The 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (5RAR), held a week of commemorative activities in early June marking 51 years since the Battle of Binh Ba – a three-day battle fought during the Vietnam War.
5RAR's Regimental Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer Class One Robert Munro, organised and coordinated the commemorations. He said Binh Ba week was an important time to pause and reflect on the battalion's achievements and sacrifices.
“This year we had the opportunity to participate in key activities that connect our past to the present and create a foundation for our future,” WO1 Munro said.
“It has been a privilege, as the Regimental Sergeant Major of the Tiger Battalion, to oversee such a significant week in our battalion’s calendar.”
A group of 5RAR soldiers and officers started the week by attending a ceremony at St Mary’s Star of the Sea Cathedral, where only a year ago the Queen’s and regimental colours were laid up.
This year Bishop Emeritus of Darwin, Bishop D Eugene Hurley, led a small service at the cathedral to mark the first anniversary of the laying up of the colours and to unveil two brass plaques, which provide key information about their respective colours.
Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Dirago said it was important to continually reaffirm the unit’s association with the community.
“Placing these plaques creates an opportunity for the Darwin community to remain connected to all of the men and women who have served under the battalion’s colours,” Lieutenant Colonel Dirago said.
This year we had the opportunity to participate in key activities that connect our past to the present and create a foundation for our future.
“Although the colours are no longer carried in battle, they constitute the symbol of the regiment's honour — a representation of its devotion to duty – held in the greatest esteem by the soldiers and officers.”
Activities continued with 5RAR officially enlisting Quintus Durga – the resident Bengal tiger at Crocodylus Park – as the battalion’s mascot.
Private Quintus Durga is the fifth tiger to hold the honoured position of unit mascot since the 1960s and assumes the honoured role following the sad passing of 17-year-old Quintus Rama in May 2019.
Lieutenant Colonel Dirago said the battalion appreciated Crocodylus Park allowing their tiger to join the Army and looked forward to helping with her care.
“Our ongoing relationship with this Darwin cultural institution is a great way for us to engage with the local community.”
At an educational presentation on June 11, Warrant Officer Class Two Mark Critchley provided an in-depth analysis of the Battle of Binh Ba, giving new appreciation and understanding of the significant historical event.
Lieutenant Taylor Mychael and Lieutenant Luke Ede-Jones then discussed the importance of operating in a combined arms environment and aligned the Battle of Binh Ba to current military doctrine.
5 RAR’s remembrance activities continued with a ceremony at the unit’s memorial wall the next day.
Chaplain Major Ricky Su led the ceremony with a laying of a wreath and readings by members of Delta Company whose forebears were directly involved in the success at Binh Ba in 1969.
It is a significant week for us and allows us to reflect on and learn from our history.
Their courage, initiative and adaptability in a combined arms environment was pivotal to victory in Phouc Tuy Province. Delta Company Section Commander Corporal Andrew Cullinger said it was an honour to commemorate the unit’s history.
“It is a significant week for us and allows us to reflect on and learn from our history,” Corporal Cullinger said.
“It’s also an opportunity to remember Private Wayne Edward Teeling who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Battle of Binh Ba.
Two armed reconnaissance helicopters of 1st Aviation Regiment conducted a flyover at the end of the service, demonstrating the combined arms relationship between the two units.
The unit ended the week recognising leadership and exceptional service with a promotions and awards event.
The Battle of Binh Ba took place from June 6-8 in 1969 in the village of Binh Ba, in Phouc Tuy Province against a large, well-armed communist force. It is one of the most notable actions by Australian soldiers during the Vietnam War.