‘Iconic’ Long Tan cross arrives in Canberra –
‘Iconic’ Long Tan cross arrives in Canberra
Updated July 26, 2012 14:07:30
Photo: Australian soldiers erect a cross to commemorate the battle of Long Tan on August 18, 1969. (Christopher John Bellis: EKN/69/0081/VN)
An important symbol of the Vietnam War is in Australia for the first time to go on display at the Australian War Memorial.
Eighteen Australian soldiers were killed in a rubber plantation by the Viet Cong during the battle of Long Tan on August 18, 1966.
Three years later, Australian soldiers returning for a second tour of duty erected a cross at the battle site to commemorate the losses.
The large concrete cross is now on loan to the Australian War Memorial (AWM) from the Dong Nai Museum in Vietnam.
It will go on public display on August 17 to mark the 46th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.
Dr Peter Pedersen from the Australian War Memorial says the battle was a defining moment for Australia in the 10-year Vietnam War.
"The cross has come to commemorate not just the sacrifice and loss of Delta Company 6RAR in the battle, but also the involvement and sacrifice of all Australians in the Vietnam conflict – that’s why it’s iconic," he said.
AWM acting director Nola Anderson says it has taken a few years to negotiate the loan.
"It’s a real bit of history that Australians can come and see. That will mean a lot for Vietnam veterans, to actually see this cross that was on the actual battlefield," she said.
"It’s a cross that bears the marks of history as you look at it. It’s not a pristine cross at all. It’s a cross that’s seen history and it’s a cross that symbolises a lot of very significant history to Vietnam veterans."
A replica cross still stands at the Long Tan site.
"That cross is a pilgrimage site for Australians and Australian veterans going back to Vietnam," Dr Pedersen said.
"Up until recently, possibly right up until now, the replica cross is the only memorial to foreign troops on Vietnamese soil, apart from one to the French."
The cross will be on display at the Australian War Memorial from August 17 until April 2013.
"It’s a chance for Australians to come to the memorial to see the cross, and acknowledge that sacrifice and remember," Dr Pedersen said.
First posted July 26, 2012 13:42:54