Long Tan Cross
Long Tan Cross
This memorial was erected by Australian soldiers near the village of Long Tan, South Vietnam, on 18 August 1969, exactly three years after a bloody battle in the area which left hundreds dead, including 18 Australians.
Although Vietnam has been predominantly Buddhist for nearly 2,000 years, Roman Catholicism reached Vietnam in the 17th century and remains very strong. The religious affiliations of the fallen is unknown, and the cross is seen not so much as a religious symbol; rather it is a symbol of remembrance for those who lost their lives in the carnage in 1966. (See also Fallen Soldier Cross and War Memorial Cross.)
At the time, Radio Hanoi reported that the Australians were "mercenaries"; and the Canberra Times reported the Viet Cong as "communist guerrillas". In reality, the casualties on both sides were, as is often the case in war, young conscripts who didn't want to be there in the first place.
The cross is made from steel-reinforced concrete, stands at a height of 1.9 metres, slightly higher than the average Australian male, and weighs 106 kg, a good deal heavier than the average Australian male; though that comparison may change soon!
A replica now stands at the same site and the original has been housed in Dong Nai Museum, Bien Hoa City, since 1984. In August 2012, the original was shipped to go on public display in Canberra until the following April.
See also Quadrate Cross