I Was Only Nineteen


Resource Pack for:‘I Was Only Nineteen’ by John Schuman


Created by Dinah O’Meara


John Schuman is an Australian singer and songwriter. In the 1980s, with his band Redgum, he had a chart-topping hit in Australia with the song ‘I Was Only 19’.

John did not fight in the Vietnam War himself, but he spoke with several ex-soldiers who had, while he was writing the song. The band also donated all profits from the song to help set up a National Vietnam War Memorial in Canberra, Australia.

The Vietnam War lasted from 1 November 1955 to 30 April 1975.Because of the ANZUS pact both Australia and New Zealand felt obliged to support the Americans. This caused a lot of controversy, including in New Zealand. Of the 61,000 Australian military personnel involved, 521 Australian soldiers died and 3,000 were wounded; of the 3,890 New Zealanders involved, there were 37 deaths and 187 injured.