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Cropped image of the 1st Australian Field Hospital Commemorative Stained Glass Window, Artisan - Paul Danaher
The Window

The Window

The 1st Australian Field Hospital
Commemorative Stained Glass Window

Click on an image then scroll

In the year of 1996, Paul Danaher who served with 1AFH SVN during 1971, began crafting the 1st Australian Field Hospital Commemorative Stained Glass Window.


Paul, along with his business partner Dexter Jackson, owned and ran their business “The Lead Balloon” in Malvern Road, Malvern Victoria.


The 1st (Aust) Field Hospital Association acknowledges with deep gratitude the gift of time and materials made by Paul Danaher, Dexter Jackson and the “Lead Balloon” and for ensuring that our unit’s legacy of service, during the Vietnam War, is memorialised.


The design & technique


The stained glass window is constructed using techniques that haven't changed over the centuries. A full size cartoon is drawn up and the various pieces of coloured glass individually cut out. The finer detail on many of the pieces (the writing, the chopper and shading), are painted onto the glass with metal oxides and fired in a kiln using exactly the same methods used as if making a stained glass window for a church.


The details around the crown (the red, white & yellow) involved etching the red surface away from a laminated piece of glass and exposing the white glass underneath. Parts of this white glass are painted with silver stain which when fired in a kiln turns yellow. All the pieces of glass, both kiln fired, and plain are then assembled using extruded lead. Joins are soldered and finally the window is puttied to make it both solid and watertight. 


For most of their 30 years in business, Paul & Dexter employed a graphic artist, Julia Dunn. She was invaluable to the success of the business and Julia hand painted the details onto the glass in this window. Her name was painted to the window for posterity.


The Presentation to 1 Field Hospital


The ‘Return of the VAMPIRE’ Reunion (held to celebrate 30 years since the unit was raised in Vung Tau) was held in Sydney, NSW 1998. This was the first unit reunion, and homecoming, for past members of the unit


As part of the weekend’s celebrations, 1 Field Hospital under the command of the then LTCOL Darrell Duncan held a 30th Anniversary Unit Parade at Holsworthy Barracks.


During the parade, after a dedication by Chaplain Howard Dillon, the founding president of the 1AFH Association, Bob Bell, proudly presented the stained glass window to 1 Field Hospital. After the ceremony, the window was placed into a back-lit niche outside the CO’s office.


Also, at the 30th Anniversary Parade was  MAJGEN  Bill Watson, commonly known as ‘Bill the Builder’ the first commanding officer of 1st Australian Field Hospital Vung Tau.  Bill was given the honour of cutting the 30th Birthday cake alongside the youngest serving member of 1 Field Hospital.


1968 – Serving Still


Since the Vietnam War, the 1st Australian Field Hospital has undergone many name changes. The word ‘Australian’ was removed upon the units return to home shores and the unit became known as 1 Field Hospital. Subsequently the unit was known as 1 Health Support Battalion, 1 Close Health Battalion  and is now, 1 Health Battalion.


Where’s the window now?


Today, the 1AFH Stained Glass Window is displayed with great pride at 1 Health Battalion, Robertson Barracks NT. As recently as ANZAC Day, the window was backlit and incorporated into a temporary pulpit during the Robertson Barracks Dawn Service which this year was hosted by 1HB.

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