Eighteen soldiers were killed and 25 were wounded during the Battle of Long Tan on August 18, 1966.
Eighteen soldiers were killed and 25 were wounded during the Battle of Long Tan on August 18, 1966. Australian War Memorial collecti

Long Tan: Australian vets to be allowed in "small groups"

VIETNAMESE authorities have relented on a hard-line position to stop veterans from entering the Long Tan memorial site after negotiations with the Australian Government overnight.

Groups of up to 100 people or less will now be able to access the area.

However, the commemoration ceremony that was to mark the 50 year anniversary of the notorious battle remains off.

Veterans Affairs' Minister Dan Tehan described the cancellation on Wednesday as a "kick in the guts" for servicemen, but said he was "very grateful" to the Vietnamese for the change in position.

Mr Tehan told the ABC more than 1000 Australians had travelled to Vietnam to mark the event.

Tensions were ignited on Wednesday when Australian veterans of the Vietnam conflict were refused entry to the battlefield, despite paying entry fees.


LONG TAN: Australian vets to be allowed in "small groups"

EARLIER: PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull will talk to his Vietnamese counterpart about lifting a ban on thousands of Australians, including veterans, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.

"I have requested a telephone call with my Vietnamese counter-part to express our disappointment - and we will continue to do all we can to persuade the Vietnamese government to reconsider its decision," Mr Turnbull told veterans at a commemoration dinner in Canberra last night.

Eighteen soliders were killed and 25 were wounded during the Long Tan fight August 18, 1966.

Vietnam usually allows small groups to visit the Battle of Long Tan memorial cross, but it has a ban on medals, uniforms and music other than playing of The Last Post.

West Australian Vietnam veteran Peter Manucci told the ABC that his tour group was refused entry to the battlefield on Wednesday despite all of them paying $12 in advance to see the site.

"I am pretty well pissed off," he said.

"There are 3500 people who are booked in to go the Long Tan cross and that's why they are not happy.

"They have our money - that's $30,000 in their pocket, gone, thank you very much."

The ABC reported one of its crews was stopped "about 200 metres before the site's memorial cross".

"No clear reason was given for blocking access to the site, which is on a private farm, but access to the cross was open on Tuesday," the national broadcaster said.