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Australian Soldiers on Patrol in Vietnam

Video clip synopsis – What does it feel like to be a soldier at war? Tense young Australian soldiers creep through the Vietnamese jungle, ever on the alert for the Viet Cong.
Year of production - 1966
Duration - 1min 22sec
Tags - conscription, propaganda, reporting, Vietnam War, see all tags


Australian Soldiers on Patrol in Vietnam

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About the Video Clip


Australian Soldiers On Patrol in Vietnam is an excerpt from the film Action in Vietnam (27 mins), produced in 1966.

In making this film about the Vietnam War, the Australian Commonwealth Film Unit did not look for battles and heroes. This was to be the story of the young Australians who were carrying on the standards of service begun by their grandfathers during the First World War. The emphasis was on people, both Australian and Vietnamese. The intention was to show what war really feels like.

Action in Vietnam was produced by the Commonwealth Film Unit for the Department of the Army.

Curriculum Focus


This Digital Resource can be used to achieve the following outcomes:
P.2 A student identifies and describes relationships among texts.
P.5 A student describes the ways different technologies and media of production affect the language and structure of particular texts.
P.6 A student engages with a wide range of texts to develop a considered and informed personal response.
P.7 A student selects appropriate language forms and features, and structures of texts to explore and express ideas and values.
P.8 A student articulates and represents own ideas in critical, interpretive and imaginative texts.

This material is an extract. Teachers and students should consult the Board of Studies website for more information.

Background Information


In 1965 Liberal Prime Minister Robert Menzies announced that Australia would provide combat troops to the war in South Vietnam.

Australia had already sent military advisers to help train South Vietnamese forces, but now there would be over 1,000 *conscript and regular army soldiers sent there as a fighting force.

These troops initially served in an American-controlled sector north of the capital, Saigon, but in 1966 Australia increased its military forces and assumed control of its own area, in Phuoc Tuy province, east of Saigon.

Their role included patrolling, ambushing, protection of local villages and some aerial support for Allied troops.

Between 1965 and 1971 about 50,000 Australian servicemen and some nurses served in this conflict.

While initially public opinion supported Australia’s involvement, by the end of the commitment in 1971 public opinion was far more divided. Particular tension within society centred on the issue of conscription by ballot, where 20-year-old men were selected randomly to serve two years in the Army, with the possibility of being sent to Vietnam as combat or support troops.


To conscript: to call up, enlist recruits for compulsory military service.

Classroom Activities

    1. Before viewing the video clip, brainstorm for five minutes and write a list of your images of the Vietnam War, and Australian soldiers’ role in it.
    2. View the video clip and compare your images. Does the video clip support your images about the nature of Australian soldiers’ involvement in the war? If not, suggest reasons for this difference.
    3. What overall message about the soldiers and their experience does this video clip give?
  1. The term ‘propaganda’ is defined as biased opinions, principles etc published to persuade, change or reform.
    1. Analyse the way the filmmaker has constructed this video clip to convey their message. In point form comment on how the camera angles, sound effects, music, editing and the structure of the video clip help convey this message.
    2. Identify and list some aspects of a war experience not shown in this video clip and suggest reasons why that have not been included.
    3. Do you think that the video clip is an example of propaganda? Give reasons why or why not.
  2. There was some disagreement about whether Australia should be involved in the Vietnam War. Construct two different, 500-word voice-over scripts for this video clip — one to support that involvement, and one to oppose it.

Literacy Activity: Focus= Listening / Analysing

  1. How does the lack of dialogue in this clip add to or detract from the information being conveyed? (2 marks)
  2. Identify and describe the feelings of some of the men in the clip. (2 marks)
  3. What audience has this clip been produced for? (1 mark)

Extension – Read the poem ‘Bringing Them Home’ by Bruce Dawe
How does the poem reflect the subject matter of the clip?

Further Resources


Drama Feature
Norman Jewison (director), In Country, Warner Brothers, USA, 1989

Go to Australian Biography and select Bruce Dawe
Bruce Dawe, Sometimes Gladness: Collected Poems 1954–1987, Longman, 1997