Recent Events and Current & Upcoming Projects
A conversational over-view of the things that have recently happened
and that I am or would like to be involved with.
(Last updated 1 May 2018 - new stuff in YELLOW)

q Books
- The Battle of Long Tan
- Through Enemy Eyes

q
 Battlefield Tours
- VN Long Tan Trek Tours
- VN Decisive Battles Tours
- Europe Battlefield Tours
- History of Long Tan Cross

q Site
- Home Page
- About Dave
- Feedback/Contact Dave

q Other
- In the pipeline...
    (current projects)
- Related Sites

 

 

 

 

 


Bunfight at the Long Tan cross
on the 50th Anniversary,
18 August 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Latest talk:

15 Nov 2016:
A talk for the
Melbourne Shrine
Annual Dinner

 

 

 


Current Projects


Writing Projects - Current (Nov 2016):
Yes - I'm still writing between other events... but all my writings have taken second (or third) place behind a heavy schedule of talks and events and commemorations. That lasted until end 2017 and have now reduced to very few forward bookings, which has been planned.
I still have two "faction" novels sitting on the shelf - no publisher I have approached to publish them wants to touch them.  I think it's because they both touch the AFP and other "sensitive" government departments and the publishers are scared to handle these matters.  It seems the publishing "push" is female writers and "women's books" - historical romances and similar.
Starting this year (2018) I have put the transcription of all
my letters from Vietnam home to my (then) wife, Sue.  I have assembled what photos I can but have gone to mates and the web to get other photos which either I could not get or are indicative of what I experienced.
In my time in Vietnam, we lived mostly in the front lines and in the bush - the best we did was leaky canvas tents on floorboards a few inches above the (usually wet) earth.  So everything was moist and got mildew.  We had no fancy cameras until the tour was half over so missed out on photos of people and places.  And, of course, no cameras in the bush.

So, many if not most of the pix are from the AWM or the web.  Copyright will be an issue if ever published but at the moment I'm just putting it together for family and the odd interested historian.  It currently stands at about 500 A4 pages, at about 50% pictures.
 

Tours to Viet Nam:
As per each October since 2009, Di (wife) and I have taken a group to Vietnam to visit the Australian area of operations and specifically, to walk the Long Tan battlefield.  The 2012 Trek Tour was the largest yet - at our limit of 36 persons.  As before, we also took a lesser-numbered group of the same people on an extension tour into the North to include the DMZ, Khe Sanh, Hue, Da Nang, Hanoi, Dien Bien Phu and Ha Long Bay.

The October 2013 Tour went with 14 guests - mostly Vets and many ex-officers.  A smaller-than-usual group but as boisterous as any other group we've taken!  And the December 2013 Cadet Tour

The October 2014 Tours to both South and North went well - but events have conspired to not permit me to complete the 2014 Tour Report... until now:  The 2014 Tour Report is now available for viewing at:
http://www.sabben.com/longtantrek/VN%20Long%20Tan%20Trek%20Report%202014.html

The planned October 2015 tour was called off when several of those interested pulled out in favour of going to Gallipoli or the Western Front for the 100th Anniversary events there.

However, to compensate, we put together a Long Tan Trek Tour for August 2016 - the 50th anniversary of the battle.  It was opened to bookings late in 2015 and was fully subscribed by Feb 2016.  62 passengers!  Two buses!

The Tour left Oz on Monday 15 Aug and was at long Tan on the 17th, 18th and 19th Aug for the 50th Anniversary commemorations.  Unfortunately, the events were first restricted and then cancelled for the day.  Our Tour group got to be at the Long Tan cross on the 19th.  There's a mini-report written about the events and activities the Trek Tour faced at the time - please click on the "BUNFIGHT" report at left (7 pages).

Assured that the 2016 disruptions would not be repeated, there is a 2017 Trek Tour arranged, but back to October (depart Oz on the 14th) as has been usual for previous tours due to weather in VN and school holiday dates in Oz.

The Tour details are on web page:
http://www.sabben.com/longtantrek/VN%20Long%20Tan%20Trek%20Tour%202017.html
In the event, we failed to get enough people interested in the Trek Tour for Oct 2017, so it didn't go.  We were told by many that the 2016 cancellations were the cause for concerns about future visiting.

It took almost as long to produce the 2016 (50th Anniversary) Tour Report - at least for the South.  But it was done and is available at:
http://www.sabben.com/longtantrek/VN%20Long%20Tan%20Trek%20Report%202016.html

The North Tour Report is s-t-i-l-l coming...

We have arranged for yet another Long Tan Trek Tour for Oct 2018, followed by an extension Tour north.  Details are at:
http://www.sabben.com/longtantrek/VN%20Long%20Tan%20Trek%20Tour%202018.html

It is looking like this will be our last Trek Tour - age, health and conditions in VN are suggesting that this be the case.  If interested, please view the details on the web page or ring Di Sabben on (03) 9787 8888 or mobile 0412 278 888 or email her on disabben@ozemail.com.au for any details you'd like to know.
If you can't download the Flyer or itineraries from the internet, she can post them out to you.  You might also care to assist us by printing out the Flyer and distributing it to your clubs, workmates, friends, neighbours, rellies... ... ...

Long Tan Awards:
The long-running issue of the downgraded Long Tan awards has now been mostly resolved.  Harry Smith still has a number of rejected MID recommendations awaiting review by the Honours  Awards Tribunal.  I'll bring updates as they become available.

Not forgotten - the Tribunal looking into the last remaining Long Tan awards sat on the Sunshine Coast in Feb/Mar 2016.  As I write they are currently in deliberation.  I will update this as advised.
Please note that, contrary to some news reports, we are NOT looking for additional awards or recognition.  We're looking for the restoration of awards recommended at the time (Aug 1966) but denied by an unfair awards quota system.  The matter of an upgrade of Jack Kirby's award of DCM to a VC is a separate submission.

The Tribunal finally accepted the validity of all the awards recommended a few days after the battle of Long Tan.  The separate issue of the requested VC for Jack Kirby was not approved.  The investiture of these last awards took place at Government House, Canberra, on Tuesday 8 Nov 2016.  The Governor-General, General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) invested these final Long Tan award recipients and that will, we expect, close the book on this long-running saga.

I will make no more reports on the Long Tan honours.  It's been a dismal episode and reflects no credit on the original authorities involved.

Proposed film of the Battle of Long Tan:
There has been little real progress on the proposed Long Tan film.  All I can suggest is that you go to the website of Producer Martin Walsh of Red Dune Films for any updates as they happen.

Martin's actions and timeframes may be specified on his website when known -  http://www.dangerclosemovie.com

As at the end of 2017 the Long Tan film project began to regenerate.  The Producer, Martin Walsh, completed a new round of investment-seeking and obtained a grant from the Qld State government which, we understand, built his film budget to some $20million Aust.

Since then there has been a new "push" for the film with main cast, crew and locations selected and published.  Details are available on the film's website (above).

Unfortunately, all the feedback provided from the Commanders of the battle to the film project about their script shared with us in 2014 appear to have come to very little change.  There were a number of key historical events which were misrepresented in the script and we felt the script did not reflect a credible image of the Army, the conflict, the conditions or of Delta Company 6RAR.  We (unanimously - all seven of us) advised the production company that we could not support the film project if it reflected so poorly upon the facts and conditions of the incident.

We suggested some of the changes we would need to see in order to support the film but have (as at 1 May 2018) not been advised of changes nor have we been permitted to read the final ("shooting") script.  We understand the film is proceeding into pre-production and into filming in April/May/June of 2018 in locations in Queensland.  The production team has apparently contracted other advisors and none of the Commanders has been contracted (at least yet) to assist on the film.

As a result, I, at least, no longer support the film project, on the basis that the latest  film script I have been permitted to read does NOT reflect the people, circumstances or historical aspects of the battle of Long Tan.

I would expect that this will be my last entry on the matter of the film.  It may turn out to be a great film - even the classic they hope for, but with the script they are apparently using, it will not tell a credible story of D/6 at war, of the key people in command and being commanded, of the support given to D/6 or of the history of the battle.  The result will therefore be a dramatised fictional story "based on fact" and, while possibly entertaining, will not be adequately educational.

I think that is a pity for such a huge effort to be wasted in this way.....
 

Another interesting project:
On the home page there is a link to a Powerpoint presentation on Long Tan which can be downloaded free.  It's made to work on the PC version of Powerpoint, 2003 or later, and on a Mac Powerpoint.  It's fairly large at 50 slides and each slide is animated.  No sound, though.

I developed it from the slides I used when I gave talks on Viet Nam and Long Tan.  It's being distributed free.  It should be of interest to school projects, military history buffs, serving military members and just for general interest.

I have had a great deal of good comment about this PPT presentation, including several kind deposits into the bank account shown on the last screen to assist with the costs of development.  One kind soul said "If you want an excellent view of this battle, you can't go past this PPT"

I have since put up all the other Powerpoint presentations I use and give on my Tours.  Yeah - it's giving away professional intellectual property, but I see it as for the good of those who want to learn.  I've also put up some of my talks and lectures on other topics, given at other functions and events.  Worth a browse if you have the time and interest - www.sabben.com - home page.

 

VetRide 2016:
One of the more interesting - and exhausting - projects recently undertaken was "VetRide" - Google it for more info.  It was essentially a bike ride in two parts.  For the Victorians, it was from Puckapunyal in Victoria to Canberra in the ACT - some 700Kms - over 7 days.  For the bike team from Qld, it was down the New England Highway - a longer distance over a longer time.  The two groups met in Yass and rode the final leg together.

I'll post some photos as they are made available to me.  I did the ride as the only Long Tan vet and suffered as you would expect a 71-year-old non-bike-rider to suffer!  Well, I had 4 or 5 months of training to prepare, so I was able to finish.

The ride was in commemoration of the service and sacrifice of Diggers in Vietnam and in the war-like conflicts since - Timor, Solomons, Rwanda, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan...  A few of these vets rode with us for parts of the trip but the majority were Viet Vets and supporters.  It was a real commemoration event, but was not supported by the Federal Government, unfortunately.  On the other hand, the State Governments assisted - particularly the Victorian Government - and many private and corporate sponsors assisted the ride.

 

And Battlefields further afield...:
We have long had an interest in the battlefields of WW1 and WW2 in Europe, and have put together a proposed itinerary for a European Battlefields Tour which includes having ANZAC Day at Villers Bretonneux in France.  The template itinerary was done for April 2014.  We've put details on this website - please  look at the "Europe Battlefield Tours" page in the column to the left.  Please consider this tour - it uses the resources of Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours so includes very competent historians and travel arrangements.  (At this stage, Di and I are NOT booked to go on it, but we'd LIKE to).  See the web page for a flyer and the full itinerary.

As the next step in this process, Di and I went to Europe in April this year.  We spent a week on the Gallipoli peninsula, a week on the Western Front and a week on the Normandy landings.  In between these weeks were stays in Paris, Switzerland and London, almost always looking at War-related places (but in Switzerland, it was spent mostly on their fabulous rail system including the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express).  While we have not updated the 2014 proposed itinerary, we have now visited all the places and Di can put you on the right tour or tours to see them.  Di's on 0412 278 888 or (03) 9787 8888 and would be happy to talk about your travel ideas.

While we have not proceeded with European Battlefield Tours, Di has used her knowledge and experience to provide many private tours of European battlefields.  If this is something you'd like to do, then Di is well placed to set you on the right track.....

And while mentioning Di and her Travel expertise, you might want to visit her own website:  http://www.sabben.com/DisShipsAndTrips/home.html

There's a page on her credentials and lots of the latest cruise news snippets, many pages of the ships and trips she's had and finally, lots of Cruise Specials currently on offer.  Please visit if interested.....

 

And MORE speaking activities:
Latest news is that I presented a paper at the AWM's conference "International Perspectives of a Long War - Vietnam".  It'll was on 15-16 August 2013 and the details are on the AWM website - http://www.awm.gov.au/conference/2013/vietnam . There will, in due course, be a publication on the Conference but not for a while - books are still awaited for the last two Conferences.

For those in Sydney, I spoke at the Kirribilli RSL at their "Dine With A Digger" evening on Thursday 22 August.  The talk (by request) was the Powerpoint presentation on the battle of Long Tan followed by questions.  The event was well attended and I'm told no one went to sleep in the presentation - which can't be all bad!

Meanwhile, down Frankston (Vic) way - near where I live - the Frankston RSL (of which I am a member) has opened a "YOUNG VETERANS & FAMILIES WELLBEING CENTRE" to assist Vets and their families from all the post-Vietnam and Peacekeeping deployments.

In order to get the Centre known, I gave a series of free Powerpoint presentations on different Vietnam battles at the Centre for eleven consecutive Tuesday nights 23 July thru to 1 October inclusive.  I'm told some 120 persons attended over the 11 sessions.  The co-ordinator Kerry gave the series a big 'tick' and mentioned maybe a reprise later.  Maybe!

April 2015 I'm in the NSW Central Coast, at the Terrigal RSL ANZAC Day events.  Then maybe at Canberra for the 50th anniversary of National Service (second scheme) and in Brisbane early July to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our march in to the NS Officer Training Unit at Scheyville.

30 May 2015 I made a presentation to the Military History and Heritage Victoria (MHHV) conference on National Service at the Mechanics Institute in Oakleigh.

August 2015 was the 49th anniversary of the Battle at Long Tan.  All Nashos at the battle turned 70 years old (myself included!), so no special events planned other than maybe a rum'n'coke to remember the casualties - on both sides!

April 2016 will again be busy for me.  Frankston is commissioning a new War Memorial Park on April 10 and I'll be there.  Then I'll be speaking at Mt Macedon the weekend prior to ANZAC Day but will attend the first ANZAC Day at the new Frankston memorial on the 25th.

July 2016 I'll be in Tasmania, speaking at the Reserve Forces Day Parade. And later the same month, on the 27th, I'll be giving a Powerpoint slide presentation on the Battle of Long Tan at the Shrine in Melbourne.  See the Shrine's website for details.

Then in August, we're back to Long Tan for the 50th Anniversary Trek Tour.

The talk with Powerpoint presentation at the Shrine in Melbourne on 27 July went well with over 100 in attendance.  This was followed on 11 August with an address at a private dinner at the Athenaeum Club in Melbourne.  The talk was taped but to date I have not received a copy.  With the 50th Anniversary of Long Tan in a few weeks' time, the subject of the talk was "Why Long Tan?"... why does Long Tan get so much kudos when there were arguably larger battles involving more troops over longer timeframes.

Just back from Viet Nam, I spoke at the 7th Light Horse Dining-In night at Merimbula, NSW.  The subject was Long Tan, but with emphasis on the 3Cav armoured action in particular.  Again, the talk was videoed so can be passed on to interested parties.

Coming up soon (as I write this in early Nov) is an address to a Shrine Dinner in the (Melbourne) Town Hall on 15 Nov.  To close out the year I also have a couple of talks to schools and an evening with the Monash University Regiment diggers and officer cadets.

I'm expecting my schedule of talks as being much reduced for 2017 and beyond...

...but before I do, there's a talk for the Melbourne Shrine Annual Dinner at the Town Hall, Tue 15 Nov 2016.  The theme of the talk was "Correcting some False History of the Viet Nam War...".   Click on the image or HERE for a copy - remembering that the text is only my guide: I do a lot of ad-lib-ing not covered in the text when talking for the actual presentation.

Scaling down on my talks, I have given several more but at the rate of only one every few months.  RUSI Geelong and the Mt Eliza Country Club are the two most recent.  Both on Long Tan but including some questions and comments about the context.  It seems to me that there is increasing recognition that we, the Australians, actually did a good job of our task in Vietnam and actually achieved our aim of why we were there.


Best wishes to all readers, and here's to a great 2018-19 for us all...

Thanks for looking in on my website...