lae war cemetery

In the early months of 1942, Japan enjoyed a crushing superiority in the air, and it was Lae and its neighbouring airfields that were the objects of the first Japanese attack on New Guinea. Lae and Salamaua were bombed on 21 January 1942 by 100 planes, but the land forces did not enter the territory until 7 March, when 3,000 Japanese landed at Lae. There were landings too at Salamaua, followed on 21 July by further landings at Buna and Gona on the east coast in preparation for a drive through the Owen Stanley Mountains across the Papuan peninsula to Port Moresby. The vital stage of the New Guinea campaign dates from that time. Lae became one of the bases from which the southward drive was launched and maintained until it was stopped at Ioribaiwa Ridge, a point within 60 kilometres of Port Moresby.

LAE WAR CEMETERY was commenced in 1944 by the Australian Army Graves Service and handed over to the Commission in 1947. It contains the graves of men who lost their lives during the New Guinea campaign whose graves were brought here from the temporary military cemeteries in areas where the fighting took place. The Indian casualties were soldiers of the army of undivided India who had been taken prisoner during the fighting in Malaya and Hong Kong. The great majority of the unidentified were recovered between But airfield and Wewak, where they had died while employed in working parties. Of the two men belonging to the army of the United Kingdom, one was attached to 2/9th Australian Infantry Battalion and the other was a member of the Hong Kong-Singapore Royal Artillery. The naval casualties were killed, or died of injuries received, on H.M. Ships King George V, Glenearn and Empire Arquebus, and the four men of the Merchant Navy were killed when the S.S. Gorgon was bombed and damaged in Milne Bay in April 1943.

The cemetery contains 2,818 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 444 of them unidentified. It was unveiled by the Governor-General of Australia, Field Marshal Slim, on 21 October 1953.

Prior to the First World War, north-eastern New Guinea and certain adjacent islands were German possessions, and were occupied by Australian Forces on 12 September 1914. Several cemeteries in New Guinea contain the graves of men who died during that war. There is one such grave in Lae War Cemetery, brought in from a burial ground where permanent maintenance could not be assured.

The LAE MEMORIAL, which stands in the cemetery, commemorates more than 300 officers and men of the Australian Army, the Australian Merchant Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force who lost their lives in these operations and have no known grave. Casualties of the Royal Australian Navy who lost their lives in the south-western Pacific region, and have no known grave but the sea, are commemorated on Plymouth Naval Memorial in England along with many of their comrades of the Royal Navy and of other Commonwealth Naval Forces.
  1. AUSTRALIAN COMMANDOS Brown, Leonard John

    SURNAME Brown FORENAME Leonard John UNIT 2/2 Independent Company RANK Private NUMBER WX34012 DATE OF DEATH 27th August 1943 AGE 19 GRAVESITE Lae War Cemetery, Papua New Guinea F.B.13 ADDITIONAL INFORMATION born 09.10.1923, Perth, Western Australia, Australia son of...
  2. ZSU Weber, Malcolm Francis Max

    SURNAME Weber FORENAME Malcolm Francis Max UNIT A.I.F. RANK Sergeant NUMBER NX 45386 DATE OF DEATH 14th April 1945 AGE 26 GRAVESITE Lae War Cemetery,Papua New Guinea Joint grave DD.C.2-4 ADDITIONAL INFORMATION son of Jacob and Lillie Weber husband of Audrey Markwell...
  3. ZSU Hagger, Michael Scott

    SURNAME Hagger FORENAME Michael Scott UNIT A.I.F. RANK Signalman NUMBER VX 66698 DATE OF DEATH 14th April 1945 AGE 23 GRAVESITE Lae War Cemetery,Papua New Guinea Coll.grave DD.C.2-4 ADDITIONAL INFORMATION son of Bertie Leonard and Millicent May...
  4. ZSU Chandler, John Richard

    SURNAME Chandler FORENAME John Richard UNIT A.I.F. RANK Signalman NUMBER WX 27629 DATE OF DEATH 14th April 1945 AGE 23 GRAVESITE Lae War Cemetery,Papua New Guinea Coll.grave DD.C.2-4 ADDITIONAL INFORMATION son of John Thomas and Louise Chandler,Victoria Park,Western...
  5. ZSU Barnes, Thomas Joseph

    SURNAME Barnes FORENAME Thomas Joseph UNIT A.I.F. RANK Lieutenant NUMBER VX 6078 DATE OF DEATH 13th April 1945 AGE 29 GRAVESITE Lae War Cemetery, Lae, Lae District, Morobe, Papua New Guinea. Joint Grave M.C. 3-4 ADDITIONAL INFORMATION born 06.04.1916, Cootamundra, New...