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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, 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


Historical Knowledge and understanding
At Level 6, students analyse events which contributed to Australia’s social, political and cultural development. These events could include: Vietnam War. Students analyse the impact of some key wars in the twentieth century. They explain their influence on people’s lives, national events and international relations.

Historical reasoning and interpretation
At Level 6 students locate relevant resources, including online resources. They identify, comprehend and evaluate a range of primary and secondary sources. They critically evaluate sources of evidence for context, information, reliability, completeness, objectivity and bias.

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority 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. What is your image of the Vietnam War, and Australian soldiers’ role in it? Brainstorm to record these ideas.
    2. Look at this video clip. Does it support your image or expectation about the nature of Australian soldiers’ involvement in the war? If not, suggest reasons for this difference.
    1. What overall image of the soldiers and their experience does this video clip give?
    2. Look at the way the report has been constructed to create this image or impression. Consider the camera angles, sound effects, music, editing and the structure. Is it a realistic representation, or one that has been heavily edited and constructed?
    3. What key aspects of a war experience are not shown in this video clip? Suggest reasons why. Do these omissions influence your reaction to the clip or its ‘messages’ to you? Explain your reasons.
  1. Imagine that this piece of film is the only evidence you have of a soldier’s experience of the war. What would it tell you or suggest to you about the experience? To gain a fuller understanding, list and then locate sources that would be good ones with which to compare this clip.

Further Resources


Robert Lewis, Voices of Vietnam: Investigating Images & Experiences of Australia’s Involvement in the Vietnam War, HTAV, Australia, 1996.