THE STORY OF THE GERALDTON WAR CEMETERY


Compiled by the late Mr. A.C. Burns OAM, J.P. C.D

With befitting reverence and dignity, there took place on Sunday October 1st 1950, before a large attendance at the Geraldton War Cemetery, the unveiling of The Cross of Sacrifice. Those included the Mayor of Geraldton, Dr. J. McAleer, Naval Officer Commanding Fremantle, Captain H.L. Howding, G.O.C. Western Command rep, LT/CoLa.J Anderson, O.C. Western Area R.A.A.F. W/Com N.F. Ford. Col W.A. Mansbridge R.S.L. State Executive, President Geraldton R.S.L. Sub Branch Mr. A.T. Williams, President Geraldton Air force Association Mr. Vic Askew and the Imperial War Graves Commission.

The three services were represented in the sentinels at the Cross of Sacrifice. The smartly uniformed Guard of Honour, under Lt. O.M. Jones from 11/44th battalion Geraldton, Navy personnel from H.M.A.S Karangi, paraded with R.S.L. members, Army Cadets, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides. Mr. A.T. Williams President of the Geraldton R.S.L Sub Branch unveiled The Cross of Sacrifice, and laid the Geraldton R.S.L. Sub-branch wreath. Beautiful wreaths were then laid at the base of the Cross of Sacrifice, from the Navy, Army. R.A.A.F, R.S. L. Women’s Auxiliary, H.M.A.S Karangi, Boys Scouts, Girls Guides, a Mother, The Imperial War Graves Commission, Air force Association, Licensed Victualers Association, and mothers of South Australia. Music was by the Perth City Band.

The Geraldton War Cemetery, is situated in the Geraldton Civil Cemetery, Eastward Road, Utakarra. It honours those who lost their lives on service in the Geraldton area, while serving with the Australian Armed Services during World War 2. Plans of the Geraldton War Cemetery were drawn up in 1948. Work commenced 1949, by A.T. Brine & Sons contractors of Perth, who constructed the Geraldton War Cemetery, and the Cross of Sacrifice ahead of time.

Mr. Kilminster, Municipal Engineer, Geraldton Council, was appointed supervisor of the work. During Geraldton’s Centenary Celebrations, September 23rd to October 1st 1950, an important feature of the programme was the unveiling Ceremony of the Cross of Sacrifice, at the Geraldton War Cemetery.

The Geraldton War Cemetery, is the second of the burial places in Western Australia, and the fourth in the Southern Hemisphere after 1939-45 war, the first being a Flag Pole erected on a ornamental base of stone work. In all the Commissions War Cemeteries the central monument is the Cross of Sacrifice on an ornamental base of stone work in front of the graves to form an assembly for holding ceremonies. A symbol, which can be accepted by people of every faith.

There are two service plots “Plot A”, containing 57 graves, and “Plot B”, with 26 graves. Total of 83 graves of ex-service men died or were accidentally killed from various parts of Australian the Geraldton area during the World War 2. The deceased included 22 Airmen who were killed in four separate accidents near Geraldton in1943. On another day 8 were killed together while training at the Geraldton airport, which was a major training centre during the 2nd World War.

The graves are all marked by a Headstone standing (2’8”) 813 mm above ground, (“15”) 381mm wide, and (3”) 76mm thick. To the standard design used by The Imperial War Graves Commission throughout the Empire. On the face of each headstone is carved a regimental badge, an inscription, and where desired next-of-kin, and a religious emblem.

All graves are covered with re-enforced concrete slabs projecting (3”) 76mm above the ground a concrete kerb surrounds the plot with a infilling of granite chips. The first burial took place on the 9th December 1942, the area was virgin bush, hurriedly cleared at the time the Japanese entered the 2nd World War. There were two earlier deaths one 10th July 1941, and one 24th October 1941, who were later buried from another grave.

A “Pergola”, with stone pillars, overhead, between the pillars is a stone rail inscribed “Geraldton War Cemetery”. The Pergola gives entrance from Eastward Road through a wrought iron gate. The Eastward road boundary is fenced with stone pillars, with precast re-enforced concrete rails in between.
The remaining boundaries are defined by plantings of hardy trees and shrubs. A side entrance on the East boundary from the civil cemetery has been provided.

“TERMINATION OF THE 2ND WORLD WAR”

For the purpose of the Imperial War Graves Commission the 2nd World War, will be deemed to terminate on the 31st December 1947. After that date NO further burials may be effected in any War Cemetery. This instruction covers burials of deceased service personnel whose deaths occur whilst serving, as well as of those whose deaths occur after discharge and are under the Repatriation Department.

All War Cemeteries will be definitely closed for burials on 31st December 1947, after which date all burials will be effected in the Civil Cemeteries.

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