A new state-of-the-art war memorial is on the drawing board to fill more than a 65-year gap in Warrnambool's armed services history.
Warrnambool RSL, with the support of the city council, is set to seek planning approval for a second memorial, tipped to be a national tourist attraction.
The interactive memorial, unique to regional Australia, will list the names and service records of about 12,000 Warrnambool and Moyne servicemen and women. Warrnambool RSL president John Miles said the new addition, expected to cost about $330,000, would be built on land behind the existing stone monument at the end of Liebig Street.
Concept plans have been drawn up by a specialist architect. An interactive touchscreen will be housed under a pagoda-style roof, providing searchable information on those involved in conflicts up to the present day.
Warrnambool’s existing memorial makes little reference conflicts beyond the First World War, and unlike names engraved in stone, the computer-based lists can be updated.
“The new one will cover all conflicts and it can be added to all the time,” Mr Miles said.
“It’s very significant for Warrnambool.”
The RSL is already working to secure funding for the project from government and philanthropic trusts. A community fund-raising campaign will also be launched. The memorial is due for completion in August 2018 to coincide with the centenary of Anzac celebration.
Mr Miles said the RSL expected the memorial would become something of a tourist attraction.
“I think it will be the only one like it. It will be a big draw card for Warrnambool.”
Warrnambool mayor Kylie Gaston agreed. “This is going to be one of the most unique memorials in the nation and certainly has great potential to drive tourism,” she said.
“We’re excited about the plans they’ve put together, people coming will be able to look at the interactive screen and find information about family members.
“It’s going to be done incredibly professionally and become a point of reference.”
New memorial to put faces to the names
A new interactive war memorial planned for Warrnambool will help put faces to the names of thousands of south-west men and women who have served their country.
Warrnambool RSL and the city council have united on the project to create a second memorial that will give proper recognition to servicemen and women post World War I.
The memorial will feature a touchscreen allowing people to search the names and service records of those involved in conflicts including World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Australia’s peace-keeping efforts.
RSL memorabilia officer David McGinness has been given the mammoth task of co-ordinating the collection of names for the project.
Under the plans, the memorial will provide basic service records and a photo of all those who served.
Mr McGinness said being able to put a face to a name would “speak volumes”.
“We can go across and see the names on (on the existing memorial), but then you go ‘OK, but what did they look like? Who were they? You don’t know,” he said.
“To build this portfolio up for the memorial, it’s a massive task.”
Mr McGinness began about eight months ago. “I’ve just completed sifting through our World War II side of things. What started off with about 15,000 names I think it was I’ve got it down to 7800, that’s including women,” he said.
“That’s people from Warrnambool, born, enlisted and their residential address in Warrnambool and also the Moyne Shire.”
Historian James Affleck has gathered the numbers on Korea (45 from Warrnambool) and Vietnam (190), but Mr McGinness said there would still be additions to be made.
“That’s why we need to get it out there to bring the people forward so we can confirm,” he said.
Architect and war memorial specialist Max Chester has drawn up plans for the state-of-the-art memorial. A touchscreen will be housed under a pagoda-style structure and 10 bronze plaques will represent the 10 conflicts Australians have been involved in since 1918, including special recognition of women and indigenous involvement.
At dusk each night a screen of water will come down and a projector will show the Menin Gate at midnight and a silhouette of a bugler will play The Last Post and The Ode will be read.
The project will cost about $330,000. The state government has contributed $80,000. A grant for $40,000 has been submitted to the federal government. The Warrnambool City Council will contribute $20,000 and provide the administrative and technical co-ordination for the project. The Warrnambool RSL will contribute $20,000. The RSL hopes to source a further $80,000 from local foundations. A fund-raising campaign is hoping to raise about $100,000.
The project will be officially launched in late October or early November this year.