Year

2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

School of Humanities and Social Inquiry - Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts

Abstract

This is a thesis that relies upon oral history to investigate the experiences of Australian soldiers serving in Vietnam in 1967. The thesis is unusual because the historian is the former platoon commander of these soldiers who recorded the narrations of former platoon members. The first half of the thesis examines the strengths and weaknesses of oral history and why the Vietnam War has produced so many controversial 'narrations' from veterans of the war. The second half of the thesis examines a controversy that affected this platoon and involved the killing of civilians in an ambush on 23 October 1967. The ambush became a major controversy in the Australian press in 1976. The conclusion reached is that oral history, especially the narrations of ordinary soldiers, is vital for an improved understanding of the Vietnam War but these narrations must be used carefully and corroborated as much as possible with written sources. In the case of the ambush that is at the centre of this thesis, it is only through the narrations of the soldiers that it is possible to understand an event that became embroiled in political controversy and patriotic propaganda.

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