Travis Fimmel as Major Harry Smith in a scene from the movie Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan.
Travis Fimmel as Major Harry Smith in a scene from the movie Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan. Supplied

Bravery at Battle of Long Tan remembered on silver screen

FOR the decorated veteran who fought alongside his troops, seeing the depiction of the Battle of Long Tan on the silver screen was like travelling back in time.

It has been more than 50 years since the battle took place, but Delta's Company Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Harry Smith, who lived in Hervey Bay before moving to the Sunshine Coast, remembers it clearly, particularly the courage of the men who fought under him.

Lt Col Smith sat down to watch the movie recreating the conflict, Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan, on Sunday and he was impressed by what he saw.

"It's a pretty good representation of what happened on the day," he said.

"A few things have been changed and dramatised, but the movie overall will tell the public about the bravery and gallantry of the young soldiers."

Lieutenant Colonel Harry Smith was presented the Military Cross in 1967 after leading D Company, 6RAR, in the Battle of Long Tan, South Vietnam, August 18, 1966.
Lieutenant Colonel Harry Smith was presented the Military Cross in 1967 after leading D Company, 6RAR, in the Battle of Long Tan, South Vietnam, August 18, 1966. Molly Glassey

Lt Col Smith said the Vietnam War was often a neglected conflict when it came to telling the sometimes harrowing stories on the big screen.

But he's hoping the film will address that and make the Australian public more aware of the sacrifices made during the Battle of Long Tan.

"I think the movie will illustrate to the public just what went on in Vietnam."

Harry Smith and Travis Fimmel in the Paulowena plantation at Kingaroy.
Harry Smith and Travis Fimmel in the Paulowena plantation at Kingaroy. Contributed

Lt Col Smith himself is depicted during the movie, in a role played by Travis Fimmel.

He was impressed by the work the actor did on the film.

The Battle of Long Tan is the stuff of legend.

The Aussie soldiers were outnumbered 20 to one when they were attacked by enemy forces on August 18, 1966.

After hours of intense fighting, 18 Australians had been killed, but 100 soldiers had managed to hold off about 2000 troops from the Vietnamese forces.

Major Harry Smith played by Travis Fimmel, during the filming of the new Australian movie, Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan, which opens in cinemas in August.
Major Harry Smith played by Travis Fimmel, during the filming of the new Australian movie, Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan, which opens in cinemas in August.

The Battle of Long Tan was the costliest battle for Australia during the entire Vietnam War, but despite that Lt Col Smith said he didn't find it difficult to watch the film and recall memories of that day.

"It was quite well done," he said.

"To go back 50 years in time to see what happened that day, I was most impressed with the way it graphically showed what was going on in battle.

"It made me feel even more proud of my soldiers."

The movie will be released Australia-wide on August 8.



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