ON A MISSION: Actor William McInnes with USQ’s Leonie Jones, James Miller and Daryl Sparkes.
ON A MISSION: Actor William McInnes with USQ’s Leonie Jones, James Miller and Daryl Sparkes. Contributed

Bringing key Vietnam battle into spotlight

THE efforts of Australian soldiers against enemy forces in the Battle of Fire Support Base Coral was a defining moment in the Vietnam War.

But ask the average person about it and most are likely to say they have never heard of it.

University of Southern Queensland Lecturer Leonie Jones has made it her mission to change that through a documentary that will be aired on the History Channel on Anzac Day.

Ms Jones said she felt obligated to make sure as many people as possible know about the three week battle, where 25 Australians lost their lives and another 99 were wounded.

"I wanted the story to be told to give a sense of closure to the soldiers because they have never been publicly acknowledged for their sacrifice," she said.

"There's a lot of focus on the Battle of Long Tan, but there were a lot of other battles that were fought in Vietnam by Australian soldiers and I'm happy the veterans have finally been able to find a voice and get their story out to the general public."

Ms Jones travelled across Australia and Vietnam to interview more than 150 veterans of the Battle of Fire Support Base Coral as part of her PhD research.

The documentary, which has been seven years in the making, chronicles the largely untold and unknown story of the biggest and most sustained battle fought by Australians in the war.

It also uncovers how insufficient reconnaissance and poor operational planning allowed the North Vietnamese to exploit the disorganised defence and penetrate the Australians' perimeter.

Acclaimed Australian actor William McInnes tells the important story, which includes actual footage, photos and artefacts from the battle, as well as interviews with survivors.

Mr McInnes spent a day at USQ Springfield's broadcast media centre to provide voice-over narration for the documentary.

"When you have the chance to be a part of something that is unlocking a part of Australian history and telling a great story, it's always a treat to be a part of," he said.

"The story reveals so much about the bravery of these soldiers and the amount of action they saw.

"I don't think people realise how important this battle was and while it was a unique battle it is definitely a story that needs to be told."

USQ Senior Lecturer Daryl Sparkes was integral in helping Ms Jones produce the film.



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