The bodies of 32 Australian service personnel and their dependents, many of them killed during the Vietnam War, have been handed over by Malaysian soldiers to their Australian counterparts. Australian officials say it's among the biggest single repatriations in the nation's history.

The remains handed over Tuesday at Subang military air base had been interred for decades at Terendak Military Cemetery in Malaysia. Malaysia soldiers carried coffins draped with Australia flags to the tarmac, where Australian troops carried them aboard two Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft.

The bodies, plus one additional set of remains from Singapore, will arrive in Sydney on Thursday. After a formal military repatriation ceremony that will include some veterans who served with those killed, a private memorial service will be held.