Work has started at the Ipswich General Cemetery on the extension of the memorial walls after a local veteran found 72 unknown servicemen buried in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) plot.
Heroes who came back from the killing fields of WWI had been laying forgotten for more than a century in the Ipswich General Cemetery, until Malaya and Korean War veteran Matt Rennie identified those soldiers as well others throughout the cemetery, through detailed research and cross checking of cemetery and military records.
The Ipswich RSL Sub Branch raised money to pay for the 156 plaques for each of the soldiers buried in the Ipswich General Cemetery though their Adopt a Soldier fundraising program.
Local businesses have also come on board donating materials and labour.
Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said the Ipswich RSL Sub Branch and Mr Rennie had worked tirelessly to ensure these soldiers will finally be recognised.
“The Ipswich community has really got behind the Ipswich RSL Sub Branch and this memorial extension with the plaques are an opportunity to remember those who served the nation, including those who came home carrying the physical and psychological scars of conflict,” Mayor Harding said.
“Ipswich City Council approved a development application to extend the memorial walls at the AIF section at Ipswich General Cemetery in April and it thanks to the generosity of the community, these soldiers are now being given the recognition they deserve.”
Work started today with Australian Army members from 26th Transport Squadron – 9th Force Support Battalion, from RAAF Base Amberley, volunteering their time to remove the hedges that line the AIF plot ahead of the concrete being poured for the foundation of the extended memorial wall.
Ipswich City Council has donated the skip bin while Scotty Mac’s Concreting are set to pour the footings with Boral Concrete donating the concrete while builder David Rowley will be using National Masonry donated blocks to build the wall.
Mr Rennie said he has spent almost 20 years piecing together the mystery of who these men were and how these most iconic war veterans were forgotten.
“This is why we want to extend the wall,” Mr Rennie said.
“So every veteran in the cemetery can go on the wall in recognition of their service.”
The memorial extension is hoped to be completed by Remembrance Day on 11 November.