Full Metal Numismatic: Downies commemorates 40 years since Australia ended Vietnam War involvement

Seen throughout the world as a predominantly American conflict, the Vietnam War also drew in several other Allied nations in the fight against the Communist North. In those countries, the war proved to be as divisive as it did in the USA, nowhere more so than Australia. During the course of a ten-year period, in excess of 60,000 Australians fought in this South-East Asian war, over 500 of them losing their lives while doing so. Next year sees the 40th anniversary of Prime Minister John Gorton’s statement that Australian involvement in the war would cease.

Downies are issuing a 500 mintage four-piece set of silver coins to mark the beginning of the end of Australia’s participation in this hugely controversial war. Each one weighs a troy ounce of fine 0.999 silver and depicts Australian forces in various operations. Two of the designs feature the land war, one air combat, and one naval forces. All have a common obverse, and as they’re issued for Niue, it’s the usual effigy of Queen Elizabeth II surrounded by the inscribed coin information.

Apart from some colour highlights to flags at the top of the coins, the designs remain cleanly struck and free of distraction. Each is quite sparse with regards to backgrounds, a wise choice given the loose mix of elements depicted. All of the designs are top notch, in our view. It’s often the case with aircraft and ships on coins that perspective takes a back seat to artistic licence, but all of the equipment depicted on these four coins looks spot on, with the human figures showing an equal level of competence. The naval issue is a favourite. The guided-missile destroyer HMAS Brisbane is the main focus, with the old Majestic-class carrier HMAS Sydney (nicknamed the Vung Tau Ferry because of her 25 voyages filled with men and materiel) in the rear. The former in particular, is exceptionally well realised.

The four coins are only sold as a set and come very nicely presented in a gloss black box. This will hold a large certificate of authenticity packed with more information on the coins, and it all comes inside a lightly themed shipper box. All told, this looks to be very appealing to the military coin collector. There isn’t a whole lot of Vietnam War coins to choose from, but even if there were, this would likely rank very high on the list. Available to order now, it sells for just shy of $500 AUD.


Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War began with a small commitment of 30 military advisors in 1962, and increased over the following decade to a peak of 7,672 Australian personnel following the Menzies Government’s April 1965 decision to upgrade its military commitment to South Vietnam’s security. By the time the last Australian personnel were withdrawn in 1972, the Vietnam War had become Australia’s longest war, and was only recently surpassed by Australia’s long term commitment of combat forces to the War in Afghanistan. It remains Australia’s largest force contribution to a foreign conflict since the Second World War and was also the most controversial in Australian society since the conscription controversy during the First World War. Although initially enjoying broad support due to concerns about the spread of communism in Southeast Asia, a vocal anti-war movement developed in response to Australia’s programme of conscription.

The withdrawal of Australia’s forces from South Vietnam began in November 1970, under the Gorton Government, when 8 RAR completed its tour of duty and was not replaced. A phased withdrawal followed, and by 11 January 1973 Australian involvement in hostilities in Vietnam had ceased. Nevertheless, Australian troops from the Australian Embassy Platoon remained deployed in the country until 1 July 1973, and Australian forces were deployed briefly in April 1975, during the Fall of Saigon, to evacuate personnel from the Australian embassy. Approximately 60,000 Australians served in the war; 521 were killed and more than 3,000 were wounded. (Source:Wikipedia)


A superb presentation, this collection comprises four legal tender coins. Each coin honours a specific aspect of Australian military operations in Vietnam. Distinguished by acutely detailed, fully struck-up designs, and embellished with full-colour, the four coins honour ‘Gunline’, ‘Callsign Magpie’, ‘Dustoff’ and ‘Cordon & Search’ respectively.

Honouring the courage, spirit and self-sacrifice of all Australians who served in the conflict, demand for the 2019 $1 Vietnam War Silver Proof 4-Coin Set is sure to be substantial.

GUNLINE: Australian destroyers served on ‘the Gunline’, providing gunfire support for ground forces in South Vietnam.

CALLSIGN MAGGIE: Canberra bombers from No.2 Squadron RAAF used the callsign ‘Magpie’ in Vietnam in recognition of the squadron’s emblem.

DUSTOFF: Known as a ‘Dustoff’, medical helicopters flew into combat zones in Vietnam for emergency evacuation of the wounded.

CORDON & SEARCH: Cordon & Search saw Australian forces restrict access to an area whilst searching for weapons or insurgents.

DENOMINATION $1 New Zealand (Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 31.1 grams
MODIFICATIONS Selective colour
BOX / COA Yes / Yes