The concept to commemorate the Battle of Long Tan with a memorial cross and a dedication ceremony was decided at a meeting in late 1968 at HQ 6RAR in Lavarack Barracks, Townsville. The meeting involved the commanding officer, Lt Col D M Butler; the second-in command, Major L D Johnson; and the adjutant, Captain M J Harris. The need for this contingency plan had been given impetus by a recent presentation of a United States of America Presidential Unit Citation (Army) to D Company 6RAR by the Australian Prime Minister. This idea was carried to Vietnam with the battalion and was committed to an operational plan at 6RAR-NZ (Anzac) Battalion Headquarters in Nui Dat, Vietnam, in July and August 1969.
The plan was executed by the battalion on the third anniversary of the battle, 18 August 1969.
The Cross was designed and constructed by ‘Pioneers’ from the 6RAR-NZ Anzac Battalion’s Assault Pioneer Platoon and the construction work was overseen by Sgt Allan McLean.
There were a number of difficulties experienced by the Assault Pioneer Platoon during construction of the Cross in the 6RAR-NZ lines at Nui Dat. There were difficulties during delivery. The Cross was suspended under an RAAF UH-IH Iroquois helicopter and during the journey began to swing dangerously, particularly when being lowered through high rubber trees around the small LZ at Long Tan. Difficulties overcome, the cross was erected and dedicated in memory of the fallen. [Click on images for larger version]
The original Cross was removed, (believed to be by a catholic farmer for his father’s grave) sometime after the war in Vietnam ended.
The original Cross was subsequently found and is now is displayed in the Dong Nai Museum. The base in which it sits hides the damage which occurred when the Cross was removed from its initial site on the Long Tan battlefield.
The brass plaque on the cross bore the simple inscription:
In memory of those
members of D Coy and
3 Tp 1 APC Sqn who gave
their lives near this
spot during the battle
of Long Tan on 18TH August 1966
Erected by 6RAR/NZ
(ANZAC) Bn 18 Aug 69.
During the 80’s, the local population around Xa Long Tan constructed a replica of the Long Tan Cross and placed it at the original site. Over the following years the surrounding landscape underwent many changes but the blood red was constant.
In year 2000 the Immediate Past president of 6 RAR Association, Mr. Graham Smith, established the Long Tan Cross Memorial Fund. The aim was to raise sufficient money to renovate the Cross, and concurrently, gain official Vietnam Government recognition of its presence and meaning.
The Vietnam based committee members of the AVVRG succesfully negotiated with local and Government officials to arrange for the renovations and the sought official recognition. Mr Peter Michelson, a former Vice President of AVVRG, must be commended for his assistance prior to and during negotiations.
In April 2002 restorations and additions were completed and the Cross was handed over to AVVRG as official custodians.
Under care of the AVVRG, with ex-patriate and visiting veterans lending a hand, the Cross is maintained well within a harsh environment.
Surrounded by privately owned land, the landscape changed in April 2014.
Here is what the Long Tan Memorial Cross looks like on ANZAC Day, 25 April 2016. Photos by Al Staunton. The Rubber Plantation was partly destroyed by a cyclone in recent years and the rubber plantation has been completely replanted.