A retired Australian army officer has won a 50-year struggle to gain official recognition for the bravery of 10 soldiers who fought under his command during Australia's most costly battle of the Vietnam War.

The 83-year-old retired Lt. Col. Harry Smith was presented at Parliament House on Wednesday with a recommendation by a review tribunal for nine soldiers to be decorated for the first time and a 10th soldier to have his medal upgraded for courage shown during the Battle of Long Tan in a Vietnamese rubber plantation on Aug. 18, 1966.

Smith led a company of 105 Australian soldiers plus three New Zealanders supported by artillery that won a battle against more than 2,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops. Eighteen Australians were killed and 24 wounded.