Long Tan Cross back in Australian hands.

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Australia's covert operation to take back Cross of Long Tan

Cross of Long Tan's return to Australian War Memorial kept secret for weeks
By Elise Scott


Updated yesterday at 5:45pm



Photo: The cross was erected by Australian soldiers in 1969 at the site of the Battle of Long Tan. (Supplied: Australian War Memorial)





The Cross of Long Tan has finally been returned to Australians, after standing at the site of the bloody battle in Vietnam for almost 50 years.

But the cross was installed in the Australian War Memorial under the cover of darkness and its return was kept secret for weeks.

The Australian War Memorial collected the cross from Sydney Airport in early November, after the Vietnamese Government made the decision to hand it back in the lead-up to last month's APEC conference.

The Long Tan cross, one of only a couple of foreign memorials from the war allowed to stand by the Vietnamese government, was erected by the 6th Battalion The Royal Australian Regiment, on their second tour of South Viet Nam on 18 August 1969, commemorating the battle that had occurred on August 18 1966, the whole Battalion moved out to the battle site, set up a defensive position and held a service/erected the cross.

The cross hasn't actually stood at the battle site for a very long time, some shoddy reporting there by the ABC. At some stage the brass plate from the cross was used as both a bbq plate and as a grave marker, an Australian Veteran had made noises about stealing the cross and returning it to Australia, which is when it made its way to a local museum. Eventually being put on display.

In the interim a replica was erected and it became a significant tourist sight, although not one the Vietnamese Government cared for. When I visited it for the 40th anniversary of the battle in 2006, we had to do so with a government sponsored guide and at last years 50th anniversary of the battle, hundreds of visitors were denied access to the cross at the last minute. No doubt some of this was due to the behaviour of those attending, with long established boundaries being pushed if not outright broken. We had at least 500 people at the 40th anniversary and 4 or 5 times that was due to be at the site for the 50th. I don't think that annual service is something the locals want to foster.

The cross had a quick visit to Australia in 2012/13, returning to Viet Nam, but it appears it's back for good. Which makes me wonder if the replica cross is about to removed from the battle site.
 

digrar

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Is that similar to the behaviour at Gallipoli?

More likely to be a ex serving crowd at Long Tan, where as Gallipoli is more likely to be young people on a back packing holiday through Europe, with drunken behaviour to go with it. But between long running feuds between veterans and people wearing uniforms and medals when the Vietnamese had indicated that wasn't on, and running a bit of amok down at Vung Tau, it wasn't showing us in the best light to the locals.
 
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