Lutwyche Cemetery

Australian and United States War Graves Section

Type
Cemetery
Region
Greater Brisbane

418 Gympie Road, Kedron 4031

Lutwyche Cemetery was established in 1878. In 1925, Brisbane’s tram network was extended to reach the cemetery. This allowed easier public access for grieving families. After the outbreak of the Pacific War, the Brisbane City Council allotted a portion of the cemetery to military burials. This War Graves Section became the post-war responsibility of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. After the arrival of American forces in Brisbane, the US was also granted its own War Graves Section but it was later moved to Ipswich Cemetery. In 1947, the US service personnel were exhumed and shipped back to the US for interment in domestic cemeteries.

History

By the outbreak of World War Two in 1939, Lutwyche Cemetery was the northern terminus for Brisbane’s tram network. With Brisbane’s older cemeteries at Toowong and Dutton Park have limited burial space, wartime burials had to be directed towards the Lutwyche or Mt Gravatt Cemeteries. Unlike Mt Gravatt Cemetery, Lutwyche Cemetery was easily accessible via public transport and so it was chosen to be the location of those service personnel who died around Brisbane after 1942.

On 28 November 1942, the Brisbane City Council announced that the soldier’s section at Toowong Cemetery was nearly full and that subsequently any future military deaths would be buried at Lutwyche. Council set aside a special section that was to resemble the post-World War I Gallipoli and French war cemeteries. The war graves section had no walls. There was no tiling around the graves that were to be placed around a central memorial. Initially it was planned that plaques instead of headstones would be the grave markers but this changed. The headstones were rectangular with rounded tops and were differentiated only by the inscriptions that record the national emblem or regimental rank, the name, unit, date of death, age and religious symbol if applicable.

Post-war, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission assumed maintenance of the Lutwyche Cemetery’s War Graves Section. The Commission had been established during World War I in an effort to mark, record and maintain the graves of British Commonwealth war casualties. With the onset of World War II, the Commission continued its work, establishing new cemeteries throughout the World in honour of the fallen.

Lutwyche Cemetery’s War Graves Section consists of ten rows of white marble gravestones with a total of 386 Second World War burials, including one of an unidentified Australian airman (RAAF). In cemeteries of more than 40 burials, a Cross of Sacrifice was erected as the central memorial. Reginald Blomfield’s design consisted of a simple cross-mounted on an octagonal base as was placed in Lutwyche Cemetery. As well, in the War Graves Section, there is a Queensland Cremation Memorial commemorating 36 Australians killed in the War whose remains were cremated. The Section has well maintained gardens with low-growing plants and manicured lawn. The Lutwyche Cemetery has several lawns with the graves of other ex-service men and women and their spouses.

In 1942, the United States armed forces established a separate War Graves Section at Lutwyche Cemetery. This was located in the southeast corner facing Gympie Road. The US Section held 11 graves. All were exhumed in June 1942 and transferred to the US War Graves Section at Ipswich Cemetery, where all the American dead were to be concentrated.

After the war, the US Government requested that its service personnel be disinterred for removal for permanent burial in US cemeteries. The US merchantmen Gauchec Victory berthed in Brisbane in November 1947 to carry the exhumed bodies back to the USA. The clearing of the US War Graves Section at the Ipswich was completed by 20 December 1947. As a sign of respect for the US contribution to the defence of Queensland, a coffin holding the body of an unknown US soldier was ceremoniously placed in Brisbane City Hall on 22 December for the public to pay homage. A solemn funeral parade carried this coffin through Brisbane streets to the Newstead Wharf where it was placed aboard Gauchec Victory. Approximately 30,000 Brisbane residents lined the streets for this funeral procession. The last 1,800 American coffins had been transported to Brisbane and sent by ship to the USA by the end of December 1947.

Source/comments

  • BCC Heritage Unit citation
  • JOL photographic collection
  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission - Debt of Honour Register
  • "New Soldier Cemetery", The Courier Mail, (Saturday 28 November 1942, p.3.)
  • Lutwyche Cemetery