Rabaul Memorial Back to Search

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Details

Location Rabaul, Blanche Bay, Papua New Guinea
Type memorial
Description

The Memorial takes the form of an avenue of stone pylons leading from the entrance building to the Cross of Sacrifice. Bronze panels bearing the names are affixed to the faces of the pylons. A central stone lectern at the commencement of the avenue carries a bronze plate.

Between 1884 and 1914, New Britain was known as New Pomerania and part of German New Guinea. On the 11th September 1914, in one of Australia's first actions of the 1914-18 war, its troops seized the German wireless station at Bitapaka near Rabaul. After the war, the island became part of the Territory of New Guinea, which was an Australian mandated territory. The site of the wireless station became the War Cemetery. In January 1942, after three weeks of air bombardment, Rabaul was attacked by the Japanese from the sea, and overwhelming odds soon broke the defence. It is estimated that against the original garrison of 1,400 the Japanese landed 17,000 men in the immediate vicinity of Rabaul. The defenders split into small groups and while some 400 managed to escape by sea a great number were killed or captured. Of the latter, some 160 were murdered by the Japanese near Tol in February, whilst most of the remainder, plus some 200 civilians, were drowned when the ship, the Montevideo Maru, was torpedoed and sunk whilst moving them to the Philippines. Nevertheless a number of the original garrison ran the gauntlet of the Japanese patrol and reached Australian territory in small vessels, overlooked when the Japanese commander sent destroyers steaming up and down the coast smashing all the boats to be found. Small forces on New Ireland, which lies near and north-north-east of New Britain, had been attacked and overwhelmed on January 21st, 1942. It was not until November 1944 that New Britain was again the scene of fighting, when the 5th Australian Division landed at Jacquinot Bay, and the 11th Division at Wide Bay. The two Divisions cleared the north and south coasts and bottled up the enemy in the Gazelle Peninsula. Here the Japanese were contained until the final surrender in August 1945, when the number of their troops was found to be nearly 90,000. The Rabaul Memorial commemorates over 1,200 members of the Australian Army (including personnel of the New Guinea and Papuan local forces and constabulary) and the Royal Australian Air Force, who lost their lives in New Britain and New Ireland in January and February 1942 or who were lost as a result of the sinking of the S.S. Montevideo Maru in July 1942 and those in New Britain from November 1944 to August 1945, who have no known grave. Men of the Royal Australian Navy who lost their lives in the south-western Pacific region and who have no graves but the sea, are commemorated on Plymouth Naval Memorial in England along with many of their comrades of the Royal Navy and other Commonwealth Naval Forces.

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Built Not yet discovered
Opened Not yet discovered
Inscription

AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM IN THIS PLACE ARE RECORDED THE NAMES OF OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE BRITISH COMMONWEALTH OF NATIONS WHO DIED DURING THE 1939-1945 WAR IN THE NEW BRITAIN AREA, ON LAND, AT SEA AND IN THE AIR, BUT TO WHOM THE FORTUNES OF WAR DENIED THE KNOWN AND HONOURED BURIAL GIVEN TO THEIR COMRADES IN DEATH

Condition

Good

Names

Showing 8 people of interest from memorial

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JEFFREY, Harry Stevens

Service number VX25734
Lance Sergeant
2nd/22nd Infantry Battalion
Australian Military Forces (Army WW2)
Born 21 Oct 1916

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LEWIS, Norman David

Service number VX40377
Corporal
2nd/22nd Infantry Battalion
Australian Military Forces (Army WW2)
Born 4 Oct 1917

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PAINE, Robert Langsford

Service number SX10876
Private
1st Independent Company
Australian Military Forces (Army WW2)
Born 3 Mar 1913

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MCLENNAN, Donald Munro

Service number VX20553
Private
2nd/22nd Infantry Battalion
Australian Military Forces (Army WW2)
Born 2 Jun 1906

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RUSSELL, John Skelton

Service number VX26521
Lance Sergeant
2nd/22nd Infantry Battalion
Australian Military Forces (Army WW2)
Born 9 Apr 1918

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VALE, August Francis

Service number VX129409
Private
Fortress / Coastal Artillery & Supporting Elements
Australian Military Forces (Army WW2)
Born 3 Sep 1915

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CALLAGHAN, Neill Ross

Service number NX52913
Private
Born 17 Jan 1914

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ROSEWARNE, Clarence William

Service number VX129395
Gunner
Born 18 Mar 1917

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