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Thursday, 24 Apr 2014

Seymour offers us all an ANZAC contemplation of Australians at war

They gave their lives.
They gave their lives.


Pun intended GoSeeAustralia stumbled on Seymour's Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk.

It is in High Street at the junction of Emily Street and Tallarook Street, Seymour, Victoria. We were heading for Wagga Wagga and the Easter Stone the Crows Festival when an overnight stop at the pretty Victorian town with a beautiful railway station became the sensible thing to do.

Frankly we were buggered by a late start from Melbourne's south eastern suburbs and the stress which now passes for normal in getting across Melbourne and out to the Hume Highway.

We needed a good feed, a few drinks and a long sleep.

The 150 year old Prince of Wales Pub we found has fair dinkum country size meals, but we were a little early so we set off to see Seymour and found the Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk.


Soldiering on
Soldiering on


The Mitchell sub branch of the Vietnam Veterans Association is the source of the commemorative walk project born in 2005 in collaboration with the Mitchell Shire Council.

It is a work still in progress and GoSeeAustralia met and talked to Vietnam Veterans as we took in the dedicated project.

Vietnam was part of GSA's youth. Your marble dropped and you were in; or it didn't. It was a volatile time. It brought truckloads of pain. Some of that lingers still.

The Commemorative Walk is a positive force. This is not a traditional memorial. It is not intended to be. It belongs equally to the Vietnam Veterans and also to those who opposed Australia's involvement.

The Walk has been created using symbolic elements of Vietnam and 106 DigiGlass panels are inscribed with 60,000 names of every serviceman and servicewoman who served in the conflict. Eleven tracker dogs are included too with an image of Justin and his Digger mate handling the hot climate.

Seymour has a proud military history going back to the Boer War and the major training facility Puckapunyal is 12km west of town. There is more to be done on the Commemorative project and Stage 3 will include the installation of further artifacts and the building of car and caravan parking with a dump point on the eastern end of the Walk.

Vietnam is now our second longest war. The Australian War Memorial says Australia's military involvement in the Vietnam War is second only to the  nations commitment to Afghanistan.


GSA1 visits Vietnam Memorial  Wall Seymour
GSA1 visits Vietnam Memorial Wall Seymour


Almost 60,000 Australians, including ground troops and Air Force and Navy personnel, served in Vietnam; 521 died as a result of the war and over 3,000 were wounded.

The war was the cause of the greatest social and political dissent in Australia since the conscription referendums of the First World War.

Many draft resisters, conscientious objectors, and protesters were fined or jailed, while soldiers met a hostile reception on their return home.

The arrival of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) in South Vietnam, also known as "the Team" during July and August 1962 was the beginning of Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War.

Australia's participation in the war was formally declared at an end when the Governor-General issued a proclamation on 11 January 1973. The only combat troops remaining in Vietnam were a platoon guarding the Australian embassy in Saigon, which was withdrawn in June 1973.

The Australian commitment consisted predominantly of army personnel, but significant numbers of Air Force and Navy personnel and some civilians also took part, The Australian War Memorial says.

In August 1966 a company of 6RAR was engaged in one of Australia's heaviest actions of the war, in a rubber plantation near Long Tan. The 108 soldiers of D Coy held off an enemy force, estimated at over 2000, for four hours in the middle of a tropical downpour.

When the Viet Cong withdrew at night fall they left behind 245 dead, but carried away many more casualties. Seventeen Australians were killed and 25 wounded, with one dying of wounds several days later.


Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk Seymour
Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk Seymour


The year 1968 began with a major offensive by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army, launched during the Vietnamese lunar new year holiday period, known as "Tet".

Not only the timing but the scale of the offensive came as a complete surprise, taking in cities, towns, and military installations throughout South Vietnam.

By late 1970 Australia had also begun to wind down its military effort in Vietnam. The 8th Battalion departed in November (and was not replaced), but, to make up for the decrease in troop numbers, the Team's strength was increased and its efforts became concentrated in Phuoc Tuy province.

The withdrawal of troops and all air units continued throughout 1971 – the last battalion left Nui Dat on 7 November, while a handful of advisers belonging to the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) remained in Vietnam the following year, The Australian War Memorial says.

In December 1972 they became the last Australian troops to come home, with their unit having seen continuous service in South Vietnam for ten and a half years.

Australia's participation in the war was formally declared at an end when the Governor-General issued a proclamation on 11 January 1973. The only combat troops remaining in Vietnam were a platoon guarding the Australian embassy in Saigon (this was withdrawn in June 1973).


How to view the Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk  wall
How to view the Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk wall


The Australian War Memorial reports that total Australian service casualities in the Vietnam War, 1962 - 72 were:

Total Australian service casualties: Died 500. Wounded, injured, ill 3,129. The total of 500 deaths comprises 426 battle casualties and 74 non-battle casualties.

Australian Army battle casualties were: Killed in action, Regular Army 172, National Servicemen 143, Citizens Military Forces 1 total 316. Killed accidentally total 25. Died of wounds 68. Died of injury illness 3. Missing presumed dead 1. Drowned 1.

Wounded in Action: Regular Army 1,140, National Servicemen 880, Citizens Military Forces 6, total 2,026. Wounded accidentally, total 180.Injured, ill in battle total 142.

Totals by category: 414 killed in battle, 2,348 wounded in battle.

Editors note: Source: Appendix F, "Statistics", Ian McNeil and Ashley Ekins, On the offensive: the Australian Army in the Vietnam War 1967–1968 (Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2003)

Since Operations in Afghanistan commenced in 2002, the Australian Defence Force has suffered 40 combat deaths and 260 wounded in action. Two Australian Government civilians have also been wounded. Further details at: http://www.defence.gov.au/operations/afghanistan/personnel.asp (If the link does not open cut and past into your browser). If Google Chrome fails try Mozilla Firefox. Some links on the Defence website lead to information which needs updating.

For more information
contact: Garth Morrison
Editor Go See Australia and Go See New Zealand Directory
Email: garth@contact.com.au
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Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk Seymour
Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk Seymour



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