Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a memorial and a cemetery?
A war memorial is generally a monument, plaque, statue or other edifice to commemorate those who served, died or were injured in war. In some cases, a war memorial can be an entire building, perhaps containing a museum, and can serve as a meeting place for services. Generally speaking, there are no burials or cremations contained within a memorial.
A cemetery contains burials, cremated remains and headstones. However, a cemetery may also contain memorials such as Memorials to the Missing and occasionally a commemorative plaque or monument.
What is the difference between an official overseas memorial and a privately-constructed overseas memorial?
Official Overseas Memorials are those which are maintained by the Australian Government through the Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG). Generally, they have been funded and constructed by the Government.
Privately-constructed Overseas Memorials are those which have been funded and constructed on the initiative of organisations, such as unit associations, ex-service associations, individuals and other entities. These memorials are maintained through arrangements made by those responsible for their construction, which may include arrangements with local authorities or local residents.
What is the role of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Office of Australian War Graves?
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), based in the United Kingdom, is responsible for the official commemoration of all Commonwealth casualties of the two world wars and the maintenance of those commemorations in perpetuity. In general terms, the Commission maintains war cemeteries and individual war graves in civil cemeteries. Australia is a member of the Commission.
By formal agreement, the Office of Australian War Graves maintains the CWGC cemeteries and war graves in Australia and PNG. The Office also commemorates the war dead of conflicts after the Second World War, and those veterans of all wars and conflicts who die after their service from a war caused condition.
In addition, as noted above, OAWG has the responsibility of constructing and maintaining Australia’s official war memorials overseas. In doing these things, OAWG provides information and other services to the veteran community and general public. Beyond regular maintenance, OAWG has an ongoing program of refurbishments and extensions.
For further information, visit our web site.
Why aren’t there official memorials at all Australian battle sites?
Unfortunately, it is not possible for the Australian Government to fund memorials on the many hundreds of Australian battle sites around the world.
The Government provides annual funding to the CWGC and OAWG to ensure the graves of our war dead and the memorials to those who have no known grave are maintained to the highest standard. Additional funding is provided for the maintenance of official memorials overseas.
I could not find the memorial I was searching for...
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How can I find out if someone is buried in a cemetery or commemorated on a Memorial to the Missing?
For casualties of the two world wars, you can look at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site. The CWGC ‘Debt of Honour Register’ is a database listing the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars including the 23,000 cemeteries, Memorials to the Missing and other locations worldwide where they are commemorated. The register can also be searched for details of the 67,000 Commonwealth civilians who died as a result of enemy action in the Second World War.
The minimum information we need to search for a grave or commemoration is the:
- person's name, and
- conflict in which they served.
More information can speed up the process, such as:
- Service (Navy, Army or Air Force);
- Service Number;
- date and place of death.
Please note that OAWG can only give out information regarding the site of the official commemoration of a veteran, which is not necessarily the place of burial or the place ashes may have been scattered, in cases where the veteran has been privately commemorated by the family.
I want to visit an overseas cemetery or memorial. Is it a safe area?
You should always consult the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade web site when travelling overseas. To get pre-recorded messages for travel advisories call 1300 139 281 (local call cost within Australia).
Can DVA assist me with restoration of a private memorial that exists overseas?
Yes, depending upon certain eligibility requirements. To find out more about possible funding, go to the Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG) grants web site or call the OAWG Official Commemorations and Memorials team, on 02 6289 6054 (International callers: +61 2 6289 6054