Armidale and Guyra pause to remember on Vietnam Veterans Day

Friday marks the 51 years since 18 Australians lost their lives in the Battle of Long Tan.

Armidale’s 1 APC Squadron member Doug Lennox.

Armidale’s 1 APC Squadron member Doug Lennox.

And on that August day in 1966, Armidale’s 1 APC Squadron member Doug Lennox was in Nui Dat.

Three Delta Company platoons had just entered the biggest battle Australian soldiers were involved in, since World War II.

“We sent out a relief force to help,” Mr Lennox said.

“They say that it saved the men … I’m not sure if it did or not.”

The battle saw just over 100 men from the 1st Australian Task Force front a Viet Cong force of thousands.

Mr Lennox was also involved in Operation Bribie, also known as the Battle of Ap My An on February 17, 1967.

“I did lose my best mate there,” he said.

PAUSING TO REMEMBER: Armidale’s 1 APC Squadron member Doug Lennox was in Nui Dat when the Battle of Long Tan broke out, 51 years ago. Photo: Rachel Baxter.

PAUSING TO REMEMBER: Armidale’s 1 APC Squadron member Doug Lennox was in Nui Dat when the Battle of Long Tan broke out, 51 years ago. Photo: Rachel Baxter.

More than 50 years on, Mr Lennox said works to revamp the memorial at Central Park, to honour those who had lost their lives in all wars, were almost complete.

Friday marks one year since seven new plaques were established.

I did lose my best mate there. - Doug Lennox

“The initial fountain was for World War I,” Mr Lennox said.

“Then they opened the rotunda in honour of the Boer War boys.”

And then for several decades nothing more was done, Mr Lennox said.

“For World War II they just put plaques on the World War I memorial,” he said.

“When I got out of the army in 1996 I asked the RSL to put a plaque up for the Vietnam Veterans.”

But efforts at the time were unsuccessful.

“Twenty years later we finally convinced the Council to put it in near the fountain,” he said.

Armidale RSL Sub Branch president Max Tavener says works on the memorial are nearing completion.

Armidale RSL Sub Branch president Max Tavener says works on the memorial are nearing completion.

The first plaque put in last year was to acknowledge those who served and died in Vietnam.

Since then, six more plaques covering all wars were established. 

“Korea onwards had never been mentioned, so we went for the whole lot – right up to Afghanistan,” he said.

The HMAS Armidale memorial will also move to within the fountain memorial.

The nativity scene structure has also been demolished to “bring the park back to its heritage state”.

Sub Branch President and Navy Veteran Max Tavener said he was looking forward to the works finally being completed.

He also said Friday was a chance for the city to honour some 30 Vietnam Veterans in the district who are still alive, and remember those who have passed on.

“It’s a day to come together and respect those who were killed in the Vietnam War,” he said. 

The memorial revamp is expected to be complete by Remembrance Day.

The branch will hold Friday’s remembrance ceremony by the fountain at 11am.

Seven new memorial plaques near the World War I cenotaph in Armidale’s Central Park.

Seven new memorial plaques near the World War I cenotaph in Armidale’s Central Park.

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