The fall of Saigon, 1975 – Fact sheet 243

Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, fell on 30 April 1975 when forces of the North Vietnamese Army invaded the city and captured the presidential palace. This ended a campaign begun in January that saw the North Vietnamese Army overrun the central highlands of South Vietnam and then the coastal cities of Hue (where Australian journalist Peter Whitlock was detained), Da Nang and Qui Nhon.

Australia's military commitment to the Vietnam War – in which over 50,000 personnel saw service – ended with the withdrawal of all combat forces by December 1971. By 1975 the only Australian government presence in Vietnam was diplomatic.

By March 1975 the concern was for the safety of Australians in Vietnam (such as journalists) and those Vietnamese who might be at risk under the new regime. The plight of Vietnamese infants came to particular attention and on 4 and 17 April, RAAF flights evacuated some 270 of them to Bangkok (for transfer to Australia by Qantas) as part of 'Operation Babylift'. Arrangements were also made to assist adult Vietnamese in fear of the new government, including over 400 who were students in Australia. The last Australians from the Australian Embassy in Saigon – including Ambassador Geoffrey Price – were evacuated by the RAAF on 25 April 1975.

Records relating to the fall of Saigon

A selection of records relating to the fall of Saigon held by the National Archives is listed below. Unless otherwise indicated records are held in Canberra.

Records of the Department of Foreign Affairs (CA 1382)

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemSouth Vietnam – political – general1971–81A1838, TS3014/2/1 part 15A
ItemSouth Vietnam – Vietnamese orphans – assistance1971–75A1838, 3014/10/15/6 part 1
ItemSouth Vietnam – Vietnamese orphans – assistance1971–75A1838, 3014/10/15/6 part 2
ItemSouth Vietnam – Vietnamese orphans – assistance1971–75A1838, 3014/10/15/6 part 3
ItemSouth Vietnam – Vietnamese orphans – assistance1971–75A1838, 3014/10/15/6 part 4
ItemNorth Vietnam – political – general1971–75A1838, 3020/2/1 part 24
ItemSouth Vietnam – foreign representation1972–75A1838, 3014/8/2B
ItemPolicy towards countries – South Vietnam1973–75A1838, 2020/2/14 part 11
ItemSouth Vietnam – proposals for international conference1973–75A1838, 3014/9/7/1 part 2
ItemSouth Vietnam – relations with Australia1973–76A1838, 3014/10/1 part 26
ItemSouth Vietnam – relations with Australia1973–76A1838, 3014/10/1 part 27
ItemVietnam – foreign representation – diplomatic1973–75A1838, 3015/10/11/1 part 1
ItemVietnam – foreign representation – diplomatic1973–75A1838, 3015/10/11/1 part 2
ItemVietnam – foreign representation – diplomatic1973–75A1838, 3015/10/11/1 part 3
ItemVietnam – foreign representation – diplomatic1973–75A1838, 3015/10/11/1 part 4
ItemAustralian representation abroad – Democratic Republic of Vietnam – Wilson, David – Ambassador1974–76A1838, 1500/2/93/3
ItemSouth Vietnam – resettlement of refugees1974–75A1838, 3014/2/8 part 5
ItemNorth Vietnam – foreign policy – the war1974–75A1838, 3020/7/1/1 part 8
ItemNorth Vietnam – relations with Australia – general1974–75A1838, 3020/10/1 part 6
ItemPost liaison – Crisis Task Force – Vietnam orphans – second uplift1975A1838, 626/2/9/2/2 part 1
ItemPost liaison – Crisis Task Force – Vietnam orphans – second uplift1975A1838, 626/2/9/2/2 part 2
ItemAsian political subjects of UN concern – North Vietnam1975A1838, 915/7/1A part 2
ItemLegal enquiries – Australian legislation – airlifts of orphans from Vietnam1975–79A1838, 1490/5/94 part 3
ItemDiplomatic representatives in Australia – Republic of Vietnam – closure of embassy in Canberra1975–76A1838, 1500/1/65/17 part 1
ItemAustralian immigration policy and relations with other countries – South Vietnam political refugees – general1975A1838, 1634/70/2 part 2
ItemIndo-Chinese refugees – policies and programs – staff at Republic of Vietnam embassies1975A1838, 1634/75/16 part 1
ItemSouth Vietnam – relations with North Vietnam – military developments1975–76A1838, 3006/8/1 part 30
ItemSouth Vietnam – political – general1975A1838, 3014/2/1 part 77
ItemSouth Vietnam – political – general1975A1838, 3014/2/1 part 79
ItemSouth Vietnam – political – military situation1975A1838, 3014/2/7 part 40
ItemSouth Vietnam – political – military situation1975A1838, 3014/2/7 part 41
ItemAustralian representation in South Vietnam1975A1838, 3014/10/6 part 10
ItemSouth Vietnam – Australian representation – evacuation of Australian personnel1975A1838, 3014/10/6/1 part 2
ItemSouth Vietnam – Australian aid – political refugees1975A1838, 3014/10/15/4 part 2
ItemSouth Vietnam – Australian aid – political refugees1975A1838, 3014/10/15/4 part 4
ItemSouth Vietnam – Australian aid – political refugees1975A1838, 3014/10/15/4 part 10
ItemRepublic of South Vietnam – Vietnamese refugees1975A1838, 3015/7/3 part 1
ItemVietnam – relations with Australia – Provisional Revolutionary Government – general1975A1838, 3015/10/1 part 7
ItemProvisional Revolutionary Government – Vietnam – relations with Australia – general1975–77A1838, 3015/10/1 part 12
ItemNorth Vietnam – relations with Australia – representation1975A1838, 3020/10/6 part 4

Records of Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (CA 1401)

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemVietnam – situation reports1974–75A1209, 1974/7556
ItemAdoption of Vietnamese orphans1975A1209, 1975/546
ItemAdoption of Vietnamese orphans – uplift flight1975A1209, 1975/656
ItemAdoption of Vietnamese orphans – uplift flight1975A1209, 1975/657
ItemAdoption of Vietnamese orphans – uplift flight1975A1209, 1975/658
ItemMr Whitlock – Australian journalist missing in Vietnam 1975A1209, 1975/852

Records of the Australian Embassy, Republic of Vietnam (Saigon) (CA 2773)

Personal papers of EG Whitlam (CP 99) – Records held in Sydney

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemForeign affairs – Senator Willesee1975M519, 29
ItemVietnam – general1975M522, V.2
ItemVietnam – collapse of Saigon Government1975M522, V.4
ItemVietnam – orphans1975M522, V.5

Records of the Department of Labor and Immigration, Victoria (CA 1812) – Records held in Melbourne

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemVietnamese orphans1975B925, V1978/60194
ItemVietnamese orphans1975B925, V1978/60195
ItemVietnamese orphans1975B925, V1978/60196
ItemVietnamese orphans1975B925, V1978/60197
ItemVietnamese orphans1975B925, V1978/60198
ItemVietnamese orphans1975B925, V1978/60199
ItemVietnamese orphans1975B925, V1978/60200

Records of the Administrator, Northern Territory (CA 1070) – Records held in Darwin

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemVietnamese orphans and refugees1975–78F1076, 1975/71
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