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.
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.
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Read some digitised news clips about Australian troops spending Christmas in Vietnam:
- 1966 Vietnam Christmas, The Canberra Times, 20 December, p12. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article106953071
- 1967 GREETINGS FROM BOYS IN VIETNAM, The Australian Women's Weekly, 27 December, p17. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47472309
- 1968 Tinsel gifts in Vietnam, The Canberra Times, 20 December, p11. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article136962247
- 1969 MESSAGES FROM VIETNAM, The Australian Women's Weekly, 31 December, p19. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article44027573
- 1970 FOR CHRISTMAS IN VIETNAM, The Biz, 23 December, p3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article195857294
Watch these old films made by the Australian Army Public Relations Service in the Australian War Memorial collection: