D Coy Christmas Dinner Vietnam 1966
D Coy Christmas
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Here is some great film of Delta Company, 6RAR celebrating Christmas at Nui Dat, South Vietnam on Boxing Day, 26 December 1966, just four months after the Battle of Long Tan. You will definitely recognise some faces like Officer Commanding, D Coy, Lt Col Harry Smith MC SG (ret) who was a Major at the time, CSM WO2 Jack Kirby, 2LT Dave Sabben, along with many others.

Christmas Day for Australian soldiers in Vietnam was the quietest since their arrival at Nui Dat, the rubber plantation home of the 1st Australian Task Force. And for a majority of the men, it was the best day. The artillery was quiet and for just a little while the men had a chance to forget the war.

Typical of the way in which the day was celebrated was the Christmas Dinner in the mess of “D” Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. The men ate like kings, with a menu of turkey, ham, fresh vegetables, fruit and cream, nuts and Christmas cake. Only the cooks were at work, and according to the men, they did a great job.

In the Army tradition, Diggers were waited on during Christmas Dinner by their officers and senior N.C.O’s. As usual, the custom invoked many good-hearted jibes. Earlier in the day, the men had been served mugs of hot coffee, laced with rum, by the officers. This is another Christmas tradition in the Army.

But without a doubt, the highlight of the day was the Dinner. Here Sergeant Bill O’Donnell, of Grovelly, Brisbane, carves slices of ham and turkey for the hungry men. After dinner the soldiers moved to their canteen for a few drinks.

Doubtless, most of the men would have preferred to spend the day back home in Australia with their familes, but even so, they had a good time, because they knew that soon it would be over – they would return to the rigours of war.

[Notes from the TV journalist, William James Cunneed who shot this film: The boys are obviously a little drunk. This was the pattern of Christmas celebrations at 1 ATF. I decided to shoot, as I had nothing to file on Christmas day with 6 RAR. Covering Senator McKellar ruined the day. By the time I got back to 6 RAR all serving by Col Townsend/Offrs/WO/NCOs had finished. Delta Coy had its Christmas day on boxing day.]



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