The Australian War Memorial
's national memorial
to the members of all its armed forces
organisations who have died or participated in the wars of the
Commonwealth of Australia
. The memorial
includes an extensive national military
museum.The Australian War Memorial was opened in 1941, and is
widely regarded as one of the most significant memorials of its
type in the world.
Memorial is located in Australia's capital, Canberra.
It is the
northern terminus of the city's ceremonial land axis, which
stretches from Parliament House on Capital Hill along a line passing through the summit of the
cone-shaped Mt Ainslie to the northeast.
No continuous roadway
links the two points, but there is a clear line of sight from the
front balcony of Parliament House to the War Memorial, and from the
front steps of the War Memorial back to Parliament House.
The Australian War Memorial consists of three parts - the
Commemorative Area (shrine) including the Hall of Memory with the
Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier, the Memorial's galleries
(museum) and Research Centre (records). The Memorial also has an
outdoor Sculpture Garden. The Memorial is open daily from 10am
until 5pm, except on Christmas
Many people include Anzac Parade as part of the Australian War
Memorial because of the Parade's physical design leading up to the
War Memorial, but it is maintained separately by the National
Capital Authority (NCA).
Remembrance Nature Park
, Australia's official
World War I
historian, first conceived a
museum memorial to Australian soldiers while observing the 1916
battles in France. The Australian War Records
was established in May 1917 to ensure preservation of
records relating to the war being fought at the time. Records and relics
were exhibited first in Melbourne and later Canberra.
An architectural competition in 1927 did not produce a winning
entry. However, two entrants were encouraged to represent a joint
design. A limited budget and the effects of the Depression
confined the scope of the
The building was completed in 1941, after the outbreak of World War II
. It was officially opened at 11
a.m. on 11 November 1941 by the then Governor-General Lord Gowrie
himself a former soldier whose honours included the Victoria Cross
. Additions since the 1940s
have allowed the remembrance of Australia's participation in other
more recent conflicts.
Directors of the AWM have included:
- August 1919 - May 1920 — Henry
- 1920 - 1952 — Major John Linton Treloar, OBE
- 1952 - 1966 — Major J. J. McGrath, OBE ( -1998)
- September 1966 — W. R. Lancaster (formerly Assistant Director
of the War Memorial)
- 13 January 1975 — N. J. Flanagan
- 1996 - present — Major General Steve Gower, AO.
Remembrance Nature Park is located behind the War Memorial is the
Canberra which is the terminus of the Remembrance Driveway
system of arboreal
parks, landmarks and
road-side stops between Sydney and Canberra commemorating the 24
World War II and Vietnam War Victoria Cross recipients.
Looking along Anzac Parade to the War
Memorial at the foot of Mount Ainslie
Parade is a short, broad boulevard named in honour of the
soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand
Army Corps. It stretches from near the north shore of
Griffin to the foot of the Memorial proper, along the line
of sight from Parliament House. It separates the
residential suburbs of Campbell and Reid, and is fairly heavily trafficked as a route
between northeastern Canberra (Dickson etc) and Kings Avenue Bridge.
The entrance to the Australian War
Memorial from ANZAC Parade
Along each side of the Parade is a row of monuments commemorating
specific military campaigns or services, such as the Vietnam War
and Australia's wartime nurses. The
monuments are mostly sculptures in a variety of styles ranging from
naturalistic to Modern
of the Parade, near the lake, is paired by monumental sculptures in
the form of gigantic basket handles, donated to the Memorial by
The two monuments are dedicated to
Australia and New Zealand, respectively, and are inspired by the
proverb Mau tena kiwai o te
kete, maku tenei
, "Each of us at a handle of the basket",
signifying the long tradition of cooperation and general closeness
between the two Commonwealth countries.
The symbolic association of the two nations is carried forward in
the vegetation decorating Anzac Parade. Long beds of New Zealand
shrubs line the middle of
the avenue, and behind the two rows of monuments are narrow bands
of Australian eucalyptus trees
the trees are narrow residential streets paralleling the Parade and
separating it from the residential neighbourhoods. In the high
in the eucalyptus trees can
be heard from several blocks away.
The commemorative area
Towards the entrance of the Hall of
Memory, from within.
Detail of the dome from inside the
Hall of Memory.
The Memorial proper is sited on a broad pie slice-shaped lawn at
the northern end of Anzac Parade. The commemorative area is
situated in the open centre of the memorial building, (including
the cloisters to each side and the Hall of Memory under the
building's central dome) and the sculpture garden is on the lawn to
The heart of the commemorative area is the Hall of Memory
a tall domed chapel with a small floor
in the form of an octagon. The walls are lined with tiny
tiles from the floor to the dome.
lies the Tomb of the Unknown Australian
Soldier and other monuments.
Three of the walls, facing east, west, and south, feature stained glass
designs representing qualities
of soldiers. At the four walls facing northeast, northwest,
southeast, and southwest are mosaic images of three soldiers, with
the southwest featuring an image of a service woman (in the image
to the right).
The mosaic and stained glass were the work of the one-armed
Australian muralist Napier Waller
had lost his right arm at Bullecourt during World War I
and learned to write and create his
works with his left arm. He completed his work in 1958.
In front of the Hall of Memory is a narrow courtyard with a
memorial pool surrounding an eternal flame and flanked by sidewalks
and shrubbery, including plantings of rosemary
for remembrance. Above the courtyard to
either side are long cloisters containing the Roll of
, a series of bronze plaques naming the 102,000
Australian servicemen and women killed in conflict. The plaques
include names dating back to the British Sudanese Expedition, the
Second Boer War
, and the Boxer Rebellion
. The entire long wall of the
western gallery is covered with the names of the thousands who died
in World War I. The eastern gallery is covered with the names of
those who died in World War II
The roll shows the names only, not rank or other awards, as "all
men are equal in death". Visiting relatives and friends insert
in the cracks between the bronze
plaques, beside the names of their loved ones that they wish to
honour; many continue to be inserted by the names of those who died
in World War I, and a few even appear by the names of those who
died in the 19th-century campaigns.
A small exhibit in the museum indicates that the famous Breaker Morant
of the Boer War does not
appear in the Roll of Honour, not because he was dishonoured, but
rather because he was not actually a member of the Australian armed
When the Memorial closes each day, there is a ceremony at which
visitors can gather at the entrance, hear a very brief explanation
from a host, and listen as a recording of the "Last Post
" is played. On significant days, a
or a bugler
descends from the gallery, playing
the Last Post.
The commemorative area is the main place in Canberra where Anzac Day
and Remembrance Day
services are held. These
services are normally attended by Federal parliament
representatives and officials from foreign embassies and
Commonwealth high commissions, most notably those from New
The Memorial building
The Memorial is a two-storey building with a floor plan in the
shape of a cross. The building is of Byzantine architecture
strong styling elements of Art Deco
throughout. In 2001, a new, broad annex called ANZAC Hall
was added to the north of the original building. In order to
preserve the view of the original building from Anzac Parade, ANZAC
Hall was designed to be recessed into the grounds below, and hidden
behind a wall.
The upper level is dedicated primarily to World War I (the entire
west wing) and World War II (the entire east wing). In the World
War I area there is extensive material pertaining to the Gallipoli
campaign. Between the wings
lies Aircraft Hall
, which contains a number of complete
aircraft, mostly from the World War II era.
The list of fallen servicemen during
WWII held at the Australian War Memorial
Also between the wings lies the Hall of Valour
, a display
of 61 of the 96 Victoria Crosses
awarded to Australian
; the largest publicly held collection of Victoria
Crosses in the world. There is an individual display for the holder
of each Cross shown there, with a photograph, an excerpt from the
citation that accompanied the award, and usually additional medals
awarded to the same soldier. The relatives of Australian VC holders
often donate or lend the Crosses to the Memorial for safekeeping
and greater public awareness of their honoured kin.
On 24 July 2006 Kerry Stokes
anonymously purchased the 60th medal at auction for a world record
price of A$1,000,000 and asked that it be displayed in the Victoria
Cross Gallery. This medal was awarded to Captain Alfred Shout
combat at the Lone Pine trenches in Gallipoli Turkey. The Victoria
Cross Gallery now has all 9 VCs awarded to Australians at
The lower level contains a theatre, a research area, displays for
the colonial and post-World War II conflicts, and an area for
temporary special exhibitions.
ANZAC Hall is a large annex to the upper level of the memorial,
used for the display of large military hardware. Notable displays
on the Western side include a complete and particularly historic
bomber known as G for George
, a Japanese Ko-hyoteki class midget
sunk during a raid on Sydney Harbour
rare German aircraft such as the Me 262
, and a restored Japanese A6M Zero
, that was flown in combat over New Guinea.
The eastern side includes a World War I aircraft exhibition,
notably displaying a Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a, Pzalz D.XII and
Albatros D.Va, among others.
The building is large and the collections are extensive; a full day
will suffice for only the most cursory examination of its
A gift shop and two coffee shops are on site, one overlooking ANZAC
Hall, called "The Landing Place", and the other some distance away
from the main building, called "The Outpost".
The sculpture garden
The sculpture garden on the west lawn of the Memorial contains a
variety of outdoor monuments. The sidewalk through the garden is
embedded with bronze plaques commemorating various branches of
service, specific units, and historical events. There are also a
number of sculptures, including a gigantic figure of a World War
I-era Australian soldier which was originally located in the Hall
of Memory, before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was placed there.
There is a gun turret from HMAS
, a gun barrel from the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia
and the barrel
from the Amiens Gun
- a huge railroad gun
captured from the Germans during World War I.
This area is used for special displays during annual Memorial Open
Days, and summertime band concerts are held on the nearby