An important piece of Australia’s military history will find a new home after the Vietnamese government gifted the original Long Tan Cross to Australia.
FILE PHOTO: Pipers and soldiers of 6RAR on Operation Tanager near Balibo, East Timor, parade before a replica of the Long Tan Cross. The parade format also replicated the original 1969 parade in Vietnam. Photo by Corporal Jason Weeding.
Australia’s Ambassador to Vietnam Craig Chittick received the Long Tan Cross from the Dong Nai Province People’s Committee at a small ceremony at the Dong Nai Museum in Biên Hòa last month.
An Australian Defence Force member then travelled with the cross on its journey to Australia.
The Australian government thanked the Government of Vietnam for its generous gift.
The Long Tan Cross was erected by Australian soldiers as a memorial to their fellow diggers who fought and died at the Battle of Long Tan on 18 August 1966, Australia’s most costly single engagement in the Vietnam War.
It was removed from the Long Tan battle site some time after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.
It was reportedly used as a memorial for a Vietnamese Catholic priest until the 1980s when it was restored and eventually placed on display by the Dong Nai Province Museum in Biên Hòa in the late 1990s.
Approximately 60,000 Australian men and women served in the Vietnam War between 1962 and 1975, including 521 who lost their lives and more than 3000 who were wounded.
For many Australians, the Long Tan Cross has come to symbolise our involvement in the Vietnam War.
It is a powerful memorial to the service and suffering of Australian soldiers.
Minister for Veteran’s Affairs Dan Tehan said that thanks to the generosity of the Vietnamese government, the cross would now remain in Australia where it will be honoured, as we honour the men and women who served in the Vietnam War.
“The Long Tan Cross will go on display at its new permanent home at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra from today, 6 December,” Mr Tehan said.
The original Long Tan Cross was displayed at the Australian War Memorial, on loan from the Dong Nai Museum and the Ministry of Culture, from August 2012 until April 2013, and is now back permanently.