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Audio Graeme Burgess remembers army training for the Vietnam War, 2006

TLF ID R8834

This is an edited sound recording of a former Australian soldier, Graeme Burgess, speaking about the School of Military Engineering (SME) in Casula in western Sydney where he trained in 1967 before being sent to fight in the Vietnam War. Burgess gives details of the type of engineer training provided at the SME. He also describes how the SME tried to prepare soldiers for deployment to South Vietnam by building a model of part of a Vietnamese village. The recording was made in April 2006 and lasts for 1 min 22 s.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This recording gives an insight into how the Australian Army prepared some soldiers for Australia's participation in the Vietnam War (1962-72). Burgess outlines what was taught at the SME at Casula, where a large number of Australian soldiers did basic military engineering training before being sent to South Vietnam. He learned how to establish water supply to camps, build pontoons, make barbed wire entrapments and lay explosive devices.
  • Burgess refers to the VC (Vietcong), the name used by the South Vietnamese Government and its allies for the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam, a communist-led guerrilla force fighting against them in the Vietnam War. The Vietcong were closely supported by the North Vietnamese Army, which brought the War to an end in April 1975 when it captured the South Vietnamese capital, Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City).
  • The recording reveals attempts by the SME to simulate actual conditions in South Vietnam and to constantly update the simulation with new information from the warzone. The 'VC Village' mentioned by Burgess included huts that were intended to closely resemble those found in South Vietnam. He also describes displays of booby traps such as 'punji pits', which comprised hidden holes in the ground filled with sharpened bamboo stakes.
  • Burgess also makes mention of a tunnel system at the SME used for training. For years during the Vietnam War, the Vietcong operated from a sophisticated system of interconnected tunnels that stretched for hundreds of kilometres under a large part of South Vietnam. The mosquito-infested tunnels included living areas, hospitals and command centres used to plan night-time attacks.
  • About 50,000 Australians served as part of an allied force led by the USA, which fought with South Vietnamese Government forces in the Vietnam War. Many, like Burgess, were conscripted. A total of 520 Australians died and almost 2,400 were wounded before Australia completed its military withdrawal from South Vietnam in December 1972.

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: Graeme Burgess
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Audio
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements.