Eric Winn looks over photographs of the original plaques placed at Gallipoli.
Eric Winn looks over photographs of the original plaques placed at Gallipoli. Tony Martin

Vietnam War veterans attend a mission on Gallipoli

FOUR Mackay men are part of a team of 12 that will head to Gallipoli later this month on an important mission leading up to the 100th anniversary of the Anzac landings.

Vietnam War veteran Eric Winn, Duncan Townsend, Jamie Kennedy and Meecham Philpott fly out of Mackay on March 17.

Mr Winn is a director of the Kokoda Memorial Foundation (KMF), a not-for-profit group that installs and maintains memorials to the men who died fighting on Kokoda Track in the Second World War as well as aiding the local people with basic infrastructure such as water supplies and schools.

Melbourne periodontist and keen military historian Dr Ross Bastiaan is also involved with the KMF and last October phoned Mr Winn.

"Ross said, 'We've got a problem, nine plaques have been stolen at Gallipoli'."

The bronze plaques, which were taken from plinths or pedestals erected at the main battle sites including Anzac Cove, Lone Pine and The Nek, offer a description of each site.

Mr Winn said the plaques, about $1400 each, would have been taken and sold.

"We've got a team of 12 men organised, most are Vietnam vets or serving and retired members of the Australian Defence Force," he said. Only one has been to Gallipoli before.

The men will replace the nine stolen plaques and rebuild two plinths.

"We've got 1500kg of gear to take over there.

"We like to be self sufficient and have everything from grinders to shovels.

"We always take the plaques with us as they may not get there if they are on a ship or plane," Mr Winn said.

Porters Hardware, Mark Evans Sheet Metal at Paget and Townsend Cabinet Making at Walkerston have donated equipment.

The team has eight or nine days to do the job.