The Niches

The Niches of Remembrance represent each of the principal theatres of war in which Australians served during the Great War. The niches are set into the walls of the Hall of Memory. Each is 8 metres high by 3.7 metres wide. There is a niche for the Gallipoli campaign, another for the war on the Western Front, a third for Egypt and the Sinai-Palestine campaign and the fourth lists the principal battles fought by the Royal Australian Navy.  The lists under each main heading show major campaigns, battles or areas of operation.The inlaid pattern of the marble of the floor of each niche is a stylised rising sun or general service badge worn by the Australian Imperial Force.  In the centre of each is set a stone bought from each of these theatres of operation including Gallipoli, Flanders, Palestine and New Guinea.

It is not known exactly how these lists were compiled during the Memorial’s pre-building phase. In the hundred plus years that have passed since the end of the Great War the collective memory of many of that conflict’s actions has disappeared with the passing of the men who were actually there.  There is some minor evidence of correspondence between architect Bruce Dellit and official historian Charles Bean probably with other input from sculptor Rayner Hoff and ex-service organisations via the Memorial Trustees during the 1930s.  On that basis, the lists most probably represent a compilation of campaigns and actions that were being discussed by Battlefield Nomenclature Boards at the time and which were actions most significant in the minds of the ex-servicemen who actually participated in them.  


On this day

On this day
3 June

1942 — Battle of MIDWAY began. This decisive victory by the US Navy over the Japanese Navy shifted the balance of sea power in the Pacific and forced Japan to abandon plans to attack New Caledonia, Fiji and Samoa. Japanese losses were 4 aircraft carriers, 1 cruiser, 248 aircraft, and over 3,000 sailors.  American losses were 1 aircraft carrier, 1 destroyer, 150 aircraft, and 307 men

1944 — 78 Squadron, RAAF, carried out the last major air combat by the RAAF in WW2, off BIAK Island, New Guinea. 10 enemy planes were shot down for the loss of one Australian plane and pilot

1969 — HMAS MELBOURNE collided with USS FRANK E EVANS in the South China Sea.  EVANS was cut in half and 74 of her crew were killed