COPIES OF "INWARDS CABLEGRAMS" TO THE AUSTRALIAN EXTERNAL AFFAIRS NOW FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE FROM AUSTRALIA'S EMBASSY SAIGON.

The Cablegrams were dated 31 August and 2 September 1966


Dated 31 August 1966

VIETNAMESE AWARDS.

        COMAFV HAS HEARD UNOFFICIALLY THAT GENERALS THIEU AND KHANG (COMMANDER III CORPS) ARE PLANNING TO MAKE A SURPRISE VISIT IN NEAR FUTURE TO TASK FORCE, POSSIBLY ON 2ND SEPTEMBER. IF SO, IT WOULD BE IN CHARACTER FOR GENERAL THIEU TO TRY TO SHOW APPRECIATION FOR HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL MILITARY OPERATION IN TASK FORCE AREA RECENTLY BY MAKING SURPRISE AWARDS TO SOME MEMBERS OF UNITS INVOLVED.

2.IF SOMETHING ON THESE LINES DOES EVENTUATE COMAFV INTENDS TO FOLLOW COURSE WHICH HE DISCUSSED DURING HIS RECENT VISIT TO CANBERRA, NAMELY THAT, PENDING FORMULATION OF POLICY ON RECEIPT OF VIETNAMESE AWARDS APART FROM VIET-NAM CAMPAIGN MEDAL, VIETNAMESE LEADERS SHOULD NOT BE PLACED IN EMBARRASSING POSITION BY REFUSAL OF AWARDS WHICH THEY MIGHT BESTOW WITHOUT ADVANCE WARNING.

3. RECIPIENTS WOULD BE PERMITTED TO WEAR THESE AWARDS WHILE IN THE THEATRE IN THE EVENT OF ATTENDANCE AT OFFICIAL VIETNAMESE PARADES SUCH AS ARMED FORCES OR NATIONAL DAYS. AWARDS WOULD BE TREATED AS ??????????????????????????????????? FROM THE THEATRE.


 Dated 2 September 1966

PRIORITY.

FOR THE ACTING SECRETARY.

VIETNAMESE AWARDS

OUR TELEGRAM 1100.  

WHILE I WAS VISITING TASK FORCE YESTERDAY GENERAL THIEU'S OFFICE OFFICIALLY INFORMED THE EMBASSY OF HIS PROPOSED VISIT TO THE TASK FORCE ON 2ND SEPTEMBER, PASSED ON HIS INVITATION TO ME TO ACCOMPANY HIM, AND FORMALLY ENQUIRED WHETHER AUSTRALIAN SERVICEMEN COULD RECEIVE VIETNAMESE AWARDS. ON MY RETURN TO SAIGON I CONTACTED FOREIGN MINISTER DO AND TOLD 1PM THAT, APART FROM THE VIET-NAM CAMPAIGN MEDAL, THERE WAS NO CHANGE IN THE FORMAL POSITION ON AWARDS AS ADVISED BY THE EMBASSY LAST OCTOBER OH BASIS OF YOUR MEMO 700 OF 13TH OCTOBER 1965 I.E. AS A GENERAL RULE PERMISSION OF THE QUEEN WAS REQUIRED FOR THE ACCEPTANCE OF AWARDS. (ALSO MENTIONED TO DO. THAT IF GENERAL THIEU WAS DETERMINED TO PRESENT AWARDS IN ANY EVENT HE MIGHT PREFER NOT TO HAVE ME IN THE PARTY). ON DR DOíS SUGGESTION I INFORMED THE DIRECTEUR DE CABINET OF GENERAL THIEUíS OFFICE, WHO RANG LATER TO SAY THAT GENERAL THIEU HAD DECIDED NOT TO PRESENT AWARDS IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES BUT INTENDED NEVERTHELESS TO MARK HIS VISIT MY PRESENTING A PLAQUE TO THE TASK FORCE ANO VIETNAMESE GIFT SOUVENIRS TO MEMBERS OF TASK FORCE AND IN PARTICULAR DELTA COMPANY 6 RAR.  COMAFV , WHOM I CONSULTED ON THESE DEVELOPMENTS, THOUGHT THAT GENERAL THIEUíS PROPOSED COURSE OF ACTION WAS IN ORDER.

2. VISIT TOOK PLACE THIS MORNING WITH GENERALS VIEN (CGS), KHANG (COMMANDER III CORPS) AND SEAMAN (COMMANDER II FIELD FORCE) IN ATTENDANCE. AFTER INSPECTING THE HONOUR GUARD OF DELTA COMPANY AND SPEAKING HOST WARMLY ABOUT THEM AND THE TASK FORCE, GENERAL THIEU PRESENTED PLAQUE AND SOUVENIRS. 

3, ALTHOUGH PURPOSE OF VISIT WAS TO ENABLE THE VIETNAMESE HEAD OF STATE PERSONALLY AND FORMALLY TO EXPRESS HIS COUNTRYíS APPRECIATION OF THE TASK FORCE, I FEEL THAT THE OCCASION WOULD HAVE BEEN MOST FITTING (AND PERHAPS MORE APPRECIATED) IF GENERAL THIEU HAD FELT ABLE TO BESTOW AWARDS. IN THE EVENT HE MUST HAVE DECIDED THAT WHILE OUR PRACTICE ON AWARDS SHOULD BE RESPECTED IT WAS STILL, HIS PREROGATIVE TO MAKE. A SPECIFIC GESTURE IN A VIETNAMESE WAY.

 4. AS SIMILAR SITUATIONS COULD ARISE IN THE FUTURE I SUGGEST THAT THOUGHT MIGHT BE GIVEN TO WAY WHICH OUR PRACTICE ON AWARDS MIGHT BE MODIFIED TO GIVE SERVICEMEN RESTRICTED PERMISSION TO RECEIVE VIETNAMESE AWARDS.