Vietnam War Collections
Australia's Vietnam War: 50 Years On
Honouring Service and Sacrifice: Celebrating Life
2023 is, in many ways, the Year of the Vietnam Veteran. As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War (1962-1973) it is time to honour the lives of these extraordinary servicemen and women – their service, their sacrifices, and their lives – the families they have created; the contributions they have made to Australia, and the dignity with which they have carried forward the ANZAC Spirit.
Special Collections and Memories
For some 30 years we have proudly worked alongside the Australian military and veterans' associations to create historic collections and memorabilia to remember the Vietnam War and honour those who served. It had been our privilege to share their story and to help preserve this proud history in families and communities for generations to come.SHOP OUR VIETNAM WAR COLLECTABLES View our Vietnam War Collections
Join the Conversation
We're helping Australians of all ages better understand the life and times of our Vietnam Veterans as we commemorate the end of Australia's involvement in the war 50 years ago. We're sharing interesting social bits and pieces from the Vietnam War era to give you a feel of the world back then, but most importantly we're sharing your memories, stories, and pride. Join us in honouring our Veterans.Share Share Save Share your story or image
Australian Government 50th Anniversary Family Medallion
The Department of Veterans' Affairs has developed a special medallion to commemorate the end of Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War. The medallion will be made available to all Australian Vietnam veterans or their family.
Find out more about the eligibility requirements and apply for your medallion here.
Veterans on film
Newsreels and clips from the time
Throughout the Vietnam War cinematography brought the war into homes across Australia. We're sharing some as part of this special year for Vietnam Veterans. It's a chance to learn more about the times and attitudes, and perhaps rekindle your own memories. There are many young soldiers captured on film. Some will no longer be with us, others will be. If you recognise faces or places, or have memories, please share your insights.
Life and Times
It is one thing to look at when the war happened but perhaps it is equally important to look at the world in which it took place. Just like people today, our veterans were shaped by events, popular culture, and the social values of the time. Times have changed but, in many ways, people are the same. Imagine yourself in that time, 1962-1973, and appreciate the people they were and are today.
1962: The Year in Review
It's 1962. Australia is enjoying post WWII prosperity and growth; the baby boom is coming to an end, and tennis legends Rod Laver and Margaret Court are the big names on world courts. Lucky Starr's hit "I've been everywhere" reaches #1 in Sydney and Roy Orbison's "Working for the Man" is a national hit. All is good you'd think, but the world also faces the real threat of nuclear annihilation when the Cuban Missile Crisis takes America and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war. To help stem the spread of communism in Asia Australia commits its first soldiers to the conflict. Our Vietnam War has begun. Read the full 1962: The Year in Review.
In many ways 1962 was just another prosperous year in Australia. Popular music stations and record stores were belting out Roy Orbison's Working for the Man (#1) while Australia's own Lucky Starr was dazzling listeners with his rapid-fire lyric hit I've Been Everywhere (#14). People were getting excited about the British Empire and Commonwealth Games to be held in Perth in November/December; Australian tennis icons Rod Laver and Margaret Court were cementing their future legend status on courts across the world, and Australia's population of some 10.7 million was enjoying the prosperity of the post Second World War boom years.
But 1962 was a troublesome and dangerous year for the world. The Cold War, predominately between the Soviet Union and the United States, was in full flight and came to an almost catastrophic head in October when the Soviets stationed nuclear missiles in Cuba – less than 200kms from mainland America. The 13-day Cuban Missile Crisis took the world to the brink of a nuclear war and Australians were fully aware of the effects it could have. Just two years earlier in 1959 the Hollywood blockbuster On the Beach, a post-apocalyptic film set in 1964 Australia and staring Hollywood legend Gregory Peck, sees deadly radioactive fallout from nuclear war slowly consume the globe – with Australia one of the last to succumb – but it does succumb. It was a terrifying prospect.
It was the Cold War, and an ever-pressing concern about the expansion of Communism in Asia (and Europe), that was a driving force in Australia's first commitment to the Vietnam conflict. In 1961 then Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev promised support for "wars of national liberation" throughout the world. This promise encouraged communists in North Vietnam to escalate their ongoing armed struggle to unify Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh. South Vietnam pleaded for help from the US and its allies to stem the invading communists. Australia committed 30 highly skilled military advisors (The Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV)) to work alongside the South Vietnamese.
AATTV was increased to 73 in September 1964, and then to 112 in June 1965. Its strength peaked in 1970 when 217 advisors were in place. From early 1971, as part of Australia's decision to reduce its commitment to the war, the size of the Team was gradually reduced before it was fully withdrawn in December 1972.Close
Music of the Vietnam War
Music plays an incredible role in shaping society. Just like today, back in the Vietnam war era our veterans were listening to the music THEIR parents couldn't understand. Enjoy listening and learning. It's the music they listened to here and over there. Its memories to music.
Every few weeks we will release another year's hits, so make sure you pop back regularly. Please share this music with your friends and vote for your favourites.
Hits of 1962
It's 1962 and Lucky Starr's hit "I've been everywhere" reaches #1 in Sydney and Roy Orbison's "Working for the Man" is a national hit. But Australia is worried about communism's spread and the real prospect of nuclear war. Australia sends special military advisers to Vietnam marking the start of Australia's longest war of the 20th Century.Share the playlist Share the playlist Vote for your favourite
Hits of 1963
Its 1963 and a new four-piece band from England grabs national attention. The Beatles, with their unique British sound, take Australia by storm. Their first record 'Please Please Me' in March takes the country by storm and by the latter part of the year their hits continue with 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' and 'She Loves You' topping the charts. Beatlemania is here and young teenagers (and adults), many who in just a few years' time will be serving in Vietnam, flock to record stores. Australia is truly feeling part of the Empire.
In 1963 a new music craze is also developing – the distinct sound of the blossoming surf culture. 'Pipleline' by the Chantays makes the top ten and 'Bomborra' by the Atlantics narrowly misses out. The 'Stomp' dance that accompanies surf culture is also making waves. Some councils want it banned in recreation halls because it was thought to damage buildings. Teenagers couldn't understand the fuss and the craze continued. Surf culture endured for many who served in Vietnam. Just a few years later some of those same teenagers would be riding waves at Vung Tau with heavy machine guns and barbed wire protecting their surf break.Share the playlist Share the playlist Vote for your favourite
Hits of 1964
In 1964, The Beatles shaped Australian culture and inspired artists amidst uncertainty over the Vietnam War. Billy Thorpe's "Poison Ivy" captured the nation's optimism and paved the way for future Australian rock musicians. With its catchy lyrics and infectious beat, the song became an instant classic, solidifying Thorpe's influence on fashion and youth culture.Share the playlist Share the playlist Vote for your favourite
Hits of 1965
In 1965, while Australia was embroiled in the Vietnam War and divided, music was a refuge for many. A reminder that even in difficult times, people can find comfort and joy in the power of song.
Hit songs come from artists across the globe. From International artists - Beatles, Elvis Presley, and Herman's Hermits- to Australian artists - Normie Rowe and Julie Rogers - had hit songs making the charts.Share the playlist Share the playlistVote for your favourite
Hits of 1966
With a mix of rock, pop, and folk influences, 1966 was a year of great musical experimentation and creativity. The Beatles dominated the charts. Some notable songs from the year include Nancy Sinatra's iconic "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," The Rolling Stones' "Paint It, Black," and The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations." Australian rock band, The Easybeats also made their mark with "Friday on My Mind."Share the playlist Share the playlistVote for your favourite
Hits of 1967
1967 was a time of great turmoil for Australia as the Vietnam War impacted the nation. However, amidst this uncertainty, music provided an escape for many. Popular songs such as "The Last Waltz" and "This Is My Song" offered a temporary respite, while "Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron" provided a comedic take on the conflict. The Beatles' politically charged hits significantly impacted the music scene in 1967.Share the playlist Share the playlistVote for your favourite
Hits of 1968
1968 was a time of great turmoil for Australia as the Vietnam War impacted the nation. However, amidst this uncertainty, music provided an escape for many. Popular songs such as "The Last Waltz" and "This Is My Song" offered a temporary respite, while "Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron" provided a comedic take on the conflict. The Beatles' politically charged hits significantly impacted the music scene in 1968.Share the playlist Share the playlist
Hits of 1969
In 1969, Australia was alive with the sounds of rock and roll, with hit songs like "The Real Thing" by Russell Morris and "Honky Tonk Women" by the Rolling Stones dominating the airwaves. The year was filled with iconic songs that captured the era's essence, reflecting Australia's changing times and cultural movements worldwide.Share the playlist Share the playlist
Hits of 1970
This eclectic compilation of chart-topping tunes from 1970 reflects the era's diverse musical landscape and the significant events that shaped Australia during that year. From The Beatles' soulful "Let It Be" to the evocative "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel, these songs resonated with the public amidst social and political turbulence.Share the playlist Share the playlist
Hits of 1971
Amidst the national turmoil, music provided an escape and a unifying force for the public. Chart-toppers like Daddy Cool's Eagle Rock and George Harrison's My Sweet Lord offered solace, while songs such as Olivia Newton-John's Banks of the Ohio and Rod Stewart's Maggie May captured the era's essence.Share the playlist Share the playlist
Hits of 1972
During the transformative period of 1972-73 in Australia, the music scene offered a diverse and eclectic mix of tunes that captured the era's essence. Amidst the significant political, social, and cultural changes taking place, the Australian public found solace in the sweet melodies of Donny Osmond's "Puppy Love," the heart-wrenching ballad "Without You" by Nilsson, and the catchy instrumental "Popcorn" by Hot Butter. This playlist provides a nostalgic trip down memory lane. It serves as a soundtrack to a time when Australia underwent a tremendous change, reflecting the nation's evolving tastes and growing cultural identity.Share the playlist Share the playlist
Australian Government 50th Anniversary Family Medallion
The Australian Government, through the Department of Veterans' Affairs, has created a special commemorative medallion to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War. This strictly limited medallion created by our design team is only available to Australian Vietnam veterans, or their surviving family. Check eligibility requirements and apply for your medallion here.
Vietnam War Medals
A Privilege to wear: An honour to Share
Military medals are revered symbols of service. Those who earned them have the honour of wearing them on the left breast, while family and descendants wear them on the right. We create exacting replicas (full-sized and miniature) of Vietnam medal sets approved for wear and beautiful for display.
Vietnam War Questions & Answers
When was the Vietnam War?
Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War was from 31 July 1962 till 11 January 1973 when the then Governor-General, Sir Paul Hasluck, proclaiming an end to Australia's involvement.
However, the war between the North and South had been underway since 1955 and while it technically ended after the signing of The Paris Peace Accords in January 1973, sporadic fighting started again and in 1975 the North launched a major push that ended with the capture of the southern capital of Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) on 30 April. So technically, from Australia's perspective, the war was 1962 till 1973, whereas for the Vietnamese the war ran from 1955 till 1975.
What was the Paris Peace Accords?
The Paris Peace Accords, agreed to by the United States, South Vietnamese, and North Vietnamese governments in January 1973 was an agreement to end the direct combat role of the U.S. in the Vietnam War. It outlined a cease-fire throughout Vietnam and called for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops and advisors; and the dismantling of all U.S. bases within 60 days of the signing; and the release by the North Vietnamese of prisoners of war.
How many Australians served during the Vietnam War?
About 60,000 Australian military personnel served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1973.
The first to serve were 30 members of the Australian Army Vietnam Training Team who arrived in Vietnam in July/August 1962. This grew to a battalion in 1965 and a task force by 1966. Australia's last combat troops left in March 1972 and the last Australian troops to leave were members of the Saigon Embassy Guard platoon who pulled out on 30 June 1973. Although additional service personnel returned in 1975 to assist with evacuations.
How many Australians were killed or wounded in the Vietnam War?
More than 520 Australians died in the war and around 3,000 were evacuated with wounds, injuries, or illness.
Were Australians conscripted to serve in Vietnam?
Yes. The Australian Government introduced a scheme of selective conscription known as national service in November 1964. Under the National Service Act 1964 selective conscription meant that a certain number of 20-year-old Australian men would be chosen to serve in the Australian Army. The Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force did not use the scheme for Vietnam.
How many men were conscripted during the Vietnam War?
Between 1965 and December 1972 some 15,381 National Servicemen served with the Australian Army in Vietnam. Under the National Service Scheme, Australian men aged 20 years were required to register with the Department of Labour and National Service (DLNS) for ballots that would select men for two years' fulltime service (reduced to 18 months in 1971). Over the years some 804,286 young men registered. Two ballots were drawn each year and in total 63,735 were selected for service. Most did not serve in Vietnam but instead served in the Australian Army in Borneo; Malaysia; Papua-New Guinea or in support units in Australia. Of those who served in Vietnam some 200 died in the war.
How were conscripts selected for service?
Choosing men to serve in the National Service Scheme was like a lottery. Numbered marbles, each representing a day of the year were placed in a barrel and a set number were then drawn randomly by hand one at a time. If the number picked corresponded to the day of the year on which a person was born they were required to present themselves for national service. The draw was generally referred to as the Birthday Ballot.
How old did you have to be conscripted for the Vietnam War?
Under the National Service Scheme 20-year-old men were required to register for the ballot that would randomly select men for two years fulltime service with the Australian Army, although not all would be sent to Vietnam.
What did the Australian Navy do in the Vietnam War?
As well as ferrying men to and from the logistics base at Vung Tau in Vietnam the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) had other important roles. Ships on the "gunline" provided naval gunfire against ground targets in support of Australian and United States (US) troops, while RAN clearance divers kept harbours and shipping lanes safe from enemy mines and attacks by enemy frogmen. They also disposed of unexploded ordnance.
Navy's helicopter crews also flew combat operations as part of the RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam (RANFV) attached to the US Army 135th Assault Helicopter Company, and a detachment of naval aircrew also served with No. 9 Squadron RAAF flying the Bell UH-1B Iroquois or "Huey".
What was the Vung Tau Ferry?
Vung Tau Ferry was the nickname given to HMAS Sydney (III), a former aircraft carrier converted to serve in the Royal Australian Navy as a fast troop transport.
What was the Royal Australian Air Force's role during the Vietnam War?
One of the early roles for the RAAF in the Vietnam War was to provide air support for troop ships against possible sea attack by "a national power sympathetic" to the North Vietnamese. RAAF crew also played a significant role in transport with the Caribou STOL transport aircraft of RAAF Transport Flight Vietnam (later No. 35 Squadron RAAF) and in combat roles with the "Hueys" of No. 9 Squadron RAAF and the Canberra bombers of No. 2 Squadron RAAF. In July 1966, RAAF fighter pilots also began serving as airborne forward air controllers (FACs) flying United States Airforce planes to provide support to allied ground forces by directing strike aircraft against enemy targets on the ground.
VIETNAM WAR COLLECTIONS
Some 60,000 Australians served in the Vietnam War - on land, in the air and at sea. Find and share your story with these quality Vietnam commemorative products designed to honour the service of the brave young men and women who were called to war.
Vietnam War 50th anniversary collection
We are honoured to support the Australian Government's 2023 commemorations marking 50th anniversary of the end of Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War the production of the official 50th Anniversary Commemorative Medallion. Our knowledge of military design and history has helped create a masterful keepsake that will be treasured through the generations.
With the official commemorative medallion strictly limited to either the Veteran, or a surviving family member, we have also created a series of stunning linked mementos that can also be shared across community and family, worn to show your pride, and passed through the ages.
Vietnam War Tri-Colour collection
In 2020 we released this stunningly simple collection to bring together the elements of the Australian Navy, Army, and Air Force in a single idea that reflected the full commitment of Australian services to the Vietnam War. Fittingly we married this collection with imagery of the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial in Canberra.
Vietnam War Figurine Collection
Figurines, and the meticulous eye for detail they require, are one of our most challenging, yet most satisfying, creations. From the uniforms, weapons and attitudes of our diggers, these designs truly capture the times of our then young servicemen.
50th Anniversary of the Battle of Coral-Balmoral collection
In 2018 the 1 RAR Association asked for a special collection to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the 1968 Battles of Coral and Balmoral where, between 12 May and 6 June 1968, Australia's Fire Support Bases at Coral and Balmoral endured some of the biggest and most sustained battles of Australian forces during the Vietnam War. It was about pride in service for those who were there, their regiments today, and for the families.
Read the names of every Australian who served in the Vietnam Conflict in this rare and insightful look at the times, the people, and the long lasting impacts the war had on Australian society. This updated edition of Vietnam Remembered remembers every veteran and their service to our country. A proud memory of mates and family. Order now
We Served with Pride Vietnam War Collection
This stunning series from 2009 was created to reflect our national commitment to the Vietnam War and was our first to highlight the service of Army, Air Force and civilian nurses. It depicts iconic images cast in antiqued bronze with enamel ribbons of the Australian Active Service Medal 45-75, the Vietnam Medal, the Australian Defence Medal and the Vietnamese Campaign Medal.
Vietnam War Combined Arms Contact Collection
In 2013 we engaged renowned military artist, Drew Harrison, and military historian and author Graham Wilson, to create a detailed original artwork which showed the difference armour, artillery and air support can make when united in a combined force. From their creation we delivered a truly inspired and historic collection to share the story of Vietnam and service.
COLOURS OF Vietnam War Collection
Veterans and family have always been proud to wear their Vietnam campaign ribbons. This skilfully crafted 2011 design uses the Vietnam map and campaign medal ribbons, as well as dramatic images of Australian Forces Vietnam National Memorial, to share that pride.
Vietnam Infantry "J" Bear
The limited-edition Vietnam Infantry "J" Bear was created in 2016 at the request of many community members who wanted something for children to remember their family's service. We kitted him out in typical "Jungle Greens" complete with "Giggle" hat and M1956 Individual Load Carrying Equipment. The last of these stunning little fellows was homed long ago but you can read more about him here.
Vietnam War Books Collection
Our reading collection includes a superb selection of Vietnam related books that reach into the personal accounts of men in battle; command under fire; military tactics and operations; and links to our military heritage and national history. Great works by those who understand service and the personal cost of war, including personal accounts of Vietnam from the likes of Harry Smith; Ian MacKay, Peter Scott; Dave Morgan and others. We are proud to support the sharing of their knowledge.
AUSTRALIAN ARMY TRAINING TEAM VIETNAM COLLECTION
In 2012 we created a special collection to mark the 50th Anniversary of the 1962 deployment of the first Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV). This deployment was the start of Australia's commitment to the Vietnam War and the AATTV will always be remembered as an elite handpicked team who remain one of the most highly decorated Units in the history of the Australian Army.
Battle of Long Tan 50th Anniversary Collection
The 1966 Battle of Long Tan has a special place in the story of Vietnam. The date of this battle, August 18, is now our annual Vietnam Veteran's Day, and the Long Tan Cross erected at the site the following year to honour the fallen, has come to symbolise service and sacrifice in Vietnam. The help of decorated veterans of this battle, Harry Smith SG,MC and Dave Sabben MG, helped make this 50th anniversary collection a true reflection of the times and the courage of our fighting men.
Our War in Vietnam 50th Anniversary 1962-2012
This landmark collection from 2012 commemorated the 50 Anniversary of Australia's commitment to the Vietnam War. While the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam 's small contingent marked the start of our war in Vietnam, this collection reflects the broader war years and captures Australia's land, air and sea power.