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 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 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 3,000 who were wounded.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull thanked the Vietnamese government for its "generosity" in bringing the cross to Australia.
"Thanks to the generosity of the Vietnamese government, the cross will now remain in Australia for perpetuity where it will be honoured, as we honour the men and women who served in the Vietnam War," the Prime Minister said.
"This cross speaks volumes in its rough simplicity, it speaks of values which are eternal."
The decision by the Vietnamese government to return the cross comes after Australian veterans were banned from making a pilgrimage to the scene for annual memorial services last year.