The Long Tan Cross
The Cross was conceived by the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) WO1 James "Jimmy" Cruickshank of the battalion during the units second tour of duty. It was constructed by the unit engineers platoon, the Pioneer Platoon.
On the third anniversary of the battle (1969) The Cross was raised and remained untouched while the Australians were in the province. The background image is that cross, it is now located in the military museum at Bien Hoa.
Thirty-three years ago, 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, on their second tour of South Vietnam, erected a memorial on the battlefield where 18 Australian soldiers were killed in the Battle of Long Tan, three years before. At that same site on 15th April 2002, the Vietnamese people unveiled a completely renovated Long Tan Cross Memorial. Of most significance was the official recognition and acceptance by the Vietnamese, of the importance of this site to Australian Veterans.
The achievement of the renovations and recognition were the results however, of a long process of negotiation by a group of highly respected Australians
who make up the Australian Veterans Vietnam Reconstruction Group (AVVRG).
The AVVRG have for many years, been active in the former Australian Task Force area of operations. This group, founded by veteran Paul Murphy, has undertaken tasks such as the provision of water filtering apparatus, an orphanage, Micro Finance programs, English language tutoring and currently, a kindergarten. The AVVRG are a registered non Government Organisation (NGO) in Vietnam and have long been interested in, and been conducting Memorial Services at the Cross on occasions such as ANZAC Day and Long Tan Day.
Through the last twenty years, increasing numbers of
Australian servicemen have been making the pilgrimage back to Vietnam. During
this time, the Long Tan Cross has increasingly become a focal point for
remembrance of mates, both dead and living, and the sacrifices made in service
to our country. Because of the
unofficial nature of this Memorial, upkeep was difficult and various groups had
at times expressed concern at the state of the area, despite the best efforts of
expatriates to maintain the site.
Clearly, something needed to be done
The Long Tan Cross Memorial Fund was founded in June 2000 to try and bring a greater degree of permanency to to the Long Tan Battle.
Tan Cross as well as improve its official status. The committee comprised veterans of 6 RAR, the Long Tan Veterans Association, RSL, AVVRG (both in Australia and Vietnam) and the Navy and Air Force.
Fundraising was commenced shortly afterwards with ex service and veterans organisations targeted in a bid to raise $60,000. In addition to the Cross renovations, it was considered appropriate to provide funding for some local road works to assist the local Vietnamese as well as improve access for visiting veterans.
While funds were sought, the AVVRG, with assistance at times from the Australian Consulate, made approaches and submitted plans to Baria Vung Tau Peoples Committee and the Union of Friendship. Being a communist country, there were many committees and many meetings. The proposed road improvements became less of an issue to the locals, as agreement regarding the Cross renovations began to emerge. It was March 2002 when the Long Dat Peoples Committee called a meeting attended by members from adjoining wards, Police Departments, Foreign Affairs and the AVVRG. The Chairman declared that all were in agreement that work should proceed and presented a civil contractor who would do the work. A contract was duly produced and signed by Rod Burgess of AVVRG and a deposit paid.
On the 15th April 2002, representatives of the AVVRG and theAustralian Consulate were invited to a ceremony at the site where the formalities of official handover were conducted.
On behalf of all Australians, Mr Rod Burgess accepted the beautifully restored Memorial site and assured the Chairman of the Long Dat Peoples Committee that visitors to the site would observe the correct protocols. The Long Tan Cross Memorial Fund Committee, on behalf of all contributors and veterans, extend sincere thanks and gratitude to the AVVRG, Australian Consulate (Ho Chi Minh City) and the Vietnamese officials and workmen for a magnificent result. The committee also asks that any persons contemplating a visit to the area observe the protocols listed below.
It must be remembered that Vietnam is a communist country and that foreigners cannot change the rules. Even for locals, movement can be restricted. In a nutshell, if you wish to visit the Long Tan Cross, you must have a permit. The fastest way of obtaining the correct documentation is to use a company like VUNG TAU TOURIST COMPANY (firstname.lastname@example.org). Telephone in country (064) 850110 or Fax (064) 856444. Arrangement can be made from Australia and confirmed prior to travel. This is a virtual door-to-door service and the company is reputable. There are other companies offering a similar service. The advantage of these tour companies is that they come with an English speaking guide and that generally 24 hours notice is sufficient time for them to arrange permits. Alternatively you can see the Union of Friendship in Vung Tau where a permit will cost about US$5.00 and take 5-7 days to arrange.
Groups should not be larger than 20. Medals should not
be worn when visiting The Cross and the wear should
1 Insert by webmaster. At this site some 500 lives, or more, were lost during the afternoon, as the platoon sergeant of 11 Platoon D Company 6RAR, the platoon that lost 13 young men, I personally ask that medals and military accoutrements not be worn or displayed in respect to the Vietnamese.
Thank you Bob Buick