Long Tan Cross to be displayed in Canberra
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Long Tan Cross to be displayed in Canberra

The original Long Tan Cross, the memorial erected by the soldiers of 6 Royal Australian Regiment at the site of the battle that claimed the lives of 18 of their mates, is to be displayed at the Australian War Memorial from August 17 to April next year.

It is on loan from Vietnam's Dong Nai Museum.

The Battle of Long Tan memorial cross.

The Battle of Long Tan memorial cross.Credit:Jay Cronan

The cross was dedicated by RAR soldiers on August 18, 1969 - the third anniversary of the battle that gave it's date to Australia's Vietnam War Day.

Long Tan saw 105 Australians and three New Zealanders engage and rout a regiment of North Vietnamese regulars and a battalion of Viet Cong totalling more than 3000 troops.

Vietnam veterans Peter Slack-Smith,  Peter Dinham and Adrian Roberts look over the cross before it goes on public display.

Vietnam veterans Peter Slack-Smith, Peter Dinham and Adrian Roberts look over the cross before it goes on public display.Credit:Jay Cronan

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Viet Cong records, captured later in the war, put the communist casualties at 878 killed or missing and 1500 wounded.

The brainchild of Lieutenant Colonel David Butler and Warrant Officer James Cruickshank, the Long Tan Cross was made out of concrete by Sergeant Alan McLean.

It was transported to the rubber plantation where the battle had been fought by helicopter.

The cross was removed by a local or locals after the war, subsequently found by an Australian researcher and is now on permanent display at Dong Nai.

Members of the local community erected a replica of that cross, which now stands in the place of the original, in the mid-1980s.

An AWM spokesman said members of the public are invited to come to the Memorial and be part of special closing ceremonies on the afternoons of Friday, August 17, and Saturday, August 18, that will commemorate the service and sacrifice of those men who fought the battle of Long Tan and of all Australians who served during the Vietnam War.

Few of the Australian veterans of the battle have ever seen the original cross as they had been transferred back to Australia long before it was erected.