Maj  P.J. BADCOE, VC (Post.)

PETER BADCOE was born in Adelaide on 11 January 1934 and was educated in his home city.  He joined the South Australian public service as a clerk.  Early in 1952 he served seven weeks in the 16th National Service battalion and on 12 July entered the Officer Cadet School, Portsea, Victoria, from which he graduated Second Lieutenant on 13 December 1952.

Early postings included the 14th National Service Training Battalion and 1st Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery.  From late 1958 until 1961 he served in the Directorate of Military Operations and Plans at Army Headquarters as a General Staff Officer Grade III.  He returned to regimental duties with the 4th Field Regiment on 6 February 1961 and in June of that year was posted to the 103rd Field Battery, with whom he served a tour of duty in Malaya as a battery captain.  After a third  period with the 1st Field Regiment, November 1963 to August 1965, Badcoe changed his corps from artillery to infantry.  He was promoted temporary Major on 10 August 1965 and posted to the Infantry Centre at Ingleburn, New South Wales.

In August 1966 Badcoe realized his ambition to serve in Vietnam when he was posted to the Australian Army Training Team there as a subsector adviser to the Nam Hoa district of Thua Thien province.  As an adviser he was concerned with military operations and training carried out by the Ruff Puffs in his district.

In December he was reallotted to the sector headquarters of Thua Thien as operations adviser.  Normally he would have been responsible for planning, liaison and associated staff work, but he took full advantage of the latitude given to advisers to lead forces into action whenever the opportunity arose.  It was as province (or sector) operations adviser that he carried out the following actions for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

On 23 February 1967 he was acting as adviser to a regional force company in support of a sector operation in Phu Thu district when he monitored a radio transmission which reported the death of an American subsector adviser and the wounding of an American medical adviser.  With complete disregard for his own safety Badcoe moved alone across 600 metres of fire-swept ground, attended to the wounded medical adviser and ensured his safety.  He then organized a force of platoon strength and led them in a successful assault against the enemy machine-gun post near the body of the American adviser.  He killed the machine-gunners in front of him, picked up the body of the dead American and ran back , over open ground still covered by hostile fire, to the regional command post.

Two weeks later, early on 7 March 1967, the Sector Reaction Company was deployed to Quang Dien subsector to counter Viet Cong attack on the headquarters.  Badcoe, who had left the command group when their vehicle broke down, joined the company headquarters and personally led the company in an attack over open terrain to capture a heavily defended enemy position.  His action prevented the enemy from capturing the district headquarters and averted certain heavy losses.

Exactly one month later, on 7 April, Badcoe was on an operation with the 1st Army of the Republic of Vietnam Division Reaction Company, supported by armoured personnel carriers, in the Huong Tra district.  As the 1st Army moved forward to its objective the company came under heavy small arms fire and had to withdraw to a nearby cemetery for cover.  Badcoe and his radio operator were left fifty metres in front of the others, under heavy mortar fire.  Badcoe ran back and rallied his men and got them moving but they were again stopped by heavy fire.  He rose to throw grenades but was pulled down by his radio operator.  When he got up to throw another grenade he was killed by a burst of machine-gun fire.  Soon after friendly artillery was called in on the enemy position and it was assaulted and captured.

Badcoe was buried at the Terendak cemetery, Malaysia, his epitaph being 'He lived and died a soldier'.  In November 1967 an Australian and New Zealand soldier's club in Vietnam was officially opened as the Peter Badcoe Club.  A training block at the Officer Cadet School, Portsea, was also named Badcoe Hall in his honour.

For his services in Vietnam, in addition to the Victoria Cross, Badcoe was also awarded the American Silver Star.  South Vietnam awarded him the National Order Of The Republic of Vietnam (Knight), three Crosses Of Gallantry (With Palm, Gold Star and Silver Star) and the Armed Forces Honour Medal, 1st Class.

Badcoe married Denise Maureen MacMahon on 26 May 1956.  He had a family of three girls.  His widow who subsequently remarried, and his three daughters presented his medals to the Australian War Memorial for display in the Hall of Valour.

  Lest we forget

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