Papua New Guinea

The War Cemeteries

During the 1940s the war dead buried in the field and in many military cemeteries throughout the New Guinea theatre of operations were relocated into the three major war cemeteries at Port Moresby (Bomana), Rabaul (Bita Paka) and Lae.

Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery

Those who died fighting in Papua and Bougainville are buried in the Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery.  Among the 3821 burials are the remains of 702 unidentified Servicemen.

This war cemetery lies 19 kilometres north of Port Moresby.  It was started in 1942 by the Australian Army and is the only Papua New Guinea cemetery to contain white marble headstones and a Stone of Remembrance.

On gently rising ground above the graves is the Cross of Sacrifice.  A rotunda of cylindrical pillars stands on a hill above the cemetery.  These pillars comprise the Memorial to the Missing, commemorating 740 men of the Australian Army (including Papua and New Guinea local forces), the Australian Merchant Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force who lost their lives in operations in Papua and who have no known grave.

Rabaul (Bita Paka) War Cemetery

This cemetery is 48 kilometres from Rabaul.  It is the smallest of the three war cemeteries in Papua New Guinea and contains 1147 burials, including 500 unknown.  Each grave is marked with a bronze plaque set on a low concrete pedestal.

An avenue of bronze panelled stone pylons forms the Rabaul Memorial to the Missing, on which are inscribed the names of those who died in New Britain and New Ireland, and who have no known grave.  Included are the names of 1216 Australian casualties.

A large number of Indian Prisoners of War from Malaya and Hong Kong were liberated from the Japanese by the Australian Army during the 1945 campaign in New Britain, New Ireland and Bougainville.  A total of 614 casualties of the old Indian Army are buried at Bita Paka.

Bita Paka War Cemetery is near the site of the German wireless station captured by the Australian Naval and Expeditionary Force on 11 September 1914, during the first Australian action of World War I to seize New Britain.  Five naval personnel who died in the operation at Rabaul are buried here.  A sandstone memorial located within the cemetery bears testimony to this event.

Lae War Cemetery

The Australian Army Graves Service commenced this cemetery in 1944.  It is located within the town of Lae adjacent to the Botanic Gardens.  It has an entrance of stone pillars joined by stone latticework.  Rising from the forecourt is a wide flight of steps leading to a flat-topped colonnade.  The central span of the colonnade frames a view of the Cross of Sacrifice, with stands on a wide expanse of lawn studded with the bronze plaques that mark the gravesites.

The war cemetery contains 2819 burials, including those of 426 Indian soldiers who were taken prisoner in Malaya and Hong Kong, and who were brought to New Guinea by the Japanese.  Graves marked as unidentified number 444.

The Lae Memorial to the Missing commemorates 328 officers and men of the Australian Army, the Australian Merchant Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force who lost their lives in Papua New Guinea and have no known grave.

History of WW2 in PNG