On 23 October 2014 The Townsville Bulletin (itself a News Limited publication) published this article by Ross Eastgate OAM. Ross corrects the record on behalf of Peter White MC and every member of 2 Platoon, A Company, 2nd Battalion the Royal Australian Regiment who deployed to South Vietnam in 1967-68.
Here is some of what Ross had to say - you can read the entire article here at The Townsville Bulletin.
Shameful slur demands reply
EVERY individual carries for a lifetime the consequences of personal actions.
Perhaps none so more than those who have experienced military combat first hand, when instant decisions do not always end with intended consequences.
At 0735hrs on Monday, October 23 1967, 2 Platoon A Coy 2RAR initiated an ambush in AO Petre, Phuoc Tuy Province, Vietnam when 14 individuals walked into the killing zone.
The ambush was situated 2000m into a restricted area and the individuals were observed wearing packs and carrying what were later identified as sticks.
There were no Australian casualties but four Vietnamese were killed, six wounded plus three unhurt who were reported to be “hysterical”.
The following day another wounded Vietnamese was located and medically evacuated.
The incident is clearly recorded in the war diaries of both 2RAR and HQ 1ATF, and was reported to both the Deputy Chief of the General Staff and Minister for the Army in November 1967.
Despite this clear evidence last week journalist Matthew Benns claimed there was “an official cover-up that wiped any record of the incident from the official history”, “the published official histories sanitised (the incident)”; which “(was removed) from the official history”; and “had been airbrushed from the official history”.
Further he claimed the company commander the late Peter White MC suggested placing weapons on the bodies would have somehow added credibility to the ambush outcome.
Peter White died in 2005 and cannot defend himself but this slur on the reputation of an honourable man cannot go unchallenged.
Benns could have, but obviously did not, check the reports of the ambush which are readily accessible on the Australian War Memorial website.
There are no deletions, removals or cover-ups in the digitised copies of the original reports.
The incident has been accurately reported in subsequent histories.
Read more at The Townsville Bulletin.
Here is some undated background on Ross from www.rogerclarke.com
Ross Eastgate enjoyed Year 12 at Bundy High so much in 1966 he did it again in 1967 before heading off to the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1968.
He graduated to the Royal Australian Corps of Signals in December 1971 and served in PNG, the Middle East, Bougainville and East Timor.
Ross was awarded an OAM in 2000 for his service to veterans and their families.
An inveterate scribbler even at Bundy High, his latter career has been in journalism and he is presently a columnist, features writer and the beer editor at The Gold Coast Bulletin.
Ross helps Roger maintain the world's oldest and most authoritative website on 'Waltzing Matilda'. Using his fluency in PNG Melanesian Pidgin, he provided background to and and explanation of 'Kai Kai the Buai'.
Ross, who has been never short of a word, can be heard every ANZAC Day as one half of the ABC TV Queensland commentary team covering the Brisbane march. He also turns up on ABC Radio, e.g. on War 'Stories' (8 February 2005), with Sandy McCutcheon on 'Does The Culture Of The Military Need To Change?', and even with a photo.
He is married to Anne, they have three adult children and two dogs.
(Ross Eastgate at his daughter Kathryn's wedding - courtesy www.rogerclarke.com)