18 August 1966 – In Vietnam, Sydney entertainers Col Joye and the Joy Boys and 17 year old singer Little Pattie, toured the Australian Task Force area on an armoured personnel carrier before giving shows for troops. They stopped to watch an air strike on the foothills of a nearby mountain. Smoke rises as bombs pound Viet Cong positions.
The entertainment group arrived two days after the area had been mortared by the enemy. The entertainers are the third Government sponsored group to play for Australians in Vietnam.
Before the first show Col Joye stopped to talk with Sapper David Wagstaff of Bankstown, NSW and Sapper Roger Solomon of Brisbane. While walking through the area Private Robert Kinggee (repeat Kinggee) of Kiama, NSW, shows them a shrapnel damaged truck.
In the concert area the troops arrived by vehicle and on foot. They stood and sat in blazing heat for an hour to enjoy popular songs and music. Private Norman Henderson, of Barnsdale, Victoria and Private Laurie Scattini of Kalgoorlie, W.A. were two who brought their own seats with them.
Some of the troops who saw the show had just returned from Operation Holsworthy and had spent more than a week in the jungle chasing Viet Cong. Trooper Robert McMillian of Sydney and Trooper Jock McCormick, of Melbourne, enjoyed a front-view. During one number the soldiers clapped to the beat of a popular hit tune. The opportunity to take photographs was not missed. The show over, troops move off, back to their base areas.
Whilst the concert was underway during the afternoon of 18 August 1966, The Battle of Long Tan began some 5km’s away in the rubber plantation of Long Tan.
Initially only one battery of New Zealand Artillery (161 Bty) was called in support of D Coy, 6RAR at Long Tan, but as the NVA and VC escalated their attacks on D Coy, Capt Morrie Stanley RNZA attached to D Coy, called in additional artillery from 103 and 105 Field Batteries of Royal Australian Artillery and then began calling regimental fire missions of all batteries including a battery of US Army’s 2/35th Artillery Battalion, some 24 artillery guns in all. By this time the concert was abandoned not just due to the sound of the artillery but because most men knew something serious was happening and they would be needed at their posts.
It was decided to fly the entertainers back to Vung Tau, but before Col Joye could climb aboard the chopper, he was ‘kidnapped’ by a Sergeant, who drove him away to drink with Australian soldiers. A good scout, Col went more or less willingly.
Little Pattie being escorted to chopper for trip back to Vung TauLittle Pattie, looking back from the chopper as it threshed its way south, saw the continuous flash of artillery gun-muzzles, which she took for enemy explosions in the camp. No One explained these things to her, and she spent a worried night recalling the new, confusing and (as she understood it) dangerous situation at Nui Dat.