Original Long Tan Cross on loan to Australian War Memorial
Posted by Vietnam Swans on October 16, 2012
The original Long Tan Cross usually lives in the Dong Nai Museum but, until July of next year, it is on loan to the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in Canberra.
The Cross was officially unveiled at the AWM two months ago on 17 August 2012 by the Australian Governor General, Quentin Bryce.
At 3.30pm on 18 August, 1966, a fierce firefight erupted between Australian Delta Company 6RAR and Viet Cong soldiers in a rubber plantation at Long Tan in driving rain.
245 Viet Cong and 18 Australians died in what was to become known as the Battle of Long Tan.
Three years later, 10 Australian soldiers who survived the battle returned to erect a Cross on the site. Following the end of the War in 1975, the Vietnamese removed the Cross and, for some time, it marked the grave of a Catholic priest. It was then moved again, this time, to the Dong Nai Museum in Bien Hoa City and this is the Museum that has now loaned the Cross to the AWM.
So, what of the Cross that stands at Long Tan today? That is a replica that was erected by the Local District People’s Committee in 1987 as relations between Australia and Vietnam improved.
At the official service unveiling the original Long Tan Cross at the AWM two months ago, ABC News recorded excerpts of two speeches. The first was with Vietnam Veteran, Lt. Col. Harry Smith:
“The Memorial Cross, of course, is what Long Tan was all about. It’s a symbol that enshrines the spirits of those 18 young men.
“But since the Vietnam Veterans’ Association took Long Tan on board as the icon of their war, the whole of the war, it’s been elevated on a platform and the Long Tan Cross now symbolises the 520 young men we lost in Vietnam and the 3,000 that were wounded.
“It represents the souls of those who passed away at Long Tan and it has now been taken on board by the whole of the Vietnam War Society.”
Neil Rankin, a Long Tan Veteran, also spoke at the unveiling:
“The Cross at Long Tan has been an assembly point for all Veterans to visit. Not only on ANZAC Day, or Vietnam Veterans’ Day and, in our case, Long Tan Day, but by anyone visiting throughout the year. It’s there to commemorate, not only those from Delta Company, but all those who fell during the Vietnam conflict.
“I ask you again, ‘What will you see today?’ You will see the original Cross that was erected on the Battlefield in 1969. What you won’t see is the pain and sorrow where this Cross once stood: where 18 young lives were lost and another 23 wounded; the remaining 69 battling with the memory of this loss for the rest of our lives.
“You will also see the plaque that shows that this Cross was dedicated to, not only the men of Delta Company, but to the enemy who fell on the 18th August.
“It also honours the 245 Vietnamese soldiers who were buried on the same battlefield.”
- To see the speeches quoted above, click onto ABC TV
- For tours to the Long Tan Cross from Vung Tau, please contact Vietnam Swan, Glenn Nolan
- For more information on the Vietnam Swans’ annual 2012 ANZAC Friendship Matches, click here
The Vietnam Swans are currently proposing an concept whereby the AFL would investigate holding a Vietnam Veterans Day Twilight Match dedicated to all veterans, irrespective of war or peacekeeping operation, on Vietnam Veterans’ Day next year, Sunday, 18 August, 2013. Next year is particularly significant as 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam.
For more information, click here.