Australian War Memorials

View of Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial with picture of real soldiers overlaid on memorial depicting engraving of that image

Photo from Government of Australia overlaid on photo by Mattinsbgn on Wikimedia Commons

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should note that this article contains images of deceased Aboriginal Australians featured on the Australian War Memorial's online medial collection.

The Australian War Memorial in Canberra is the national site of remembrance for Australian servicemen and women who have died in all conflicts and peace-keeping operations, but there are many other memorials to Australian sacrifice around the country and overseas.

This guide highlights some of the most important and poignant Australian war memorials. You can find details and personal stories of the men and women commemorated by these and other memorials on the Virtual War Memorial Australia website.

Black and white photo of Australian soldiers on a troop ship after the evacuation from Tobruk in 1941

Photo by Australian War Memorial on Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

Shrine of Remembrance

The Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, Victoria, was originally established to commemorate Victorians killed in the First World War, but is now a memorial to all soldiers from the state who have died in conflict.

View of the Shrine of Remembrance from the front, during the day

Photo by Donaldytong on Wikimedia Commons

The design of the Shrine of Remembrance is based on the lost Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

In the forecourt of the Shrine there are two memorials to Victorian soldiers of the Second World War and post-1945 conflicts, including the Vietnam War.

The Father and Son Statue depicts two generations of Australian soldiers in battle uniforms of the First and Second World War.

Since 1935 the Shrine has been guarded by members of the Victoria Police and subsequently Victoria Police Protective Services Unit, wearing the uniforms of the Australian Light Horse.

Site: Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne

Unveiled: 1934 (Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester)

Designer: Phillip Hudson and James Wardrop

Inscription: Greater love hath no man.

Villers–Bretonneux Australian National Memorial

Villers–Bretonneux was selected as the site for a memorial to Australian soldiers who died in France and Belgium during the First World War because of the famous victory by the 4th and 5th Australian Divisions. The soldiers who recaptured the entire village only a day after it was occupied by the German army.

View of the Villers–Bretonneux memorial, with the cross of sacrifice in the foreground, and gravestones and the Australian and French flags visible

Photo by Carcharoth on Wikimedia Commons

The memorial consists of a tower and Cross of Sacrifice, with the names of 10,719 Australian soldiers with no known grave inscribed on it. It was damaged by gunfire during the Second World War and some of the scars were deliberately not repaired as a reminder of the impact of conflict.

In April 2018 the Sir John Monash Interpretative Centre was installed behind the Bretonneux Australian National Memorial, to provide visitors with more information about the experiences of Australian soldiers on the Western Front.

Site: Villers–Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Amiens, France

Unveiled: 1938

Designer: Sir Edwin Lutyens

Inscription: To the glory of God and in memory of the Australian Imperial Force in France and Flanders 1916-1918 and of eleven thousand who fell in France and have no known grave.

Anzac Memorial

The original idea for a memorial to commemorate the Anzacs of New South Wales who were killed during the First World War was discussed as early as 1916, shortly after the massive casualties suffered by them at Gallipoli which inspired the “Anzac legend”.

Aerial view of Anzac memorial during the day, surrounded by trees in Hyde Park

Photo by Jorge Lascar on Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by Neo-gothic architecture and contemporary art-deco design, the memorial features sculptures of 20 representatives of the Australian Imperial Forces, including an infantry lieutenant, Australian Flying Corp pilot, naval commander and nursing officer.

The interior of the building includes the Hall of Memory and Hall of Silence. In 2018 a new Hall of Service was added as part of the centenary extensions to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Site: Hyde Park, Sydney, NSW

Unveiled: 1934 (Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester)

Designer: C. Bruce Dellit (reliefs and sculptures by Raynor Hoff)

Inscription: To the Glory of God, and as a lasting monument of all the members of the Australian Forces of the State of New South Wales, who served their King and country in the Great War, and especially in grateful remembrance of those who laid down their lives, we dedicate this Anzac Memorial.

Black and white shot of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester opening the Anzac Memorial in 1934; prince Henry and other dignitaries are standing on the balcony of the memorial surrounded by flags

Photo by State Library of New South Wales on Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders War Memorial

Rear view of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders War Memorial; lifelike sculptures of male and femal soldiers in battledress standing on a large rock in a park

Photo by Robert Hannaford on Wikimedia Commons

Men and women of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders descent were officially banned from enlisting in the Australian forces until 1949, but actually managed to serve, and suffer casualties, in every conflict since the Boer War. Recruits who had lighter skin, or were mixed race, were more likely to be accepted, sometimes by claiming to be from different countries, although they were always at risk of being thrown out during training, or while on service.

Photos of two Aboriginal Australian soldiers from WW1 and WW2

Photos by Australian War Memorial on Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders War Memorial in South Australia was installed after a long campaign to recognise their service.

There is a special service at the memorial to commemorate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders military service during Reconciliation Week.

Site: Torrens Parade Ground and Training Depot, Adelaide

Unveiled: 2013 (Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of Australia)

Designer: Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin, Tony Rosella and Michelle Nikou

Inscription: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and servicewomen fought and died for Australia. They have served in every conflict and most peacekeeping missions in which Australia has been involved from the Boer War until the present day. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have served in defence of our country, but service policies have not always provided the opportunity for them to identify their cultural heritage on enlistment. This memorial is sited on the land of the Kaurna people adjacent to the River Torrens : Karrawirra Pari-ityangka "in the vicinity of the red forest gum river", to recognise and commemorate the service and sacrifice of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have served Australia. Today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and servicewomen continue to represent their people and their country as valued members of the Australian Defence Force. Lest We Forget.

Australian War Memorial, London

Wide-view the Australian War Memorial in Hyde Park, London

Photo by Irredescention Wikimedia Commons

The Australian War Memorial, London, was installed in Hyde Park on the 85th anniversary of the end of the First World War, in commemoration of Australian soldiers who fought in both world wars.

The memorial, which was completed in 11 months, features the names of the home- towns of these soldiers inscribed on grey-green Australian granite.

Close-up of the Australian War Memorial in Hyde Park, London, displaying the names of towns that Australian soldiers of the first and second world war came from

Photo by cjc13 on Wikimedia Commons

The names of battles that these soldiers fought in are superimposed on top of the names of the towns.

Close-up of the Australian War Memorial in Hyde Park, London, displaying the names of battles that Australian soldiers fought in

Photo by Irredescenti on Wikimedia Commons

Surviving soldiers who had attended the coronation of George VI in 1937 were invited to attend the unveiling of the memorial.

Site: Hyde Park, London, UK

Unveiled: 2003 (Hon. John Howard MP and Rt. Hon. Tony Blair MP)

Designer: Peter Tonkin

Inscription: Roll of Honour

Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial

The memorial to the 50,000 Australian servicemen and women who fought in the Vietnam War is one of several individual memorials on Anzac parade that leads to the Australian War Memorial.

Photo by Mattinbgn on Wikimedia Commons

The Vietnam memorial is a partially closed-off concrete and steel structure with a contemporary photograph of Australian soldiers waiting to be picked up by a helicopter etched on to the rear wall.

Interior of Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial

Photo by Mattinbgn on Wikimedia Commons

The names of 120 foreign servicemen, including Australians, are inscribed on Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

Site: Anzac Parade, Canberra

Unveiled: 1992 (Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Daly KBE CB DSO)

Designer: Tonkin Zulaikha Harford Architects/ Ken Unsworth AM

Inscription: The memorial consists of several large slabs inscribed with contemporary quotations from military operations, politicians and veterans reflecting on their experiences:

Sunray was directing the light fire team - Bushrangers, from his possum.

An extreme effort was demanded from nursing staff on these occasions-over 24 hours on duty was on most of the days mentioned.

I don’t seem to have many friends since I came home. If you weren’t there then you can’t understand.