Tag Archives: War

A Vietnam War Christmas

This collection of images shows Australian soldiers celebrating Christmas in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s.

Australia committed approximately 61 000 troops to the Vietnam War between 1962 and 1972 (and again occasionally until 1975), including many thousands of conscripts.

All the photographs are from the collection of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

December 1971. South Vietnam.

Private David McColl of Canberra, hanging puddings to mature before Christmas.

Christmas_in_Vietnam,_1971_(3116643779)South Vietnam. Private (Pte) David McColl of Page in Canberra ACT, hanging puddings to mature before Christmas

December 1967. Nui Dat, Vietnam.

Newly arrived members of 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR), preparing their base camp for the Christmas season.

Christmas_in_Vietnam,_1967_(3117470156)Nui Dat, Vietnam. 1967-12. Newly arrived members of 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR), preparing their base camp for the Christma

November 1970. Nui Dat, South Vietnam.

Corporal Arthur Wallis, 21, sharpening a knife in preparation for carving the three prime hams he has prepared for Christmas.

Christmas_at_Nui_Dat,_1970_(3116643487)Nui Dat, South Vietnam. November 1970. Corporal Arthur Wallis, 21, of Preston, Vic, sharpening a knife in preparation for carving the three prime h

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Russia fires on and seizes Ukrainian ships.

Here’s your Monday reminder that Russia is still actively invading and committing acts of war against Ukraine, and that tweets from Trump’s toilet aren’t the most important thing happening in the world right now…

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photograph released by Russia's FSB security agency apparently showing an altercation between Russian and Ukrainian ships of the coast of Crimea on November 25 2018

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Poppies for Remembrance Day – 100 Years

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Thousands of Poppies First world War One Sonya Heaney 11th November 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra.

Thousands and thousands of handmade poppies at the Australian War Memorial for Remembrance Day, and a hundred years since the end of the First World War. Australia committed to the war before Britain even declared it, and Canberra turned on a sunny, hot, blue-skied, beautiful day for the occasion.

Because I live in Canberra, love history, and have a military father, I visit the War Memorial quite often. However, today was special, and because I’ve been overseas for much of the past few months, and today was the last day to see all the poppies before they go, (there are poppies at Parliament House, too, but they’re there for another week), I had to visit.

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Long Tan Cross

Because I live in Canberra and have a former military father (and love history!), I spend quite a lot of time at the Australian War Memorial.

I went with my father today, half because of the occasion (one hundred years since the First World War ended) – to see the thousands and thousands of handmade poppies in the garden out the front (today was the last day for the exhibition), and half because I’m currently working on the memoirs of a Military Cross-winning Vietnam veteran (my father’s commander in the war), and he was heavily involved in the Long Tan dedication ceremony.

Long Tan is by far the most famous (infamous?) battle in Australia’s involvement in Vietnam, and my father knows people in the iconic photograph.

The cross arrived at the War Memorial not all that long ago, and this is the first time I’ve seen it in its special new room. Unfortunately that room – as they tried to make it a quiet place for reflection – is practically hidden, and I think most visitors will miss it…

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Ten Years

180719-georgia-russia-war-mc-1152_e6ddd220a0947b75d9788a50ec3a9a17_fit-560wGeorgian soldiers escape a burning armoured vehicle in August 2008. Russian Invasion

Today is the tenth anniversary of the Russian invasion of Georgia. Russia still occupies parts of the country, and landowners on the fake new borders report having more of their property stolen every day – it’s a slow motion invasion the world has completely forgotten about.

As with Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine, ethnic cleansing is taking place in occupied Georgia, and the Russians are destroying all evidence of local people’s culture and history. Historic buildings are being torn down. (A Crimean Tatar set himself on fire in protest the other day – on camera; nobody in the world reported it.)

Georgia was Putin’s test run for his invasion of Ukraine. Taking place just after Obama came to power, he learnt that world leaders wouldn’t act on Russian aggression.

Even though it’s not really needed for diplomatic purposes, Georgia maintains an embassy here in Canberra, to remind people in the South Pacific why they shouldn’t be doing trade with the Kremlin (Fiji and New Zealand, I’m looking at you!).

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Four Years

Kyiv Ukraine Euromaidan Memorials Sonya Heaney May 2016

A memorial to the dead I photographed in 2016.

Today is the fourth anniversary of the end of Ukraine’s Euromaidan revolution. On the 20th of February, 2014 pro-Russian snipers took to the streets and shot and killed as many civilians as they could manage.

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Snipers in the same spot the memorials are now.

The revolution resulted in overthrowing the corrupt, dictatorial oligarch in charge of the country, but he fled to Russia and paved the way for Putin’s invasion shortly afterwards.

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So…

Another year of Russian aggression, and another year our Christmas cards to relatives cannot reach the warzone where Russia is still invading Ukraine (not that it makes the news anymore!).

I can’t even begin to explain how angry I am with everyone declaring 2016 the “Worst Year Ever” just because of Brexit and Trump. There’re TWO MILLION Ukrainian refugees (while countries like Germany – European countries – take in so many Middle Eastern refugees, they will not help Ukrainians).

Several of my Ukrainian family members have died since Putin invaded, but nobody could care less about Russian aggression until it was Britain and America who suffered.

Personally, I think of 2016 as the year of selfishness. It’s only the “Worst” year if you usually just watch reality TV.

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Australian War Memorial Canberra

We had a public holiday today. I think it used to be the Melbourne Cup holiday, but the ACT Government moved it and renamed it. Whatever it is, it’s just an excuse to not go to work!

I went with my parents to the Australian War Memorial here in Canberra, which – despite being called a “memorial” – is actually a huge war museum to rival those anywhere else in the world.

The first picture is of some of the Victoria Cross soldiers’ uniforms. The one on the left belongs to giant SAS Special Forces soldier Ben Roberts-Smith. I had to get a blurry photo just because it’s so huge!

It was SO crowded today, with a gazillion tour bus-loads of visitors. It’s interesting watching people who have never been there before. There were actually people today who were walking around crying, that’s how moved they were.

My father is a war veteran, so we occasionally drop by and just look at a couple of things (usually things involving the Vietnam War) and then go for a glass of wine! It’s free, so it’s easy to do. However, this is the first time I’ve been where they had a teeny bit of security at the entrance.

The main reason we went is because Mephisto, a World War One tank, is on loan to the museum at the moment, and we hadn’t seen it before.

What’s really upsetting is that at the entrance there’s a boat from the Gallipoli landings, and every time we go there, everyone is running their hands all over it, despite being told not to. It’s astonishing how disrespectful people can be to such important historical pieces.

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Battle of Long Tan in Canberra

My Vietnam veteran father attended the fiftieth anniversary commemoration for the Battle of Long Tan in Canberra today. He knew people there, but the battle took place two years before he arrived in Vietnam.

He was the organiser for the Battle of Binh Ba commemoration a few years ago (which he did fight in), which took place at the same spot (the Vietnam memorial on Anzac Parade, running down from the Australian War Memorial).

When my father and another veteran went out to lunch, a woman saw their medals and paid for the whole thing. They didn’t know until after she had gone!

Here are his unedited pictures from today.

It was a gorgeous day, and the military flyovers came straight over our house, but I couldn’t make it to the actual event this time.

Battle of Long Tan Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration Christopher Heaney Sonya Heaney 18th August 2016 Canberra Australia Anzac ParadeDSCN8164

Battle of Long Tan Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration Christopher Heaney Sonya Heaney 18th August 2016 Canberra Australia Anzac ParadeDSCN8155

Battle of Long Tan Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration Christopher Heaney Sonya Heaney 18th August 2016 Canberra Australia Anzac ParadeDSCN8208

Battle of Long Tan Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration Christopher Heaney Sonya Heaney 18th August 2016 Canberra Australia Anzac ParadeDSCN8186

Battle of Long Tan Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration Christopher Heaney Sonya Heaney 18th August 2016 Canberra Australia Anzac ParadeDSCN8223

Battle of Long Tan Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration Christopher Heaney Sonya Heaney 18th August 2016 Canberra Australia Anzac ParadeDSCN8195

Battle of Long Tan Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration Christopher Heaney Sonya Heaney 18th August 2016 Canberra Australia Anzac ParadeDSCN8142

Battle of Long Tan Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration Christopher Heaney Sonya Heaney 18th August 2016 Canberra Australia Anzac ParadeDSCN8213

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The world is almost okay again.

What I am sure most of you are unaware of is that the moment Ukraine named a Crimean Tatar singer as their Eurovision entry, Russia applied to have Ukraine banned from the song contest.

Ukraine didn’t even enter after Russia invaded, and that year, Russia nearly won. Ukrainians were being massacred, and Europeans were voting for the people responsible for it!

So this win is a Major, MAJOR win against Vladimir Putin’s propaganda campaign and ongoing invasion.

Also funny that if the runner-up had won, next year Eurovision would have been hosted in my hometown, Canberra! (Unless there’s some rule the competition cannot leave Europe.)

Why did anyone vote for Australia? We have no business being in the contest!

However, it makes me sick to my stomach that Russia came close to winning – for the second year in a row. People who voted for Russia: do you remember these words: Georgia, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin, Moldova, Syria, gay rights, human rights? Obviously not.

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