Commonwealth Special Forces In Vietnam
The Australian SAS Regiment " The Jungle Ghosts " arrived in South Vietnam on the 15th June 1966. Three fighting Squadrons served in rotation in the Phouc Tuy Province 70 kilometers south east of Saigon. On the 26 June 3 Squadron commenced operations from its base at Nui Dat. Their role was intelligence gathering and recon. Specifically, they were to find the whereabouts, movements and habits of the two main force enemy units in Phuoc Tuy province. Members of the Squadrons had already been in Vietnam since 1962 as advisers. The Squadrons performance won great praise from their American allies as they carried out deep reconnaissance and ambush patrols. In Vietnam the Australian SAS developed new tactics for Helicopter insertion and extraction. The SAS patrols had such an impact on the VC that one report stated that the VC had placed a bounty of $US5,000 dead or alive on the head of each 'Ma Rung' - Phantoms of the Jungle.
On 18th of January 1967 a Australian SAS patrol became engaged in fire fight with a large enemy group and one SAS patrol member was wounded. The patrol was extracted under fire. The injured soldier was returned to Australia for treatment, but due to complications he died. He was the first SAS and only Australian SAS to die from enemy action.
1 Squadron, SAS departed Vietnam on the 16th of February 1968. They were replaced by 2 Squadron. During their tour 1 Squadron mounted 246 patrols, killed 83 VC and sighted 405 enemy. Their own casualties were one died of wounds (DOW) and one wounded (WIA). On the 21st of February 1969, 3 Squadron SAS arrived to replace 2 Squadron SAS who had completed their first tour. During their tour the 2 Squadron accounted for 151 VC with a further 22 possibles. 3 Squadron SAS completed their on the 18th of January. They were replaced by 2 Squadron SAS. During their tour 3 Squadron had mounted 230 operations with 78 contacts resulting in 144 enemy KIA plus 32 possibles. The Squadrons withdrew from South Vietnam in 1972. Many of the men who had served in Vietnam went on to become instructors at the SAS Jungle warfare school in Malaya.
The New Zealand SAS was formed in 1954. The Squadron had been formed to operate alongside British and Rhodesian SAS Squadrons in fighting Communist Terrorists during the Malayan Emergency. In November 1968 , 4 Troops of the New Zealand SAS Squadron were deployed to South Vietnam under the operational control of an Australian SAS Squadron at Nui Dat. The total strength of this deployment was 1 officer and 25 men. The New Zealanders provided five man patrols for long range reconnaissance and ambush missions. Each troop member served twelve months in Vietnam until the Squadron withdrew from South Vietnam in February of 1971. One member of the Squadron is listed as being killed in action during the deployment.
There is no official information about any members of the British SAS having served in Vietnam. At the height of the Vietnam war the British SAS were heavily committed in Borneo, Aden and the Radfan. However British SAS instructors are regularly sent on attachment to both Australian and New Zealand SAS Squadrons. It is generally thought that a few British SAS personnel attached to the Australian and New Zealand SAS while they were deployed in Vietnam under the official title of instructor. After the war 70 British General Service Medals were issued with the Bar South Vietnam 1962-64. No Names or units are mentioned.