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Major Peter John Badcoe (Posthumous)

Thursday 13 February, 2020

Major Peter John Badcoe (Posthumous)

Australian Army Training Team Vietnam

23 February – 7 April 1967

Phu Thu, South Vietnam


Peter John Badcoe was born at Malvern, Adelaide, on 11 January 1934 to Leslie and Gladys Badcock.  After completing his education at Adelaide Technical High School, he joined the Public Service.  In June 1950 he joined the AustralianRegular Army, and on 12 July 1952 enetered the Officer Cadet School at Portsea in Victoria.  He graduated as a second lieutenant five months later. 

On May 26, 1956, he married Denise MacMahon and later became father of three girls.  In 1961, he changed the family name from Badcock to Badcoe.

Short and stout, with horn-rimmed glasses, Badcoe did not look like a military hero.  He was a quiet, gentle and retiring man with a dry sense of humour.  He neither drank, nor smoked.  He was bored by boisterous mess activities and preferred to read military history and write openly and honestly to his wife about his time in Vietnam.  Badcoe was also fearless to the point of recklessness, and was often advised to be more careful.

Following his death on 7th April 1967, Peter Badcoe was buried at the Terendak Military Cemetery in Malaysia, and a simple epitaph appears above his grave: ‘He lived and died a soldier.’  He was eligible for repatriation when the Australian government brought back the remains of 22 other Australian soldiers buried at Terendak in 2015, but his family requested he remain there.


41400 Major Peter John Badcoe was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Australian Staff Corps in December 1952.  He was allotted to the Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery in which he served in a number of Regimental and Staff postings until August 1965.  He then transferred to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps and joined the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam in August 1966.  He was posted as Sector Operations Officer in Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam.  On 23rd February 1967 he was acting as an Advisor to a Regional Force Company in support of a Sector operation in Phu Thu District.  He monitored a radio transmission which stated that the Subsector Adviser, a United States Army Officer, had been killed and that his body was within 50 metres of an enemy machine-gun position; further, the United Stated Media Adviser had been wounded and was in immediate danger from the enemy.  Major BADCOE with complete disregard for his own safety moved alone across 600 metres of fire-swept ground and reached the wounded Adviser, attended to him and ensured his future safety.  He then organised a force of one platoon and led them towards the enemy post.  His personal leadership, words of encouragement, and actions in hostile enemy fire forced the platoon to successfully assault the enemy position and capture it, where he personally killed the machine-gunners directly in front of him.  He then picked up the body of the dead officer and ran back to the Command post over open ground still covered by enemy fire.  On 7th March 1967, at approximately 0645 hours, the Sector Reaction Company was deployed to Quang Dien Subsector to counter an attack by the Viet Cong on the Headquarters.  Major BADCOE left the Command group after their vehicle broke down and a United States Officer was killed; he joined the Company Headquarters and personally led the company in an attack over ope terrain to assault and capture a heavily defended enemy position.  In the face of certain death and heavy losses his personal courage and leadership turned certain defeat into victory and prevented the enemy from capturing the District Headquarters.  On 7th April 1967, on an operation to Huong Tra District, Major BADCOE was with the 1st A.R.V.N. Division Reaction Company and some armoured personnel carriers.  During the move forward to an objective the company came under heavy small-arms fire and withdrew to a cemetery for cover, this left Major BADCOE ran back to them, moved amongst them and by encouragement and example got them moving forward again. He then set out in front of the company to lead them on; the company stopped again under heavy fire by Major BADCOE continued on to cover and prepared to throw grenades, when he rose to throw, his radio operator pulled him down as heavy small-arms fire was bring brought to hear on them; he later got up again to throw a grenade and was hit and killed by a burst of machine-gun fire.  Soon after, friendly artillery fire was called in and the position was assaulted and captured.  Major BADCOE’s conspicuous gallantry and leadership on all these occasions was an inspiration to all, each action, ultimately, was successful, due entirely to his efforts, the final one ending in his death.  His valour and leadership were in the highest tradition of the military profession and the Australian Regular Army. 

The London Gazette

13 October 1967; supplement 17 October 1967

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