Australian soldiers accused of committing atrocities during the Vietnam War. Such horrors include shooting innocent civilians, which have been referred to the Australian Federal Police.
The allegations, which include claims that Diggers dragged the bodies of headless Vietcong victims behind armored personnel carriers, have been sources of cover-up claims for over 40 years.
The AFP was finally asked to investigate the claims after fresh evidence was discovered in the National Archives by an author who was researching a book about the alleged incident in May of 1969. Frank Walker welcomed the investigation into the accusations that were raised in his book, Ghost Platoon.
“I hope they get to the truth,” he said. “Terrible things happen in war, and while I found nothing in my research to suggest this incident was a deliberate malicious attempt to kill civilians, it should be resolved one way or the other.
“The allegation that an Australian army unit fired on civilians, possibly killing a boy, has caused a bitter dispute inside the Vietnam veteran community. Some deny it happened, others argue there’s no point bringing it up so long after the war.
“However, I found military documents in the National Archives which state the unit did fire on civilians after the unit had been through a day of heavy fighting and conducting two ambushes on vastly superior enemy numbers.”
He stated that the documents also confirmed the troops and “blew up enemy bodies rather than bury them and dragged the bodies of enemy soldiers… into a Vietnamese village to serve as an example to the locals.”
A spokesperson for the AFP confirmed the Department of Defense had asked them to investigate the conduct that was in contravention of the Geneva Convention.
“It was determined that, given the length of time since the incident, it is unlikely that any relevant and admissible evidence will become available which would provide avenues for further investigation,” the spokesman said. “The AFP has now determined this matter finalized unless further information is identified to support the allegation.”
Don Tate, a Vietnam veteran and a member of the unit involved in the action in 1969, described the AFP decision to not proceed as “yet another cover-up”. Officials had tried to wipe this information from the record books for years. They even denied the platoon ever existed. Tate tells The Australian: “But I have got nine people who were there who are prepared to go on the record and state what really happened.”