After some preliminary Committee discussions, the project commenced on 12 September 2012 when the sub-branch sought guidance from DVA and the AWM about the processes that should be used to decide which Australian conflicts would be appropriate to recognise. The project was managed throughout by sub-branch Honorary Treasurer, Graeme Loughton, AM, DSM, CPA.
Preliminary research was followed by community consultation by placing draft Conflict Selection Criteria on the sub-branch website and asking schools, political representatives and other community organisations to draw community attention to the project. As responses were received and a degree of consensus emerged, the Royal Australian Regiment Association and others were consulted. In December 2016, approvals from State Heritage authorities and Brisbane City Council having been obtained, a funding application for $4,000 was lodged with DVA under the Saluting Their Service program. In early 2017 it became clear that DVA funding would not be provided in time to install the plaques for unveiling on ANZAC Day 2017 so the sub-branch committee, still having an expectation that DVA funding would be forthcoming in retrospect, decided to go ahead with unveilings on ANZAC Day 2017.
The project aim was to update the recognition of Australia’s conflicts on the World War One Memorials in the sub-branch’s area of interest, namely at Keating Park, Indooroopilly, Graceville Memorial Park and Bannerman Park, Oxley. Over the years plaques or plates, without the names of fallen individuals, had been added to these memorials to recognise certain Australian conflicts since WW1 and up to Vietnam, which ended for Australia in 1972. However Australians had fallen in numerous conflicts both before WW1 and after 1972 and they deserved recognition.
The additional conflicts would be recognised by adding an identical plaque to each of the three WW1 Memorials. In two cases a vacant face was available on the Memorial; for the third, one of the previously added plates could be moved to another face to make a face available for the new All Conflicts plaque. To recognise their heritage importance, the World War 2, Korea, etc plaques and plates that had been added to the three WW1 Memorials over the years would remain on the Memorials and the new All Conflicts plaque would list the full range of conflicts to be recognised including WW1 and the other conflicts already recognised by the added plaques and plates. An All Conflicts plaque would also be added to the Croll Memorial Precinct Wall at the sub-branch headquarters for a total of 4 identical plaques.
The All Conflicts plaque is aimed at posterity with the intention of bringing Australia’s military heritage to community attention into the far future. Already in 2016/17, many of the conflicts on the All Conflicts plaque would be unfamiliar to many or most in the community. As well as remembering and honouring the fallen, the sub-branch intended that the list of Australian conflicts should be as comprehensive as possible in order to foster long haul interest in the nation’s military heritage.
The three criteria used for inclusion on the All Conflicts Plaques were that:
Consultations with AWM and DVA established that what the sub-branch included on the All Conflicts plaque would be solely the responsibility of the sub-branch. Therefore it was open to us to use whatever criteria we wished. Using the above criteria and a provisional list of conflicts, the sub-branch went out for community and members’ consultation. Some who responded wanted different criteria (with one saying we should include everywhere that Australians have served whether there were deaths or not and one or two either wanting or not wanting inclusion of the ‘Frontier Wars’).
The AWM Roll of Honour lists 39 conflicts, commencing with Sudan 1885, from which may be deduced a selection criterion that pre federation military deployments on behalf of sovereign Australian entities should be included. However the Maori Wars 1860-64 were not included on the Roll of Honour (further discussed below). The schedules of Repatriation approvals go down to the level of individual operations and list over 100, many of them being peacekeeping or hazardous service i.e. not ‘warlike’ or ‘operational’. Where the AWM and Repatriation lists aligned AND there were deaths (at least one) we came to a list of 20 conflicts that would qualify according to our three criteria.
Being cognisant of the three criteria listed above, of the guidance that the final selection of conflicts was our responsibility alone, and of the objective to aim the All Conflicts plaques at posterity with the intention of bringing Australia’s military heritage to community attention into the far future, the sub-branch gave further consideration to five areas or conflicts for which judgements clearly had to be made as to how closely they matched the selection criteria and whether exceptions should be made. These were:
Australia has been highly involved in most UN peacekeeping operations since they began in 1947 and over 100 are listed under Repatriation legislation. Those that rated as ‘warlike’ or ‘operational’, and where at least one death occurred, are included on the All Conflicts plaque in their own right. In recognition that there were also deaths in peacekeeping operations that were neither ‘warlike’ nor ‘operational’ the sub-branch decided that ‘Peacekeeping 1947 – ‘ deserved its own line on the plaque.
Maori Wars 1860-64. While these occurred before the Australian colonies federated, several then sovereign Australian entities sent formed military bodies to the Maori Wars but without record of fatalities. However Australians certainly died while serving with British regiments. While a line on the plaque proper is not warranted, given the objective of bringing Australia’s military heritage to the attention of posterity, a footnote was deemed appropriate.
Cambodia 1991-99. Although no Australian deaths were suffered, this UN operation was under Australia’s command and control throughout and was a major Australian diplomatic initiative. As there were no deaths a line on the plaque proper is not warranted but given the objective of reaching out to posterity, a footnote was deemed appropriate.
Rwanda 1994-96. Although no Australian deaths were suffered within the time criteria applied by repatriation legislation, the sub-branch was lobbied to recognise that the highly stressful nature of the operation, where murder and atrocities had to be witnessed without intervention, lead to a number of later veteran suicides. Accordingly, a footnote was deemed appropriate.
Frontier Wars. There is no doubt that substantial numbers of deaths occurred during the settlement of Australia. Our research found that deaths were inflicted by settlers, British regiments, Australian police, tribal aborigines and black trackers, the latter being aborigines under police control, but we found no involvement of military forces deployed by sovereign Australian entities for the purpose of applying lethal force and therefore no deaths that would meet our criteria. In this the sub-branch found insufficient reason to depart from the like policies of the Australian War Memorial and the Returned and Services League of Australia. We were aware of the view that involvement by police forces could be considered as ‘paramilitary’ but our final view was that the Frontier Wars would fall outside our criteria. It may be that in future it might seem remiss for the plaque not even to footnote this issue. It is expected that this paragraph will remain on the sub-branch website to explain our view to posterity.
The four plaques were manufactured By Worsell & Co Pty Ltd, Carol Park at a cost of $2780 plus GST and installed by Queensland Heritage Masonry Pty Ltd, Hemmant at a cost of $1495 plus GST. Consultancy costs came to $2160 plus GST. The DVA Saluting Their Service grant was $3636 without GST so that the net cost to the sub-branch of the four plaques was $2979.
The four copies of the All Conflicts Plaque were unveiled and dedicated as part of the sub-branch ANZAC Day Services on 25 April 2017.
Masters of Ceremonies read the following statement at each service as follows: President Glenn Mostyn at the Corinda Dawn Service, Brigadier Brian Wade, AM (Retired) at Indooroopilly, President Glenn Mostyn at Graceville and Flt Lt Ken Brandes, AAFC at Oxley. The statement said:
“Today it is the solemn pleasure, as well as the duty, of Sherwood Indooroopilly RSL Sub-branch to rectify an oversight going back 45 years. Today we remember and honour all of the Australian servicemen and women who have died in the service of their country, in particular those who have fallen since Australia's Vietnam conflict ended in 1972.
Those particular 'recent' conflicts in which Australian boys and girls died were in Somalia, Bougainville, East Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Solomon Islands, and also in some of the many peacekeeping operations where Australians have served since the first such United Nations operation in 1947.
The Memorial you see before you is essentially a World War One Memorial that records the actual names of the boys (and one girl at Graceville) from this part of Brisbane who gave their lives in the First World War.
As you see, over the years plaques and plates have been added showing the conflict names, though not individuals' names, of conflicts since then. These added conflicts include World War Two, Korea, Vietnam and some others but none since 1972. Today we rectify that oversight by listing a total of 20 conflicts in which Australians have died, going back 132 years to the first one in the Sudan in 1885.”
The plaques were unveiled at each location by the following, assisted, except at Graceville and Oxley, by the Masters of Ceremonies listed above: at the Dawn Service at Corinda, Superintendent Mark Plath who was the speaker at the Dawn service and is also a Colonel in the Army Reserve, at Indooroopilly, Major General Murray Blake, AO, MC (Retired), at Graceville, Cr Kate Richards representing the Lord Mayor, assisted by Superintendent Mark Plath, and at Oxley, Cr Steve Griffith, Councillor for Moorooka Ward, assisted by sub-branch Vice President Colin Holbeck OAM.
Prayers of dedication were offered by the padres officiating at each of the Services, namely Fr Geoff Reeder, Sub-branch Padre, at the Dawn Service, Graceville and Oxley, and Fr Michael Chiplin, Rector of St Andrews, Indooroopilly, at the Indooroopilly Service.
Images of the unveilings and of the plaque (all four being identical) follow: