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War Cemeteries and Memorials

Date : 21 / 03 / 2015
Author : Jim Linton - VK3PC

Many who left the shores of Australia to serve in WWI did not return. The same happened during WWII. One of the war graves and memorials for fallen Australians is Polygon Wood in Belgium. There are many overseas sites of significance including those in France, Malta, The Philippines, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea. At Polygon Wood a large mound known as the Butte used for training by the Belgian Army before WWI, now stands a memorial to the 5th Australian Division.

Polygon Wood was destroyed in the battle. It has been re-built with walking tracks, and to honour those who served the Great War, it has a large cemetery. It contains the graves of many soldiers, in fact 2,103 burials have been conducted with full honours, and 428 are identified. Work on the cemetery by Australians began at Polygon Wood soon after the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. Many Australians now visit Polygon Wood, its ‘Brothers in Arms’ memorial and stop at the ANZAC Rest Café, often tracing the footsteps of family members who served in the area in WWI.

To honour those at Polygon Wood, a commemorative callsign OP0PPY will be activated on April 25, ANZAC Day. Philippe Haverhelst ON8PV reports that a lot of remembrance occurs at that time, that will be joined by OP0PPY using an ICOM 7400 feeding a Hexbeam on CW and Phone.

The memorial at Polygon Wood is similar to that commemorating the Australian 1st Division at Pozieres on the Somme. It is a tall obelisk with the rising sun emblem of the Australian Imperial Force, and underneath a large plaque which reads 'To the Officers Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 5th Australian Division who fought in France and Belgium 1916 - 1917 - 1918.' Beneath these words is a list of the battles, which include of course Polygon Wood. At the bottom the main inscription is repeated in French. In 1935, the memorial was visited by the Prime Minister of Australia, Joseph Lyons, when he toured the Western Front.


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