The memorial stands in the entrance to the cemetery. It has '8' bronze tablets fixed to walls linking the end columns of the building, upon which are engraved the names of members of the Australian Armed Forces.
It commemorates more than 300 officers, men and women of the Australian Army, the Australian Merchant Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force who lost their lives in these operations and have no known grave.
Casualties of the Royal Australian Navy who lost their lives in the south-western Pacific region, and have no known grave but the sea, are commemorated on Plymouth Naval Memorial in England along with many of their comrades of the Royal Navy and of other Commonwealth Naval Forces.
The Japanese attack on New Guinea, a necesary preliminary to the projected invasion of Australia, commenced with heavy air raids on Lae and Salamaua, followed by the landings of troops. At Lae, a town and port at the mouth of the Markham River on the Huon Gulf, 3,000 Japanese landed on the 7th March, 1942.
There were landings, too, at Salamaua. The enemy did not however immediately attempt the conquest of the island, but on the 21st July he landed troops at Buna and Bona on the east coast in preparation for a drive through the Owen Stanley Moutnains across the Papuan peninsula to Port Moresby.
The vital stage of the New Guinea campaign dates from that time. Lae and Salamaua became bases from which this southward drive was launched until it was stopped at Ioribaiwa Ridge, a point within 35 miles of Port Moresby.
When in January 1943, the Japanese renewed their attempts to reach Port Moresby, this time by the Markham and Bulolo valleys, their first objective was Wau, with its airfield. With reinforcements landing on the airfield only 800 yards from the enemy, the attack was held and the Japanese withdrew in February. Thereafter the initiative passed to the Australian troops who steadfastly forced the Japanese back.
On the 11th September, 1943, Salamaua was captured and on the 16th September, after attack by seaborne and airborne forces, Lae was taken.