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Telegram from Malcolm Fraser regarding death during service in Vietnam

Date: 2 August 1967
Overall: 200 x 215 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Lesley Smolders
Object Name: Telegram
Object No: 00045815

User Terms

    This telegram was received on 2 August 1967. It was sent by the then Minister for the Army, Malcolm Fraser informing the recipient that her fiancee had been killed in action on 1 August 1967 in Phuoc Tuy Province, Vietnam. McGarry was one of 502 Australian servicemen who were killed during the Vietnam War (1962-1975).
    SignificanceThis telegram highlights the human cost of war and the many personal stories of loss for Australians whose friends or family served in the highly controversial conflict.
    HistoryThe Australian government started sending troops to Vietnam in 1965 motivated by a desire to support its ally the United States and to stem the spread of communism in Asia. Phuc Tuy province in South Vietnam was Australia's task force base. An area mainly made up of rainforest and grassland it was strongly held by the Viet Cong in the countryside regions.

    By 1970 it was clear that the Vietnam War had reached a stalemate. The United States had more troops and better equipment, but many of the South Vietnamese supported the Vietcong and worked with them against the Americans. After long peace talks in France, a cease fire was negotiated in 1973 and the American and Australians returned home. Some 520 Australian servicemen were killed during the conflict with the majority of these having their bodies brought back to Australia.

    Private Peter Shaun McGarry from Neutral Bay, Sydney was a 20-year-old volunteer machine-gunner of 2RAR Delta Company. The troops of 2RAR Delta Company spent 10 days on board troop transport HMAS SYDNEY III and disembarked at Vung Tau Bay, Phuoc Tuy Province in South Vietnam. The company conducted 23 operations in Phuoc Tuy Province maintaining patrols and ambushes throughout the area. They lost 28 soldiers during their tour including Private McGarry who died on 1 August 1967 just after 2 am when members of his patrol triggered a Viet Cong landmine.

    McGarry's fiancée Lesley Brabbins received an urgent Australia Post Office telegram from Malcolm Fraser, then Minister for the Army advising her that Private Peter Shaun McGarry had been killed in Vietnam. The telegram expresses the Minister's 'desire to convey to you in your sad bereavement my sincere personal sympathy as well as that of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia and of the Military Board'. McGarry's funeral was held at St Francis' Liberal Catholic Church in Chatswood, Sydney.

    The highly contentious conflict of the Vietnam War generated much political debate and protest, many Australians questioning the point of Australia's involvement and the fruitless loss of so many young Australian men.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Telegram from Malcolm Fraser regarding death during service in Vietnam

    Web title: Telegram from Malcolm Fraser regarding death during service in Vietnam

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