Title: Vietnam Collection 1962-1974
Scope and content note: The Vietnam Collection consists of a range of printed media associated with and produced during Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War between 1962 and 1972. The majority of the collection is material produced by Australia, America and the Vietnamese for distribution to their servicemen and civilians. The collection includes propaganda material, anti-war material, articles about the war, and souvenirs collected by servicemen.
Provenance: The Vietnam collection comes from a variety of sources, with the majority of the items having come from donations.
Extent: The collection consists of approximately 500 items, housed in 8 folders, 2 postcard folders, and 1 oversize box.
Location: Published and Digitised Collections, Research Centre, Australian War Memorial.
Related collections: Map Collection: Vietnam
Processing history: Records transferred to the Australian War Memorial
Publication rights: Contact the Senior Curator, Published and Digitised Collections
Copyright: Contact the Senior Curator, Published and Digitised Collections
Preferred citation: Vietnam Formed Collection, Published and Digitised Collections, Australian War Memorial
Vietnam War 1962-1972
Australian support for South Vietnam arrived during July and August 1962 and marks the beginning of Australia's involvement in the war in Vietnam. By early 1965 it became clear that South Vietnam could not stave off the communist insurgents and their North Vietnamese comrades for more than a few months. The US commenced a major escalation of the war, which included more Australian regiments. The following year the Australian government's concern grew to the point where it felt that, if Australia were involved in the conflict, its presence should be both strong and identifiable, and more troops were sent. August 1966 saw one of Australia's heaviest actions of the war near Long Tan. During 1968 US military planners began to question whether a decisive victory could ever be achieved, and by 1969 anti-war protests were gathering momentum in Australia. Opposition to conscription mounted as more people came to believe that the war could not be won.
By late 1970 Australia had begun to wind down its military effort in Vietnam. The withdrawal of troops and all air units continued throughout 1971. In December 1972 the last Australian troops came home. Australia's participation in the war was formally declared at an end when the Governor-General issued a proclamation on 11 January 1973. From the time of Australia's arrival in 1962, some 50,000 Australians, including ground troops and Air Force and Navy personnel, served in Vietnam. 520 of those died as a result of the war, and almost 2,400 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 had been fined or gaoled, while soldiers sometimes met a hostile reception on their return home.
The majority of the collection is published material in various media produced by Australia, America and the Vietnamese for distribution to their servicemen and civilians. The collection reflects Australia's involvement in the Vietnam war, and includes material opposed to that involvement, material on the issues of conscription, and anti-war material. The collection also includes propaganda material, articles about the war, and souvenirs collected by servicemen.
The bulk of the collection consists of leaflets. Those published in Australian consist of those produced by military bodies for recruitment, anti-war material by various organisations and committees, and include protests against conscription, and publications by various moratorium campaigns. The collection also consists of material opposing the war, and psychological warfare leaflets. Leaflets produced in America are primarily psychological warfare leaflets published for distribution throughout Vietnam. Other American leaflets represent the subjects of conscription and remembrance. Leaflets produced in South Vietnam are also represented. Though largely untranslated, most address allied servicemen and civilians. Small posters and leaflets from both Great Britain and Canada are also represented, mainly with anti-war and anti-American themes.
The pamphlet collection has representations from Australia, America, Great Britain, South Vietnam, and communist productions. Themes include material addressing allied nations' involvement in the Vietnam War, information about individual incidents in Vietnam, the Viet Cong, and material addressing revolutionary development in Vietnam. Souvenirs include material of a memorial and commemorative nature, along with mementos from special functions and establishments, many of which visited on R & R, and tourist souvenirs. The collection also consists of newspaper articles, booklets, journals, cartoons and illustrations related to the war in Vietnam, both during the conflict and in the years after. Other printed material includes stickers, postcards, philately, posters and unpublished manuscripts and memoirs.