An Australian Christmas while serving in the Vietnam War

Serving overseas during conflicts, away from family and friends, is not easy. At certain times of the year, such as Christmas, it can be even more challenging. Now, imagine back to a time without email, mobile phones and video calls. Letters to and from home were very important during the Vietnam War. Newer technologies, such as audio tapes and television programs, also helped. Two Vietnam veterans shared their personal reflections on an unusual Christmas in the jungle.

Edward Miskiewicz, a veteran of the Royal Australian Infantry Corps, reflected on Christmas in 1969:

Yes, we got Christmas mail, and I got a Christmas cake and a couple of little presents in the mail - parcels and little knick-knacks. It was nice to receive them over there.

2 soldiers decorate a small shrub with tinsel

Members of the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR), decorate a rubber tree with Christmas tinsel at their base in Vietnam, December 1967. AWM CRO/67/1244/VN

Man dressed in military shirt standing in a room with 4 muslin-wrapped puddings hanging from a string line

A member of the Australian Army Catering Corps hangs fruit puddings to mature for Christmas, South Vietnam, December 1971. AWM FOD/71/0615/VN

A group of soldiers gather around a table loaded with food goods

A member of the 5th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, shares Christmas treats sent to him in Vietnam from Australia, December 1966. AWM COL/66/1010/VN

Wayne Laurence Brown, veteran of the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps and national serviceman, reflected on Christmas in 1968:

But we ended up getting a Christmas lunch brought out to us in a helicopter, and we had cold turkey and salad and a bun and a hot beer and a soft drink. It was different. We took pictures of each other, and we got the shaving cream out of the special pack and put fake snow on our hoochies and hung a few things around and had a few smokes. I think the officers brought around coffee and rum to serve the troops, and I had never had rum before, and I couldn't drink coffee, so I had a cup of tea with rum in it.

A soldier hands out parcels to small children

A member of the 110th Signal Squadron detachment and a local worker distribute Christmas gifts to orphans in Saigon, Vietnam, 25 December 1969. AWM LES/69/0845/VN

A crew gathers on the deck of a ship

Crew members conduct Christmas prayers aboard HMAS Vendetta (II) during their deployment to Vietnam, December 1969. NAVY20904

Two topless soldiers  open boxes of goods

Men of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment open their Christmas parcels from the Australian Forces Overseas Fund to the 1st Australian Task Force at Nui Dat, Vietnam, December 1969. AWM WAR/70/0009/VN

A nurse and and injured patient admire a large cake in a courtyard area

An Australian Army nurse and her patient admire a Christmas cake sent to troops at Vung Tau in Vietnam by the 1st Mitchell Park Scout Group of South Australia, December 1967. AWM CRO/67/1226/VN

A large crowd gather sitting on the ground with candles and looking at pieces of paper in their hands

Airmen of the RAAF contingent gather to sing Christmas carols at the Vung Tau Special Zone, Vietnam, 24 December 1966. AWM VN/66/0110/05

Soldier places cards and a santa decoration on a pile of sandbags

A member of the 31st Divisional Locating Battery decorates his bunker with Christmas telegrams and a plastic Santa Claus at Fire Support Base Julia, South Vietnam, in December 1968. AWM BUL/68/1100/VN

Engage more with this topic

Read some digitised news clips about Australian troops spending Christmas in Vietnam:

Watch these old films made by the Australian Army Public Relations Service in the Australian War Memorial collection:


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Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) ( ), An Australian Christmas while serving in the Vietnam War, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 21 June 2024, https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/wars-and-missions/vietnam-war-1962-1975/events/christmas
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