The author of this book Mentions in Despatches, David R Sabben is an Australian Vietnam War veteran and hero of the Battle of Long Tan. He was awarded the Medal for Gallantry (MG) and Mention in Dispatches (MID) for his action during the Battle of Long Tan. This is an impressive book which not only records the day to day operations of 12 Platoon 6 RAR First Tour but also the life and times of being an Australian soldier during the Vietnam war. Great reminisces about being at Nui Dat, Vung Tau. Would make an excellent presentation book.
A large book weighing 2 kg, includes 500+ images; 400+ Pages 30+ maps/diagrams and it is signed.
Dave writes of his book:
....in the years 2001-2004, I used those letters (home letters), and more importantly, the Intelligence
Reports, to assemble a picture of what the NVA and VC were doing in the province in the months
and weeks before the Battle of Long Tan. I was thereby able to paint an accurate picture of what led
up to the Battle, and I wrote a “factional” account of the Battle as it would have been seen by the
enemy. That book was published in 2005 (THROUGH ENEMY EYES, Allen & Unwin - ISBN-13
9781741145618 – ‘factional’ only because I had to create fictional characters for the enemy side,)
I took the resulting draft manuscript for Mentions in Despatches to the then-current Director of the Australian War Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson, asking his permission to use ten or twelve photographs from the
AWM’s collection to illustrate things which I could not illustrate otherwise. Dr Nelson borrowed
the draft manuscript for a few days to consider the request.
A few days later, he called:
“Dave. This book MUST be published! What do you need?”
“Ten or twelve AWM photographs to cover gaps in my image collection, please?”
“Forget ten or twelve, Dave – pick up to 250 of our images and do the job properly!”
What is now placed before you is a day-by-day account of an Infantry platoon in the first year
of the Australian Task Force at Nui Dat in Viet Nam. But the narrative is generally applicable to all
the Infantry platoons because we all shared the same workload. The illustrations are indicative of
the experiences of all platoons because we all shared the same conditions.
From the Book - 'Meet the Author' by the late Harry Smith SG MC
Dave Sabben was born in Suva, Fiji in 1945 and is a tall, handsome, and very intelligent and competent man. He came to Australia and spent time in boarding school. In 1965, when his marble for National Service did not roll out, he decided to volunteer for National Service and then applied to attend the 1965 First Course at Officer Training Unit, (OTU), Scheyville. He graduated as a second lieutenant in late 1965, and was posted to the 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment at Enoggera Queensland in January 1966. He joined my Delta Company as Platoon Commander 12 Platoon the day after his 21st Birthday…. At Long Tan in August 1966, Dave commanded his platoon with excellence and took a heavy toll on the attacking enemy forces of 275 VC Regiment, especially those trying to outflank us around 11 Platoon. His platoon, along with 10 Platoon, and the artillery support of 24 guns at Nui Dat, forced the enemy to withdraw before the APCs arrived, leaving behind 245 bodies, and carrying many others away. It was an outstanding victory for the Delta Company. Sadly, his OTU mate Gordon Sharp, who commanded 11 Platoon, was killed in the battle.
On return to Nui Dat Base, I was asked to recommend my officers and soldiers for gallantry awards and I cited Dave for a Military Cross (MC). But although not at the action, the Task Force and Battalion Commander decorated themselves, downgrading the awards, with Dave getting a lowly MID, not the appropriate awards for a gallant platoon action. My CO got the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) although in was not at the battle, with me being awarded a Military Cross. This was a start of a rort with awards and saw all battalion COs and ATF Commanders decorated with awards that should have gone to those who fought. Because of a thirty year secrecy period, I was unable to seek Awards justice until 1996 and then it took until 1998 to get Dave upgraded to Medal of Gallantry…