Citroen Traction in Vietnam War
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Thread: Citroen Traction in Vietnam War

  1. #1
    JBN
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    Default Citroen Traction in Vietnam War

    VIETNAM HISTORY

    Story told to Bob Meehan by Noel Hains

    Way back in 1968-69, Victor Company, New Zealand infantry were attached to 4 RAR. While on operations near the Courtney Rubber Plantation in the north of Phuoc Tuy Province, South Vietnam, a Forward scout saw something that didn’t look right in the thick scrub in front of him……. A section of their fineness moved forward to discover an old French Citroën car. As the photos show they dragged it clear of the undergrowth …
    .Please NOTE!!! The number plate…………and bullet holes. repaired and painted it…………they were instructed to get rid of it as it was not military issued………not to be out-done by the authorities, some red and white paint mixed together, they painted it PINK and then donated it to Sister Pam Terry (Nurse) of the RNZNC to be used by them to drive around Vung Tau…………This was then passed on to each of the Aussie and Kiwi nurses over that following years………..
    Citroen Traction in Vietnam War-traction-1.jpg
    Citroen Traction in Vietnam War-traction-2.jpg
    Citroen Traction in Vietnam War-traction-3.jpg
    Citroen Traction in Vietnam War-traction-4.jpg
    After taking it back to Nui Dat…..a little mechanical work and a new paint job…they had it up and running………
    Citroen Traction in Vietnam War-traction-5.jpg
    but alas, it was not of military issue…They were told to get rid of it…not to be out-done by the authorities they came up with a plan..(Don’t we all ???) . So with a tin of red paint and a tin of white paint……..they re-painted it PINK.
    Citroen Traction in Vietnam War-traction-6.jpg
    Citroen Traction in Vietnam War-traction-7.jpg

    With bullet holes still visible, they donated the vehicle to Sister Pam Terry of the RNZNC for her Kiwi nurses and the Aussie nurses down at Vung Tau to get around in………..


    I served with 6RAR/NZ [ANZAC] on its second tour when we took over from 4RAR/NZ [ANZAC] in May 1969. I only remember the car as the pink nurses car at 1 Field Hospital in Vung Tau. Two of our officers married two of the nurses that they met there.

    I left my Citroen acquisitions until returning to Australia. They were not in such a state as this one.

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    John

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    There is a Light 15 on display in the museum in Saigon (or there was a couple of years ago) that I think was used as a VC "staff car". as there is precious little on show that the Allies used and left behind.

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    JBN
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    Could well be. I liked the numberplate on the pink Traction when it was taken from the jungle - NVA (North Vietnamese Army).

    In 1969, in Phuc Tuy province (where the Australians were) there was a French rubber plantation owner who was killed when the Traction he was driving hit a VC mine.

    One thing that the Allies did leave behind was the Long Tan Cross. I believe it is in a military museum in Bien Hoa province. I was there when it was constructed and planted at the Long Tan battle site on 18 August 1969, 3 years after the battle. It was never painted white (like the replica), just unpainted concrete with a fixed brass plaque. A couple of years ago I saw it again at the Australian War Museum where it was on display, being on loan from the Vietnamese. Interestingly, it is the only foreign war memorial allowed in Vietnam other than the French one at Dien Bien Phu (scene of the French defeat that ended their colonial rule). I think that the Vietnamese realise the replica Long Tan Cross brings in a lot of tourists, and the Australians have always acknowledged that it commemorates fallen from both friend and foe.

    Citroen Traction in Vietnam War-long-tan-cross-3.jpg

    John
    Last edited by JBN; 14th August 2015 at 11:20 PM. Reason: Add photo
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    A nice reminder joining Aussiefrogs and Veterans. Vietnam Veterans Day is August 18th. I'll be honouring them!
    Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone............

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    It seem that the Vietnamese bear no ill-will towards we Australians for invading their country, mainly because our soldiers respected their dead.
    They don't go much on the Frogs or the Yanks!!
    I went to Vietnam with some younger friends, both Army reservists, who were very apprehensive about that info getting out .Why, they never said, but, they did insist that we went to Long Tan.I'm glad I went, especially as when we arrived, there was a team of Viets diligently cleaning the Cross and surrounds with all the reverence that I felt when I saw it, a remarkable mark of respect.
    I was disappointed that the kindergarten that is funded by Aus (returned soldiers??) was closed for the day.

    I was just too old to be in the Nasho lottery, but I "dips me lid" to the blokes who went from here the fight in a war they had no say in, and in conditions they'd never experienced. The way they were treated on their return ESPECIALLY BY THE RSL, is absolutely appalling, and, in my opinion, what ever is done on their behalf will never be enough.
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    JBN
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    Citroen Traction in Vietnam War-vietnam-traction-nurses.jpg

    Sadly, today I attended the funeral of the nurse wearing the polka dot dress, with the pink Citroen Traction that was given to the Australian Army Nurses in Vietnam during 1969. That year was probably the worst for mine related casualties. Most of the nurses had PTSD, faced with the impossibility of piecing together the jigsaw pieces of a once proud soldier into someone who resembled a human being. Haunted by the sound of an incoming Huey helicopter into Vampire Pad at the Australian Field Hospital, wondering what would greet them at triage.

    John

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    Get hold of a copy of "Minefields and Miniskirts" (author forgotten) if you want to understand what the nurses (and some Diggers) went through.

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