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Sherwood Indooroopilly RSL Sub-branch Inc

Final Report

Plaques to Remember and Honour Australia’s Fallen of All Conflicts

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.   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 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. Plaques or plates, without individuals’ names, had been added to these memorials over the years 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 means of recognition of the additional conflicts would be by adding identical plaques 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.  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. Recognising their heritage importance, the plaques and plates that had been added to the three WW1 Memorials over the years to recognise World War 2, Korea, etc would remain in place and the new All Conflicts plaque would list the full range of conflicts to be recognised including WW1 and those already recognised by the added plaques and plates.

The All Conflicts plaques are aimed at posterity with the intention of bringing Australia’s military heritage to community attention into the indefinite future.  Already in 2016/17, many of the conflict names 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 intends that the list of Australian conflict names 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:

   1. the conflict is recognised for inclusion in the Australian War Memorial’s ‘Roll of Honour’ https://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/roll_of_honour/introduction.htm, AND

  2.  the conflict rates in Repatriation legislation as 'warlike' or 'operational', AND

  3.  at least one Australian was killed in the conflict.

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 two 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.

Consideration of the Posterity Principle

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 indefinite future, the sub-branch gave further consideration to five areas or conflicts for which judgements had to be made as to how closely they matched the selection criteria and whether exceptions should be made. These were:

  • Peacekeeping
  • Maori Wars
  • Cambodia
  • Rwanda
  • Frontier Wars

Peacekeeping

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, other tribal aborigines and black trackers, 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.

Image of the All Conflicts Plaque

An image of the final proof of the All Conflicts plaque before manufacture is below.

F6119A

Manufacture, Installation and Costings

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.

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