The Australian War Memorial: Acknowledge the existence of the 2nd D&E Platoon from the Vietnam War.
This petition had 168 supporters
A nation's military history should never be compromised to protect the reputations of senior officers who may have acted in contravention of accepted rules of warfare. Yet- in May/ June 1969 an ad hoc platoon of Australian infantrymen was created by Major George Pratt of HQ Company (and given the title of '2nd D&E Platoon' by Pratt) specifically tasked with engaging a very large force of Viet Cong soldiers congregating in the Xuyen Moc region of Phuoc Tuy Province. On May 29th, the 2nd D&E Platoon- led by Cpl James B. Riddle ambushed that force in conjunction with a Troop of armour under the command of Capt Tom Arrowsmith. It was a most successful ambush. The next day, the combined force was ambushed itself- en route to Xuyen Moc carrying a number of dead enemy soldiers (from the earlier ambush) strapped to the backs of the APCs for 'propoganda purposes'- as requested by the District Chief of the local friendly force, and approved by the Australian Task Force. Again, it routed the Viet Cong- and again, did so without casualties of its own. After these events, the platoon was disbanded, and the armoured corps unit was replaced. All trace of the '2nd D&E Platoon' was then erased from the record books; and all the service records of the men who served in it were altered so as to show that they never served in any such platoon. After a long battle, the Australian government formally recognised that the 2nd D^E Platoon had existed and "was forever to be enshrined" in the nation's military history. However, because it had never been properly promulgated as the '2nd D&E Platoon' and placed on the Order of Battle (ORBAT) at the time of its formation, the Australian War Memorial, and the national historian, Asley Ekins, steadfastly refuse to accept the govenment's decision- acknowledging only that an ad hoc platoon had existed and crediting the generic D&E Platoon (led by Lt Ray Woolan) with the successes of the 2nd D&E Platoon led by Cpl James Riddle. This matter was outlined in my memoir, The War Within (Amazon Books) and was the subject of a 7.30 Report by Lisa Whitehead- 'Ghost Platoon' in July 2008..
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