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Phantoms of Bribie

The jungles of Vietnam to corporate life and everything in between

Authors: Ian Mackay
(2 customer reviews)
Vietnam, military

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The Phantoms of Bribie is a highly readable blend of an engaging yarn and a fascinating portrayal of operational service in Vietnam as an infantry company commander, leading some 100 fine young national service and regular soldiers in close quarter jungle fighting.

Ian’s training within the SAS and operational service in Malaya served him well in Vietnam where he was a company commander of Bravo Company 6 RAR. During Operation Bribie he lead his outnumbered company’s desperate bayonet charge, followed by close quarter fighting, against a well dug in and determined enemy. This action sharply illustrated the courage, the battle discipline and the spirit of the well trained Australian combat infantryman.

On leaving the Army, Ian excelled in the Australian and international business worlds. A multi-talented sportsman, Rugby Union remained his passion, in which he performed to international level. Ian outlines the difference between leadership and management using many interesting and often humorous examples. Both qualities are vital for successful senior operatives in both civilian and military organisations. Most importantly, as Ian explains, a good leader must also be an effective decision maker and a good communicator.

This book is a tribute to Ian Mackay’s qualities as a battlefield commander, an international sportsman, a successful businessman and an entertaining author.

2 reviews for Phantoms of Bribie

  1. Fifty years ago on the afternoon of 17 February 1967, an Australian force found itself facing defeat in a thick patch of jungle near the coast of Phuoc Tuy province. In just over five hours of fighting eight Australian soldiers were killed and another 27 wounded. This battle became known as Operation Bribie, one of Australia’s worst days in the Vietnam War. Major Ian Mackay (Rtd) was the Officer Commanding when his outnumbered ‘B’ company 6 RAR were primed for a quick short attack on a company-sized Viet Cong force. Mackay remembers the chaos of the battle: The conditions were appalling, in stinking heat with many almost blinded by the smoke from fires, in a fight to the death against a determined, efficient enemy near the village of Hoi My in Phuoc Tuy Province. The action was so close at times that any attempt at movement meant that you were shot or shot at. Mackay has written a detailed blow-by-blow account of the progress of the battle and the difficulties he faced as well as a brief analysis of the outcome. On leaving the Army, he excelled in the business world but it is his Vietnam experiences that will interest military history readers.

  2. Most of us have endured a long bus or plane ride where the passenger beside you is intent on sharing their life story. For the most it is an embuggerance to the journey but on occasion – rare occasion – the story is so rich and entertaining that a swarm develops and passengers for rows about crank necks and lean over seats to listen in.
    Ian Mackay, who turns 82 this year, is that rare story teller. His book Phantom’s of Bribie takes its title from the band of men of Bravo Company, 6th Royal Australian Regiment who under his command fought the Battle of Bribie near the village of Hoi My in South Vietnam on 17 February 1967. Why they are phantoms is revealed on the journey and is in itself an interesting aspect of a tradition that carries on to this day.
    But back to the journey. Mackay’s story affords the reader more than an account of a single battle or the life of a professional soldier. Like all good yarns well told it drifts in and about topics and times but the threads are bare and easily followed for the engrossed passenger. It is a story of life, love of people, the realities of war and personal endeavor. Read more here

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