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New Zealand Artillery of the Vietnam War

161 Battery

In June 1964 the New Zealand Government sent a detachment of Royal New Zealand Engineers to assist the United States forces in defending the Republic of South Vietnam from invasion by the North. The Engineers were replaced in June 1965 by 161 Battery, RNZA. Other military units were to follow and 161 Bty served with Royal Australian Artillery field regiments, usually as part of the 1st Australian Task Force in support of Australian and New Zealand infantry units. The battery left Vietnam in May 1971 after providing virtually continuous fire support to 1 ATF components and other friendly forces for six years.

Approximately 750 members of 161 Bty served in Vietnam after training at 161 Battery Depot. Tours of duty were 12 months with reinforcements being rotated through the battery each month.


161 Bty tac sign
tac sign

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clicking on this tac sign
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Initially, the battery was equipped with four 105mm L5 pack howitzers, but this was later increased to six. These pieces were considered ideal for the current mobile type of operations because they could be lifted by the helicopters which were then available and were needed only for short periods in each fire base. Later operations required sustained fire for longer periods, and the L5s were replaced in 1967 with 105mm M2A2 howitzers which were lifted by the larger twin-rotor CH47 Chinook helicopter.


The Presidential Unit Citation 1st Class was presented to 161 Bty in 1977 for service during the Vietnam war and in 1995 the unit received the Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC) in recognition of service with the United States 173D Airborne Brigade.

Vietnam Ribbon
Vietnam ribbon

Original strength:

9 officers, 101 other ranks

Ron Agnew. Click to enlarge
Gunner Ron Agnew
(161 Battery FO Party)
stops to fill water bottles at a stream
while on Operations in South Vietnam.
Click image to enlarge.

Battery commanders:

Maj DR Kenning June 1965 - June 1966

Maj Tom Martin (left) hands over command of 161 Battery to Maj Geoff Hitchings.
Click image to enlarge.

Maj HB Honnor June 1966 - May 1967
Maj TG Martin May 1967 - April 1968
Maj GA Hitchings April 1968 - March 1969
Maj JO'B Horsford    March 1969 - September 1969
Maj RJ Andrews September 1969 - September 1970
Maj JM Masters September 1970 - May 1971


Main engagements:

Long Tan


161 Battery exists today as part of 16 Field Regiment.

See also:

Vietnam War Roll of Honour (NZ)
Nominal Roll of NZers in the Vietnam War
other images from Vietnam:
    Nui Dat    |    Song Be    |    Bien Hoa    |    Long Phuoc
161 Battery
161 Battery Depot
16 Field Regiment
Establishing the gun position at Nui Dat
Extract from a Forward Observer's War Diary in SVN
R&R: Two ex-members of 161 Bty, RNZA re-visit Vietnam
The 161 Battery Panther
40th Anniversary of Single Gun Ready

Click to enlarge
Forward observation party
Click image to enlarge.


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