New Zealand’s Vietnam War

A History of Combat, Commitment and Controversy.


New Zealand's Vietnam War Cover

New Zealand’s Vietnam War provides a comprehensive and authoritative account of New Zealand’s involvement in the Vietnam War, one that will remain the standard reference work on the subject for decades. Its publication will complete the programme of official war history production that began in 1945.

This work focuses on what New Zealand did in South Vietnam, as the reasons for this country’s involvement and opposition to it have already been covered in book form. It traces in detail the operations carried out by New Zealand forces in Vietnam and seeks to illuminate the experience of New Zealand soldiers fighting in a guerrilla war.

The command structure, logistic support and operational context of fighting within a primarily Australian framework are all covered. The book addresses controversial aspects such as friendly fire incidents, atrocity allegations and veterans’ grievances, including over Agent Orange.

Maori participation in V Force was substantial and its impact is assessed. Although the book is inevitably weighted towards the military, because the troops were the largest element of New Zealand’s effort in Vietnam, the efforts of civilians in South Vietnam are also covered in depth. The surgical team operated from 1963 until their evacuation from Qui Nhon just days before North Vietnamese columns entered the city. The efforts of courageous civilians like Sister Mary Laurence and of Red Cross volunteers to alleviate misery among refugees are described.

The book also covers the dramatic end of the New Zealand involvement in South Vietnam – with the surgical team and the New Zealand Embassy evacuated by RNZAF Bristol Freighters just before the communist victory. The war’s troubled aftermath is traversed, culminating in the Prime Minister’s apology to veterans in 2007.



Ian McGibbon is General Editor (War History) at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. He has numerous publications to his credit, including the two-volume official history of New Zealand’s involvement in the Korean War, New Zealand and the Second World War: The people, the battles and the legacy, and several studies of New Zealand defence policy. With John Crawford, he edited New Zealand’s Great War (Exisle 2007). Since 1981 he has been managing editor of New Zealand International Review, the journal of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs. He was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to historical research in 1997, and he lives in Wellington.



Preface 7
Abbreviations/Glossary 11
List of Maps 15

Part I: Early Involvement 1962–5
Introduction 18
1 Medical Assistance 36
2 Sappers Enter the Fray 50
3 The Growing Crisis 62

Part II: Military Operations 1965–6
4 A Combat Contribution 74
5 To Vietnam 86
6 The Operational Context 98
7 Into Action 112

Part III: A Phuoc Tuy Focus 1966–8
8 A New Framework 132
9 The Enemy Responds 145
10 Controversies and Calamities 162
11 An Expanding Commitment 174
12 An Infantry Presence 187
13 The Tet Offensive 200

Part IV: Aspects of Vietnam Service
14 Coalition Warfare 216
15 The Task Force Dimension 234
16 Base Wallahs, Diplomats and Others 250
17 Air Operations 261
18 The Combat Soldier’s World 276
19 The V Force Experience 295

Part V: Medical and Relief Operations 1965–72
20 An Expanded Medical Effort 314
21 Service in Binh Dinh 325
22 Medical Operations in Binh Dinh 334
23 Relief Efforts 349

Part VI: Military Operations 1968–71
24 From Tet to Mini-Tet 366
25 Return to Phuoc Tuy 385
26 Back to Bien Hoa 400
27 A Change of Emphasis 414
28 Improving Outlook 432
29 A Waning Effort 454

Part VII: Demise and Aftermath 1972–2008
30 The Training Effort 472
31 A Civilian Focus 488
32 The Fall of Saigon 502
33 Adjusting to Peace 519
34 Conclusion 537

1 Roll of Honour 547
2 Order of Battle 549
3 Diplomatic Representatives, Team Leaders and Senior Officers 551
4 Honours and Awards 556
5 Biographical Notes on Service Personnel 567
6 Statistical Breakdown of New Zealand Military Forces in
South Vietnam 588
7 Selected Directives 595

Notes 611
Bibliography 675
Index 685



Name: New Zealand’s Vietnam War

Editors: Ian McGibbon

eBook Price Australia: $19.99

eBook Price New Zealand: $19.99

ISBN: 978-0-908988-96-9
eISBN: 978-1-877568-53-4



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