WHO WE ARE
We are a group of South Australians who were inspired by the efforts of people in Tasmania to locate the graves of soldiers and nurses who had served their country, returned to Australia and now lie in unmarked graves.
In 2010, John Trethewey, a Tasmanian historian researching World War 1 veterans, discovered that some were in unmarked graves. That led to the Families and Friends of the First AIF in Tasmania starting The Headstone Project. After eight years of effort, led by Andrea and Ron Gerrard — researching, finding families, planning, fundraising and erecting headstones — the group dedicated the last of 316 previously unmarked veterans' graves in Hobart's Cornelian Bay cemetery in December 2018.
John Brownlie and Neil Rossiter were the duo that developed The Headstone Project South Australia from 2016 to 2018. They set about engaging sponsors, and their first headstone was unveiled in 2017. Now, with 30 members, we are entering an exciting phase with a stream of research leading to regular dedications of graves.
Groups in other states are getting under way. Please get in touch to find out more.
WHY WE ARE
The exhortation "Lest we forget" is well known and, especially after recent remembrances during the centenary of World War 1, most people would think that as a nation we had indeed remembered everyone who had served in that monstrous abomination of 1914–1918.
But Australians have forgotten these people who served, were lucky not to have been among more than 60,000 who were killed, and in various states of mental and physical health faced the years that followed. In The Headstone Project we don't believe the forgetting has been wilful, or careless — just the result of not realising. That's invariably the reaction of people who hear about what we are doing, and why we are immensely gratified that so many Australians immediately want to support us.
These two short videos show what combatants went through during one battle — the Battle of the Somme — and the reflections of some of the men who served and survived what is almost beyond our imagination.