Tunnel Rats – The larrikin Aussie legends who discovered the Vietcong’s secret weapon
By Jimmy Thomson with Sandy MacGregor
Book review by Robert Lindsay
At a time when we remember the bravery of our World War I soldiers, it’s important to recognise the courage of our armed forces in other conflicts. Amongst our bravest soldiers were the men of 3 Filed Troop, who fought the Vietcong in Vietnam. These men were sappers (engineers) who were sent, with other Australian soldiers to Ho Bo woods, north of Saigon, an area believed to contain the Southern Command Headquarters of the enemy. Air strikes and artillery bombardments failed to dislodge the enemy, who remarkably regrouped every time. It was then that the men discovered the Vietcong had excavated an immense labyrinth of tunnels that spread for kilometres in all directions. The men of 3 Filed Troop penetrated these tunnels, going further than any western troops had previously gone, thus earning the title of Tunnel Rats. Imagine their predicament in entering confined, dark, booby-trapped tunnels, edging their way forward with battery powered lamps, a revolver in one hand and a bayonet in the other. They displayed unparalleled valour. This is their story.