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April 2013

In this newsletter, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of inaugural surgical team leader Michael Shackleton’s arrival in Qui Nhon on Anzac Day 1963. We highlight the legacy of Dr Shackleton’s pioneering work, which continues today through the New Zealand Viet Nam Health Trust. We share collected memories of the civilian surgical team’s experiences of living and working in Qui Nhon during the war, and highlight the extensive photographic collection of former team maintenance officer Dennis Montgomery.

Your comments, feedback and contributions are welcome - email us on info@vietnamwar.govt.nz

  • Anzac Day 1963 - Shackleton arrives in Qui Nhon

  • See highlights from the Papakura Museum exhibition

    On 25 April 1963, Dr Michael Shackleton arrived in Qui Nhon to establish a New Zealand civilian surgical team at the Binh Dinh Provincial Hospital. Despite significant resistance, he brokered relationships with bureaucrats and military bosses to obtain accommodation and medical equipment for his team, and win the trust of Vietnamese medics and patients.

    Read articles about the Shackleton family and the 50th anniversary of the NZST's arrival in Qui Nhon

  • NZ Surgical Team report, 1967

  • NZ Surgical Team report, 1967

    Report on the New Zealand Surgical Team published by the New Zealand Government in 1967. With a foreword by Prime Minister Keith Holyoake, it provides an insight into the day-to-day work of the surgical team, as well as the social and political scene in Qui Nhon during the early years of New Zealand’s military involvement in Vietnam.

    Look through the pages of the report

  • Remembering Dr Margaret Neave

  • Remembering Dr Margaret Neave

    Dr Margaret Neave’s legacy is synonymous with New Zealand’s civilian medical effort in the Vietnam War. During her two stints with the surgical team, Dr Neave (1920-2007) set up baby clinics in Binh Dinh, venturing outside Qui Nhon and into the remote An Lao valley to tend sick children. One of the last New Zealanders to leave in 1975, she returned to Qui Nhon in 1990.

    Read more about Dr Neave's remarkable career

Collected memories of the civilian surgical team

Collected memories of the civilian surgical team

George Gordon:  “I suddenly realised that we had a lot of amputees lying around the hospital. People who had lost limbs through motor accidents, war injuries or, or I ‘spose just disease. They were just increasing around the hospital.” Listen to the interview

Ken Treanor:  “I went back to Vietnam 1972-1973 after being seconded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to fill the post of Administration Officer to the New Zealand Surgical Team.” Read more

Peter Skidmore: “Occasionally they’d be shot and tied up like a, like a tiger and a note stuck in their mouth to say, Hey, this is a Viet Cong and if you’re one of them, this is what’ll happen to you.” Listen to the interview

Karen Pilcher: “I was quite surprised I was when I was told I was chosen out of 60 other nurses to go in the civilian team as I’d not long registered as a nurse.” Read more

NZST veterans on New Zealand's 
Vietnam War nominal roll

Medic behind the mask

The Vietnam War website contains an individual page for every civilian surgical team member who worked in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975 – but we have very few photos by which to remember them. Can you help us add faces to their names? Send photographs to info@vietnamwar.govt.nz

Photo of team members include - Dr Denver Calder, Dr Joe Dobson, Dr John Inder, Dr Campbell MacLaurin

Kiwi medics in Qui Nhon - a photographic memoir

Kiwi medics in Qui Nhon - a photographic memoir

Officially tasked with servicing the hospital generator, vehicles and medical equipment, surgical team maintenance officer Dennis Montgomery was also the unofficial team photographer during his two stints in Vietnam. Whether on his regular journeys around town in a Kiwi-emblazoned white Land Rover, or jumping planes to scrounge supplies, Dennis’ forays were also his chance to amass an impressive collection of photographs documenting the surgical team’s day-to-day life, and local scenes.

See Dennis Montgomery's photos

New Zealand Viet Nam Health Trust

New Zealand Viet Nam Health Trust

In March, the New Zealand Viet Nam Health Trust hosted four Vietnamese surgeons from Qui Nhon in a surgical training exchange with hospitals in Dunedin, Rotorua and Auckland. In this story, former civilian surgical team member David Morris, and army medical unit surgeon Brian McMahon, reflect on their work during the war, and talk about their ongoing relationship with Qui Nhon through the NZVHT.

Image: Otago Daily Times, 9 March 2013

Listen to Radio NZ interview with David Morris and Brian McMahon

More websites from Manatū Taonga – The Ministry for Culture and Heritage

NZ History online 28th Māori Battalion