Vietnam 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Medallions

These six limited edition proof quality medallions are minted from brass alloy and finished in highly polished silver and feature photo quality detailed artworks of celebrated Australian artists. The reverse of the medallions features the Vietnam 50th Insignia with the Vietnam campaign ribbons and the words Courage - Service - Mateship. The medallions are available individually or as a set of six.

VERY LOW MINTAGE

No more than 1000 of each individual medallion and 1000 sets will be released. Each comes with a numbered certificate of authenticity. Medallion size 50mm x 4.5mm thick.

View all our Vietnam Collections

SIGNALS



McFadyen, Ken, 'Signals in Vietnam', 1978, oil on canvas, 181.5 x 121 cm. This painting is displayed in the foyer of the Australian Defence Force School of Signals at Simpson Barracks in Macleod, Victoria, and is reproduced with the permission of the Head of Corps, Royal Australian Corps of Signals

About The Artist
Ken McFadyen
1939-1998

Ken McFadyen was born in Preston, Victoria in 1939. He studied at the National Gallery School from 1954 to 1960.
While working as a set designer at the Australian Broadcasting Commission in 1967, McFadyen was appointed an official war artist to cover the Australian involvement in the Vietnam War. 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, not just wield their paintbrushes.

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.

Painting and drawing while on patrol was even more trying. In one statement to the Memorial McFadyen recalled "feeling very tired, wet and muddy, covered in small black leeches competing with thousands of amber coloured ants for a place on my body".

In addition to putting up with stifling heat, humidity and torrential rain, McFadyen had to carry full combat equipment on top of his art materials. He also shared the tension felt by the patrols, working in the shadowy presence of enemy that was rarely seen. The paintings McFadyen did on these patrols depict the terrain of Phuoc Tuy province, images of helicopter "insertions" and "extractions" and scenes from search and destroy missions.
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.

Although he resumed his job with the ABC, McFadyen later resigned to devote himself to painting. During the 1970s he experimented with abstraction but remained firmly a realist painter.
Text courtesy of the Australian War Memorial Website


INFANTRY


McFadyen, Ken. 'Contact', 1968, oil on canvas on hardboard, 76 x 45 cm. This painting is displayed in the headquarters building of the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment at Lavarack Barracks, Townsville and is reproduced with the permission of the Commanding Officer.

About The Artist
Ken McFadyen
1939-1998

Ken McFadyen was born in Preston, Victoria in 1939. He studied at the National Gallery School from 1954 to 1960.
While working as a set designer at the Australian Broadcasting Commission in 1967, McFadyen was appointed an official war artist to cover the Australian involvement in the Vietnam War. 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, not just wield their paintbrushes.

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.

Painting and drawing while on patrol was even more trying. In one statement to the Memorial McFadyen recalled "feeling very tired, wet and muddy, covered in small black leeches competing with thousands of amber coloured ants for a place on my body".

In addition to putting up with stifling heat, humidity and torrential rain, McFadyen had to carry full combat equipment on top of his art materials. He also shared the tension felt by the patrols, working in the shadowy presence of enemy that was rarely seen. The paintings McFadyen did on these patrols depict the terrain of Phuoc Tuy province, images of helicopter "insertions" and "extractions" and scenes from search and destroy missions.
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.

Although he resumed his job with the ABC, McFadyen later resigned to devote himself to painting. During the 1970s he experimented with abstraction but remained firmly a realist painter.
Text courtesy of the Australian War Memorial Website

NAVY

The Vung Tau Ferry HMAS Sydney, Peter Blenkinsopp 1990. HMAS Sydney III, off the coast of Vietnam, 1968. Reproduced by courtesy of Mrs. Blenkinsopp

During the Vietnam War the task of moving, supplying and maintaining Australian forces in South Vietnam was shared between the Royal Australian Air Force, civilian aircraft - mainly Qantas - and ships from the Australian National Line (ANL). But the bulk of the task fell to the Royal Australian Navy and the vessel that carried out the majority of transport duties to and from Vietnam was the former aircraft carrier, HMAS Sydney.
Sydney's first voyage to South Vietnam, escorted by HMAS Melbourne, HMAS Duchess and HMAS Parramatta, began on 27 May 1965. For Sydney's crew, the trip meant the chance to both establish routines for a logistic task, the like of which had not been undertaken by the navy for twenty years, and to gain an understanding of the risks facing their ship in hostile waters. In the years to come, the run to Vung Tau and back became an increasingly speedy and smooth operation. Nevertheless, each voyage required a great deal of hard work, particularly during the loading and unloading phase of the operation.

In its role as the 'Vung Tau Ferry', HMAS Sydney brought together men from two distinct cultures: the army and the navy. In the days before she sailed from Australia, Sydney would be loaded with soldiers and their equipment. Crew members would be detailed to act as 'sea daddies' to groups of soldiers, helping them to get their bearings on board ship, showing them where to keep their gear and how to sling their hammocks - a novel, and often unwelcome, mode of sleeping for most soldiers. Apart from the unfamiliarity with shipboard life, or indeed with the ways of the navy, the soldiers often found Sydney to be uncomfortable, particularly in tropical waters when the heat below decks was intense.

During loading and unloading, when Sydney and her escort ships were anchored off Vung Tau, their crews were prepared to counter any attacks launched from shore. The ship's divers carried out constant patrols, checking hulls and cables while armed sentries stood on deck with orders to fire on suspicious movements in the water. As it turned out, neither Sydney nor her escorts were endangered in Vietnamese waters. But she performed in her role as 'Vung Tau ferry' very effectively, safely transporting thousands of troops to and from Vietnam along with thousands of tonnes of cargo and equipment.

By 1972, when Australia's involvement in Vietnam ended, Sydney had carried 16,000 army and RAAF personnel to Vung Tau on 24 ferry runs and had made a 25th trip to Vietnam to deliver and pick-up military equipment. Every voyage took between 10 and 12 days in each direction, a time during which soldiers heading for Vietnam were given hours of physical training and prepared for the year that they would have to spend as combatants in a war zone. For those on the return voyage after their twelve-month tour of duty, the passage to Australia offered a chance to relax, to reflect on their experiences and to prepare themselves for the transition from war to peace. Such a period of reflection was denied to those soldiers who returned home by aircraft, leaving Vietnam and being home within 10 hours. Although many Vietnam veterans recall being ignored upon their return to Australia, this was not the case for those who returned with their battalions on board HMAS Sydney. When the ship docked, the infantry were often met by dignitaries, including the Minister for the Army, and a march through the city - Sydney, Brisbane or Townsville - usually followed within hours.

Sydney's efforts were complemented by the work of two Australian National Line vessels, MV Jeparit and MV Boonaroo. After February 1967 Jeparit sailed with mixed crews, civilian seamen and naval personnel. Boonaroo made only two voyages to Vietnam and did one of these as a commissioned naval vessel. Jeparit on the other hand made 43 voyages to Vietnam, often coming up against strike action imposed by anti-war unions that delayed her loading and unloading. By 1970 authorities were sufficiently concerned at the toll that strike action was taking that in December that year she was commissioned as a Royal Australian Naval vessel, making union concerns, at least on board, irrelevant.
Text courtesy of http://vietnam-war.commemoration.gov.au

About the Artist
Peter Blenkinsopp, 1936 to 2010, got his inspiration to be a painter from his artistic father Jack Blenkinsopp. He got is inspiration for the sea when he emigrated by ship from England in the early 1950's.

Peter joined the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 1956 as a radar plotter and commissioned in 1960. He served on "the Vung Tau Ferry", HMAS Sydney, as Bridge Watchkeeper and Ships Diving Officer. He was later trained as a Principle Warfare Officer and commanded a number of HMA Ships. Peter served on HMAS Sydney as a Sub Lieutenant and a Lieutenant1966-1968.

On leaving the navy in 1980, he was employed as a Marine Pilot, and then Harbour Master in Port Hedland WA. It was during this period Peter started painting in earnest.

When he finally retired, he continued painting, set up a maritime company piloting ships through King Sound and Broome, ran a Caravan Park and served as Broome RSL President for a number of years.

His paintings are generally of the North West Australia landscape, RAN ships, merchant ships, and because of his love of the sea, seascapes.

ARTILLERY

'Task Force Vietnam' painted by Brian Woods

'Australian Task Force Vietnam' Artist's synopsis

The chief architects of Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War are represented at the top left of the painting. Foremost is Prime Minister Robert Menzies in earnest talks with American president Lyndon Baines Johnson. The Capitol building is between them. Behind Menzies is his successor Harold Holt, famous for his declaration..'all the way with LBJ' and then to his right the chief public figure to advocate Australia's involvement, Minister for External Affairs. Paul Hasluck. They surmount the old Houses of Parliament in Canberra from where these decisions were made and from where I have symbolically shown HMAS Sydney, the main carrier of the Task Force being deployed.

To LBJ's left is his successor Richard Nixon and the principal players of the South Vietnamese regime, General Nguyen Van Thieu and Air Vice-Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky. The earlier, ousted and assissinated president Ngo Dinh Diem is shown somewhat isolated. They, their presidential palace, various towns and cities of Sth Vietnam are depicted being assaulted by the communist Viet Cong of the south and the armies of the National Liberation Front of North Vietnam led by their nationalist/communist leader Ho Chi Minh. Behind him is his chief military strategist General Vo Nguyen Giap, the nemesis of the French.

The respective flags of Australia, USA and SVN flow down into the rubber plantation base camp of Task force operations, Nui Dat, then into a map of their area of operations and responsibilty, Phouc Tuy province. From there it progresses to the jungle, the scene of so much endless and exhaustive patrolling, ending in many a battle.

The lower foreground does not represent a single scene or moment, but merely different elements at different times. the 105mm Artillery Battery in a fire support base, a couple of resting diggers, soldiers under pressure or the burdened figure of the infantryman doggedly pressing on into the damp and threatening gloom of the jungle. Alongside them, always ready to provide close support,even in the thickest scrub, are the Cavalry in their Armoured Personell Carriers and Armoured Corps Centurion tanks. Providing air support are the 9 Sqn RAAF Bushranger gunships, 2 Sqn RAAF Canberra bombers and the USAF, represented by a flight of F-4 Phantoms, all intent on holding back any enemy advancement or incursions.
As a young and callow National Serviceman I believed the reasons given to us by our politicians for going to war, much of which has since been shown to be at the best misguided and at the worst deliberately misrepresentative. However, I believe I can vouch for the professionalism and dedication of all ranks and services I had the privilege to serve with in what turned out to be a thoroughly unpopular and perhaps, for some, a pointless war.
Brian Wood.

About The Artist
Brian was born in London 19th August 1948, grew up in Tolworth, Surrey, eventually emigrating to Australia with his family. He left school aged 16 and served an apprenticeship in the printing industry as a machine minder. In that vocation he was a lost cause. He was aware of an ability to draw from an early age but only became interested in painting whilst recovering from a broken leg at the age of 20, never regarding it as any more than a hobby. On completion of his apprenticeship he joined the Australian Army, serving in Vietnam as an infantryman come photographer, working in less than ideal conditions. His duties called for him to photographically record his battalions tour for intelligence purposes as well as posterity. He was also prevailed upon to sketch for newsletters etc. After his discharge in 1972, he decided to travel on a working holiday which included working on an oil rig in the North Sea before travelling extensively in Europe, South America and Africa. He settled in South Africa for a period of time working in various jobs and experimenting more seriously with art. He returned to Australia where he accepted a position with the Port of Melbourne Authoritys Emergency Service, performing a number of duties but chiefly concerned with construction and salvage diving. During this period his recreation was his painting and he is completely self taught. Entries into specific exhibitions led to modest recognition by acceptance into the Australian Guild of Realist Artists and the securing of several private commissions. His interest in historical subjects, mainly maritime, has been with him since childhood. Due to developments beyond his control, his employment with the Port Authority ceased in mid 1991 and he embarked on painting full time. This resulted in his winning a First Prize Award in Sydneys Royal Easter Show for 1993 with Culloden - The Aftermath, which is now hanging in Aros - Isle of Skye Heritage Centre in Scotland. He now lives on the shores of Port Macquarie, New South Wales and outside of his occupation of painting, sailing is his main recreation - a natural extension of his interest in the sea.

ARMOUR


'Centurions in Vietnam' painted by Barry Spicer

Three Centurion tanks and an ARV of the Australian Army's Armoured Corps, accompanied by infantry conduct an early morning patrol somewhere in South Vietnam, circa 1970.


About the Artist
Barry Spicer is a military artist who focuses on aviation and armoured vehicles as his main subjects.
At the age of 6, he went to see the film "The Battle of Britain" and was so inspired by the sight of those graceful but deadly aeroplanes that he turned his already established pastime of drawing to sketching aircraft. Since then he has been fascinated by flight in general and later developed an interest in helicopters and armoured vehicles. After working with Telstra for ten years, Barry's position became redundant in 1995.

It was then that he decided to learn how to paint in order to follow his childhood dream of becoming a full time artist. He took to painting with great enthusiasm, initially using an airbrush but then moving to oils and has achieved a level of ability that has won him numerous commissions. Barry has been contracted to paint a great variety of aircraft and vehicles for use on stamps, coins, model boxes and limited edition prints. He is also the official artist for the Australian Army Aviation Regiment. Barry considers himself very lucky to be able to work doing something he loves, and always strives to make each painting or drawing as accurate as possible.

He lives in Adelaide with his wife and two children.

AIR FORCE

'Dustoff' painted by Brian Woods

'Dustoff' Artist's synopsis

Without these Bell UH-1 Iroquois "Huey" helicopters, the Vietnam war would have been considerably more costly in human life, every digger quickly came to appreciate that fact. Along with air power it gave us a very broad edge, but somehow the Huey was more personal, more intimately involved, more down-to-earth, literally…whether it was the gung-ho Bushranger air support complete with mini-guns and rockets laying down the sort of firepower the NVA or Viet Cong had no hope of emulating, or the more prosaic resupply of food and water, or just simply transport in and out of operational zones. She was the workhorse of the war and without her the outcome might have been much different. But she was only a machine and a machine without a crew was just a pile of nuts and bolts…so I will always remember with the utmost respect the dedication of the pilots and crew who rode and drove those things into some frightening situations.

One of their most outstanding features was their ability to pluck the wounded from the jungle or scrub within minutes of a contact and have them delivered to hospital in a shorter space of time than the average time taken for an ambulance to perform the same service for victims of a road accident back in Australia. That fact was told to me by an Army nurse. This function, known as "Dustoff" originated with the Americans and was wholeheartedly carried on by the RAAF supporting Australian ground troops. Despite the temptation to depict the "Huey" in a more aggressive role, I preferred to show her in the more human role of that crazy airborne ambulance, coming down in almost any conditions to save a stricken digger. I don't know how many scarred veterans owe their lives to those airmen in the "Huey"….but it must be one hell of a lot.


About The Artist
He was born in London 19th August 1948, grew up in Tolworth, Surrey, eventually emigrating to Australia with his family. He left school aged 16 and served an apprenticeship in the printing industry as a machine minder. In that vocation he was a lost cause. He was aware of an ability to draw from an early age but only became interested in painting whilst recovering from a broken leg at the age of 20, never regarding it as any more than a hobby. On completion of his apprenticeship he joined the Australian Army, serving in Vietnam as an infantryman come photographer, working in less than ideal conditions. His duties called for him to photographically record his battalions tour for intelligence purposes as well as posterity. He was also prevailed upon to sketch for newsletters etc. After his discharge in 1972, he decided to travel on a working holiday which included working on an oil rig in the North Sea before travelling extensively in Europe, South America and Africa. He settled in South Africa for a period of time working in various jobs and experimenting more seriously with art. He returned to Australia where he accepted a position with the Port of Melbourne Authoritys Emergency Service, performing a number of duties but chiefly concerned with construction and salvage diving. During this period his recreation was his painting and he is completely self taught. Entries into specific exhibitions led to modest recognition by acceptance into the Australian Guild of Realist Artists and the securing of several private commissions. His interest in historical subjects, mainly maritime, has been with him since childhood. Due to developments beyond his control, his employment with the Port Authority ceased in mid 1991 and he embarked on painting full time. This resulted in his winning a First Prize Award in Sydneys Royal Easter Show for 1993 with Culloden - The Aftermath, which is now hanging in Aros - Isle of Skye Heritage Centre in Scotland. He now lives on the shores of Moreton Bay, Queensland and outside of his occupation of painting, sailing is his main recreation - a natural extension of his interest in the sea.