned. Whilst in Vietnamese waters, she was subject to the same threat as other Fleet units, particularly rocket or swimmer attacks in Vung Tau harbour”. There is no doubt that HMAS Sydney was the logistical lynchpin for the Australian military effort in Vietnam. Sydney was assisted in the sealift requirement by MV, later HMAS Japarit and MV, later HMAS Boonaroo. Complement details of Sydney during each of her voyages to Vietnam are tabulated as well as anchorage details of the ship and her escorts. Security precautions whilst in Vung Tau are presented. There is a chapter with candid comments from the author’s shipmates as well as embarked troops. Dr Carroll, in his well-written and superbly researched book offers evidence based arguments regarding the critical role of the RAN. Furthermore, he presents compelling evidence that RAN personnel in Sydney were affected by the runoff from the liberal use of the toxic Agent Orange and its active and toxic by-product “Dioxin”. He further addresses the inequity suffered by RAN persons towards provision of medical care under the repatriation system. There was also inequity for awards under the Honours and Awards system particularly in respect to the Vietnam Active Service Medal. All this revolved around the interpretation of the word ‘allotted’. Soldiers were eligible for the above benefits because they had been allotted a role with their battalion whilst in Vietnam. Seamen on the other hand were not allotted a role but were among the ship’s company which did not necessarily set foot on Vietnamese soil. Hence the discrimination or inequity. From January 1962 herbicides were used by the US and Allied forces to strip the thick jungle canopy which helped conceal the enemy. Crops would also be damaged. HMAS Sydney and her escorts were often at anchor in Vung Tau harbour in waters now known to be contaminated with herbicide residue. By the time Sydney and the first army contingent arrived at Vung Tau in June 1965 the Rung Sat Special Zone (RSSZ)had been sprayed by the USAF since September 1962. In 1997 the Department of Veterans’ Affairs reported that RAN veterans were experiencing a far higher mortality rate than other Australian Vietnam veterans, particularly RAN logistic support personnel. This was further supported by the 2001 Vietnam Veterans Cohort Study where it was noted that sailors from Sydney and her escorts as well as those from Jeparit and Boonaroo were dying at a rate which was higher than the national average. Carroll provides a chapter on Herbicide Exposure. This chapter argues a likely link between the mortality rate of RAN logistic support personnel exposed to the evaporative distillation used in RAN ships while in Vietnamese waters which was enhanced by the effects of Agent Orange. The author also addresses the issues and responsibilities of Government agencies in regard to the singularly crucial use of the word ‘allotted’. CDRE John Goble stated “no one allotted the RAN elements. There is no doubt that all servicemen were at risk by being in an operational area”. The substance of the book was the basis for Dr John Carroll’s PhD thesis as such it is of an extremely high standard. There is a forward by VADM I W Knox AC previously Vice Chief of Defence Force who commends the work for those interested in maritime affairs and logistical support of Australian forces in Vietnam. The book will long stand as a key reference point to the RAN contribution in Vietnam and, as such, will not be Out of Sight nor Out of Mind . Reviewed by Kevin Rickard
2nd Book Review
Dr John Carroll's - Out of Sight Out of Mind.
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