War Memorials in Australia
National Prisoner of War Memorial
Campbell, Australian Capital Territory, 2600
District: Southern Tablelands (ACT)
Orientation: Suburb of Canberra
Location: In grounds of Royal Military College, Duntroon, near College Chapel
Position: 35 17 79 S 149 10 02 E
This was originally the Roman Catholic Our Lady of Christians Chapel in Changi prisoner of war camp, Singapore. It was constructed in 1944 from scraps of wood and corrugated iron that the prisoners scrounged from many sources. It was designed and built by Lieutenant Hamish Cameron-Smith, an architect in civilian life who was serving in the Engineer Corp of the British Army. He was assisted by Lieutenant Hugh Simon-Thwaites, who after the war became a priest, and a band of volunteer labourers.
In 1945 Corporal Max Lee of the Australian War Graves Registration Unit was sent to Changi to help dismantle the camp. He decided that the chapel should be saved. He drew plans, took measurements and carefully took the chapel apart. It was packed into gun boxes and sent to Australia. It remained in a storage shed at Duntroon for more than 40 years. In 1988 the chapel was reassembled and located at Duntroon as a memorial to all Australian POWs. The restoration was carried out by the Royal Australian Engineer Corps and financed by public subscription.
Some parts of the chapel are missing including the memorial plaque and four plaques inscribed with the names of four men who died in the camp.
On the northern side of the grassed area in which the memorial stands is a signboard with photographs of the original chapel as it stood in Changi.
Plaque on north west corner of chapel
NATIONAL PRISONER OF WAR MEMORIAL
THE 35,000 AUSTRALIAN SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN
TAKEN PRISONER OF WAR IN THE FOLLOWING WARS:
|WAR IN SOUTH AFRICA (BOER WAR)||1899 - 1902|
|WORLD WAR I||1914 - 1918|
|WORLD WAR II||1939 - 1945|
|KOREAN WAR||1950 - 1953|
'A FORMER PRISONER OF WAR'
ON 15 AUGUST 1988
Plaque on south west corner of chapel
THIS CHAPEL WAS ORIGINALLY CONSTRUCTED BY
PRISONERS OF WAR IN CHANGI CAMP,
SINGAPORE ISLAND, IN 1944.
ITS CONSTRUCTION WAS AN ACT OF ENDURING FAITH
IN THE MIDST OF EXTREME ADVERSITY.
AFTER THE WAR THE CHAPEL WAS
RETURNED TO AUSTRALIA FOR PRESERVATION.
IT WAS ERECTED ON THIS SITE AND
DEDICATED AS A NATIONAL MEMORIAL TO ALL
AUSTRALIAN PRISONERS OF WAR ON 15 AUGUST 1988.
FUNDS FOR THE ERECTION AND MAINTENANCE OF
THIS MEMORIAL WERE PROVIDED BY
Plaque in lawn on west side of chapel and
IN MEMORY OF
AUSTRALIAN ARMY NURSING SISTERS
WHO BECAME PRISONERS OF WAR
AND ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO DID NOT RETURN
"WE WILL REMEMBER THEM"
Information current to March 2000
Sources: National Memorial to Prisoners of War, pamphlet produced
for dedication ceremony
Sydney Morning Herald, 14 April 1988
Canberra Times, 18 March 1989
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