Image copyright: © Australian War Memorial,
Creative Commons License This image is licensed under CC BY-NC

ID number ART40666
Title Task Force, Nui Dat
Collection Art
Object type Painting
Artist McFadyen, Ken
Place made Vietnam
Date made 1967
Medium oil on canvas on hardboard
Measurement overall: 61.5 x 97.1 cm; framed: 82 x 117 cm


A landscape showing the banana trees and jungle in the area around Nui Dat.

Ken McFadyen was a printmaker and painter using oil, watercolour and acrylic and was a member of several art societies in Australia and New Zealand. Ken McFadyen was granted six months leave from his position as a Senior Artist with the Australian Broadcasting Commission in 1967-68 to take up his appointment as an official war artist. He served in Vietnam's Southern Zone from 13/8/67 until 12/3/68 as Hon. Lieut. RCMF (RAAEC), S. Comd, army no. 350590 in Phuoc Tuy Province.


Like Bruce Fletcher, the first official war artist in Vietnam, McFadyen did jungle warfare training at Canungra, Queensland, before travelling to Vietnam. McFadyen and Fletcher were expected to perform as combat soldiers if required. McFadyen arrived in Vietnam in mid-August 1967 and served there for seven months. During that time he was posted at the 1st Australian Task Force base at Nui Dat, but he made frequent visits to the 1st Australian Logistical Support Group base at Vung Tau on the coast. He also briefly joined the RAN destroyer HMAS Hobart while it patrolled off the North Vietnamese coast. Despite the uncomfortable physical and climactic conditions, McFadyen was able to produce finely detailed drawings of activities on the bases, as well as some large, technically accurate drawings of helicopters and Caribou transport aircraft. After his return to Australia McFadyen continued to work on his Vietnam paintings for the Memorial. Later he received a further commission to produce a large commemorative painting of an action involving HMAS Murchison on the Han River during the Korean War.