War memorials

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War memorials fulfil our need to recognise, remember and learn about the profound losses and achievements of war:

It is not only for ourselves that we have erected this visible remembrance of great deeds, but rather that those who come after us and have not experienced the horrors of war, or realised the wanton destruction and utter futility of it all, may be inspired to devise some better means to settle international disputes other than by international slaughter.

His Excellency, the Governor Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthven, at the unveiling of the SA National War Memorial, 25 April 1931

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What is a war memorial?

A war memorial is a commemorative object intended to remind us of the people who served in and died as a result of war. War memorials may take many forms, but common to all of them is the intention that they remind us of those we have lost to war.

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Forms and dedication of memorials


War memorials range in form, from simple memorial plaques and honour rolls to grand museums and monuments. Examples include:

  • gates
  • columns
  • walls
  • arches
  • crosses such as the Cross of Sacrifice
  • obelisks
  • statues
  • cairns
  • stones including Stones of Remembrance
  • cenotaphs

There are places dedicated as war memorials that also serve a further practical purpose, such as:

  • gardens
  • pavilions
  • pools
  • halls
  • hospitals
  • lighthouses

Despite differing ideas about an individual war memorials form, purpose, artistic merit, cost or location, all memorials have a shared intention of reminding us of those we have lost to war.

To view different forms and features of memorial, click on the links to overseas war memorial locations on this page.

See also:


War memorials can be categorised according to:

  1. by whom they are dedicated
  2. to whom they are dedicated
  3. where they are

1. By whom

There are public memorials, private memorials, official government memorials and unofficial memorials. There are memorials dedicated on behalf of the nation or the State, memorials dedicated by and to specific branches of the services or military units, and memorials dedicated by businesses or by private individuals or families.

2. To whom

There are memorials dedicated to all who have served and others dedicated to all who have died. There are memorials dedicated to those who served or died in particular wars, battles, campaigns or events, while others are dedicated to all who have served or died from a state, town or district. Memorials to the missing commemorate those with no known grave.

Find out more about Memorials to the Missing.

3. Where

Battle exploit or battlefield memorials are sited near where those they commemorate fell in given battles. Prisoner of War (POW) memorials may be at the site of the former POW camps. War memorials can sometimes be found where units were or are based.

See also

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Memorials to the Missing

Vast numbers of casualties of the First and Second World Wars were never found or never positively identified.

Over 35,000 Australians from these wars have no known grave. However, each Australian who has died during war is commemorated by a Memorial to the Missing both in Australia and across the world. See the Memorials to the Missing page for details of memorials in Australia and overseas.

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Australian regional memorials

Australian regional memorials have long been at the heart of community commemoration of our servicemen and women. Each Anzac Day and Remembrance Day local communities gather around town memorials to commemorate those who left their community to join other service personnel in the defence of freedom.

Places of Pride, the National Register of War Memorials is an Australian War Memorial initiative recording the location and images of every publicly accessible memorial in Australia. RSL sub-branches, community organisations, schools, and individuals are encouraged to record and upload their local memorials to the website. Places of Pride allows users to explore the memorials of Australia, including an interactive map and search, connecting individuals with community memorials, and commemorating those who have served our country.

Origins, forms and ongoing significance

In many regional towns, even those settled after the First World War, memorials were built to commemorate the impact of the war. Since the Second World War and subsequent conflicts, many of these memorials have been updated and more continue to be built.

In 1966, the policy was introduced of repatriating war dead back to Australia for burial if possible. Prior to that, local war memorials were especially important in giving family and friends a focal point for remembering.

In Australia, generally only the names of those who served and died are inscribed on monuments and honour rolls, preserving them in the local memory. However, some monuments also include the names of people from the district who served and returned. This distinguishes Australia from British military tradition, which gives individual honours on monuments only to the dead.

Regional war memorials come in a multitude of forms. The memorial obelisk is a familiar sight in town centres and parks, as are columns, gates and memorial stones and cairns. Statues of mostly First World War soldiers, known as 'Digger memorials', are also a distinctive feature in regional towns.

An example of a unique regional memorial is that found in the north-western N.S.W. township of Tamworth. With Federal and State assistance, the Tamworth community raised $190,000, to erect a memorial dedicated to the single horse that returned to Australia from the First World War.

Newcastle sculptor Tanya Bartlett was commissioned to create a statue that commemorated all horses that died in the war. The bronze horse and trooper, with four large bronze plaques which tell of the exploits of the Light Horse during the First World War was unveiled by Major General W.B. Digger James AC MBE MC on 29 October 2009.

Today, as Anzac Day and Remembrance Day services continue to draw increasing crowds, regional memorials provide an ongoing focus for commemorative ceremonies. As Australia's population grows and settlements expand, more regional memorials such as the Tamworth memorial are being built to service community needs.

Grants for local memorials

Saluting Their Service (STS) commemorations grants are available to restore, preserve, upgrade and improve access to community war memorials. These grants also provide opportunities to build new community focussed memorials where none already exist.

You can find out more about the eligibility requirements and how to apply for an STS commemorations grant.

Who can create a local Honour Board or Roll of Honour?

Local organisations or councils wishing to create a local memorial incorporating an Honour Board or Roll of Honour may freely access DVA published Nominal Roll website data. This information may be downloaded, displayed, printed and reproduced for personal, non-commercial use or use within your organisation. DVA asks that you acknowledge the source of any material used.

Because such Honour Boards and Rolls of Honour are not ‘official’ memorials for which the Australian Government takes responsibility, it is up to you as the project instigator to set your own inclusion criteria, e.g. listing veterans born in the particular area, or those who enlisted from the area etc.

You need permission from the Department of Defence to use the Service badge/s.

See also

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Australian state memorials

Each Australian state and territory has a principal memorial that serves as a permanent shrine and focal point for the major commemorative ceremonies in that capital city. These memorials were completed and dedicated before the end of the First World War in the 1920s and 30s as the death toll of servicemen and women rose. They represent the homage paid by the governments and the people to their fellow Australians who fought and died on their behalf.

The losses and successes of the Second World War and Australia's later wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations are recognised at the state level by amendments to, and more broadly worded rededications of the principal memorials, together with further specifically dedicated memorials.

Following is a list of Australian state and territory memorials.

Australian Capital Territory

The Australian War Memorial, dedicated 1941, serves as the centre for commemorations in Canberra.

For more information visit:

New South Wales

The Anzac Memorial, first dedicated 1934 and rededicated 1984, is in Hyde Park, Sydney and serves as the centre for commemorations in New South Wales.

For more information visit:

Northern Territory

The Darwin Cenotaph, dedicated in 1921, is in Bicentennial Park, at the Esplanade, Darwin and serves as the centre for commemorations in the Northern Territory.

For more information visit:


The Queensland National Anzac Memorial, dedicated in 1930, is in Anzac Square, Brisbane and serves as the centre for commemorations in Queensland.

For more information visit:

South Australia

The South Australian National War Memorial, dedicated in 1931, is on the corner of North Terrace and Kintore Avenue, Adelaide and serves as the centre for commemorations in South Australia.

For more information visit:


The Tasmanian War Memorial, dedicated in 1925, is in Queen's Domain, Hobart and serves as the centre for commemorations in Tasmania.

For more information visit:


The Shrine of Remembrance, dedicated in 1934, is in Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne and serves as the centre for commemorations in Victoria.

For more information visit:

Western Australia

The State War Memorial, first dedicated 1929 and rededicated in 2005, is in King's Park, Perth and serves as the centre for commemorations in Western Australia.

For more information visit:

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Overseas war memorials

The department maintains most of the memorials on the following list. It should be noted, however, that not all locations listed here host official memorials. Some are privately built and maintained.

You can also get additional information about Australia’s war dead in the countries listed below or by visiting Cemeteries Overseas and Memorials to the Missing:

Belgium | Brunei Darrussalam | Crete | Egypt | France | Indonesia | Israel | Libya | Malaysia | New Zealand | Papua New Guinea | Thailand | Türkiye | United Kingdom | United States of America


The First World War:

You can also see the memorials in historical perspective by visiting:

Brunei Darrussalam

The Second World War:


The Second World War:


The Second World War:


The First World War:

You can also see the memorials in historical perspective by visiting:


The Second World War:


The First World War:


The Second World War:


The Second World War:

New Zealand

Papua New Guinea

The Second World War:



The First World War:

United Kingdom

The First and Second World Wars:

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Overseas Privately-Constructed Memorial Restoration Program

The Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA), on behalf of the Australian Government, administers the Overseas Privately-Constructed Memorial Restoration Program.

This grants program aims to assist Australian veterans and other individuals in the restoration and preservation of existing military unit and battle memorials, which have been constructed overseas.

Whilst DVA is not responsible for these memorials, the Government has made funding available to assist with their restoration and preservation in the form of this grant. Any individuals, non-commercial organisations or community groups, who have an interest in seeing a particular pre-existing overseas memorial restored, can apply for the funding with their particular project plan.

To be eligible, memorials must be directly commemorative of Australia’s military involvement, including wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations. Memorials must be pre-existing and on public display. Preference will be given to memorials constructed by Australian veterans and Australian veteran associations. Memorials constructed by other individuals or agencies will be considered on the condition that the memorial in question is commemorative of Australian Military service. While funding will be granted for restoration, ongoing routine maintenance will not be eligible for this funding.

More information about the Overseas Privately-Constructed Memorial Restoration Program and how to apply for this funding is provided in Overseas Privately-Constructed Memorial Restoration Program Guidelines. You will find a link to these guidelines below along with other supporting documentation necessary for the application of this grant.

Submissions from interested parties should be forwarded to the Overseas Memorials Directorate for assessment and all applications will be considered by the grants committee for recommendations to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.

For further information on submissions, after reading the guidelines below, please phone 1800 VETERAN 1800 838 372 or email the Overseas Memorials Directorate at: overseas.memorials [at] dva.gov.au

Information on OPCMRP grants from 2008-2019 (PDF 222KB) is available.

Information on recent grants is now available on the Australian Government Grants register: GrantConnect Homepage: GrantConnect (grants.gov.au).  

Supporting documentation


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