The Nowra War Cemetery is a designated cemetery within the Nowra General Cemetery. During and immediately after WW2, the Nowra district was host to many Australian and Allied units. The timeline of their association can be traced by the burials of twenty-six Australian and eight British WW2 servicemen. The final internment in 1947, being an Australian soldier recruited to serve with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) in Japan.
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) operated two stations in the area during WW2, RAAF Nowra and a smaller satellite airfield, RAAF Jervis Bay. The most notable RAAF units to operate from these bases were the Base Torpedo Unit (BTU) (/explore/units/1478,), No 6 Operational Training Unit (6OTU) (/explore/units/1659) and No 73 Squadron’s (/explore/units/1624) A Flight. The airfields were also used briefly by the US Army Air Corps (USAAC) and the Royal Netherlands East Indies Air Force. RAAF Kingfisher float planes flown by No 107 Squadron (/explore/units/868) also operated from nearby St George’s Basin. In 1945, the Royal Navy established two Mobile Naval Air Bases (MONAB), HMS Nabbington at the Nowra airfield and HMS Nabswick at Jervis Bay, in support of the British Pacific Fleet (royalnavyresearcharchive.org.uk).
The Australian Army also had a significant presence in the Nowra area. Militia units from around the country, as well as the 13th Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC) NSW, were primarily employed in coastal surveillance. These units were responsible for the implementation of approximately 80 beach defences between Ulladulla and Lake Illawarra, and the manning of coastal reporting posts at strategic headlands including Bowen Island at the mouth of Jervis Bay. The Tianjara Artillery Range located to the west of Nowra was also utilised regularly for training.
It would be many years after the end of WW2 before the simple wooden crosses marking the men’s graves were replaced with today’s headstones. In July 1947, the Nowra RSL sub branch photographed the individual graves sending copies to the next of kin, including the relatives in England. This simple gesture was reported widely in newspapers throughout NSW in the R.S.L. “Snap Shot” articles and reflects enormously on a community who had lost so many of their own during the war.