Canister! On! Fire! Australian Tank Operations in Vietnam
War Books, 1st Armoured Regiment
The history of the 1st Armoured Regiment in South Vietnam from 1968 to 1971.
Canister! On! Fire! tells the remarkable, but little known story of Australian tanks in the Vietnam War. Based on twelve years of research, including personal letters and diaries, extensive searches of official records and numerous interviews, this book brings to life a previously unheralded aspect of the conflict. It is the story of a select group of soldiers, both regular and conscript, serving their country against all odds.
The 53-tonne Centurion tanks were not only involved in intense fighting in conjunction with infantry and artillery to capture enemy defences and defeat attacks, but also fought their own battles against enemy mines, ambushes, and an unforgiving terrain and climate.
This book takes the reader inside the tanks to share the experiences of their crews in action in the jungle. We see the gunner, trying to survive the heat inside the turret, while identifying designated targets; the operator trying to maintain communications, while keeping the guns loaded; the driver, trying to see his way forward, while keeping his head down; and the commander, trying to locate enemy positions, while directing his driver and giving fire orders to his gunner. The account also reveals how the mechanics overcame extraordinary challenges to maintain the twenty-year-old tanks, while the field engineers risked their lives protecting them against mines.
In 1968, the deployment of a squadron from 1st Armoured Regiment was controversial; their Centurions were considered totally unsuited to jungle warfare. Not only did the men and machines prove their worth, but they became an indispensable part of Australian combat operations. So much so, their subsequent withdrawal was equally as controversial as their deployment.
This exciting and enthralling narrative deserves to be read, not only as a military history, but also as a contemporary account of the resolute attitude of Australian soldiers often asked to do the impossible.
1st Armoured Regiment
, War Books