Battle of Coral-Balmoral

09 May 2018

In a few days we will mark the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Coral-Balmoral. The conflict lasted almost four weeks. It began on 12 May 1968 when two Australian battalions were attacked by North Vietnamese forces withdrawing from Saigon. The loss of human life was heavy on both sides. Twenty-five Australians were killed during the battle and 99 were wounded.

For decades now veterans have lobbied for recognition of their efforts at that battle, including Benalla veterans Colin Bermingham and Ray Slater. Colin was one of a number of young Australian soldiers who served at that battle. During his deployment in Vietnam he was one of many men who was drenched with Agent Orange, and as a result he has battled a number of illnesses since, including prostate cancer. Ray Slater also fought in in that battle. He is sadly no longer with us, but his wife, June, has continued to campaign for his unit's recognition. Seymour's Ian Warren was a bombardier at the battle. He has been in Canberra this week to commemorate the 50th anniversary.

Last week the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal announced that, pending approval from the federal Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Darren Chester, Coral-Balmoral veterans will receive a Unit Citation for Gallantry, and I think that cannot come soon enough. I know Mrs Slater is thrilled with the tribunal's recommendation. She only wishes that her late husband was here to receive the good news about his service.

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