NATIONAL VIETNAM VETERANS MUSEUM
This page was updated on 1 December 2020.
During a visit to the National Vietnam Veterans Museum in 2010, Robert Birtles and John Bilston (5 RAR association members) noted that some battalions had created displays dedicated to their involvement in the Vietnam War.
As with many others, 5 RAR was not represented, so a quick fix was created comprising photo frames of 5 RARís honour roll, battalion operations, Lieutenant Colonel John Warr and the Associations plaque. They were installed as a temporary display, along with the book Vietnam Task (5 RAR) by Robert OíNeill and related DVDs for the museum library.
In order to rectify the lack of representation, a meeting was held with John Methven ó founder and then-president of the National Vietnam Veterans Museum. John generously allocated 5RAR ample space in a prime position that would enable the erection of a comprehensive display. Within months the first display was built using framed photos, a banner and videos. However, it was still lacking detailed information about the 5 RARís activities during the War.
Although the display was sufficient at the time, the Museumís goal was to become accredited which required additional space and adherence to State (Vic) standards. This necessitated a review of the ground floor layout. The result was the relocation of the original display (along with other RAR displays) to a dedicated area, albeit still located on the ground floor. This provided a good opportunity to develop the display so Robert Birtles set about redesigning and building the current display. The display was completed in 2016. Its location is now home of most battalion displays within the museum.
The central part of the revised display provides information about 5 RAR command, battle honour, individual awards, battalion activities and operations (1st and 2nd Tours).
This is supported by two photo collages representing soldiers, equipment, places and experiences.
Supporting the central display are side panels and floor cabinets that illustrate wounded soldiers being evacuated from the Nui Thi Vai mountains, the Battle of Binh Ba, Awards, the Roll of Honour, videos, slide show as well as photographs supported with information and/or commentary are also featured.
Photos were supplied by Robert Birtles, Terry Tommasi, Gary Townsend, Neil Ordner and David Wilkins from their personal collections.
David Wilkins provided comprehensive information which helped detail the 2nd tour.
The Association president, Roger Wainwright donated a distinctive 5 RAR banner.
Gary Townsend provided several DVDs which were added to the Museumís collection that can be viewed in the refreshment area.
However not all was complete. Apart from internal displays, the Museum had created an outdoor reflection garden where various units that served in the Vietnam War placed memorials.
As 5 RAR was not represented, the Association arranged for a bronze plaque to be produced then erected in the most prominent section of the garden. The plaque dedication was conducted by the association President, Roger Wainwright on the 24th of April 2017 during the C Company reunion in Melbourne.
In summary much has been achieved. However, the display needs to evolve, thus new material or ideas are welcome. Please note that the museum doesnít wish to display photos that may cause individuals, children or family members stress so the museum needs to check any donated items before displaying them.
If you would like to visit the Australian Vietnam Veterans' Museum, it is located at; 25 Veterans Drive (formerly Churchill Rd South), Newhaven, Phillip Island, VIC, 3925, and you can visit their website at, www.vietnamvetsmuseum.org/ or »Click Here.«.