FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do you find a veteran's unmarked grave?
We check burial records provided by the cemetery and walk the cemetery with a map, looking for bare-earth plots. We look for males and their year of birth — before 1870 they were too old to enlist and after 1900 too young. We then research their military service records and other sources, and we attempt to find their descendants.
Who qualified for a war grave?
Those who served overseas in World War 1, including those who died after returning
Why weren't these soldiers buried in war graves?
The main reason is that someone had to apply for a war grave. It seems many people didn't know that. Also, many of these men died without a family, or were estranged from them, often because of what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder. Essentially, nobody remembered their service to Australia.
Why do you only search for World War 1 veterans?
It's a question of resources, with the number of World War 1 veterans to trace in South Australia being about 1,000.
Do you search for nurses?
Yes — especially if a family approaches us and can tell us their relative's surname before and after her marriage. All nurses were required to be unmarried on enlistment, and those who married are very difficult to trace through currently available records. If census records are released it will become very much easier.
Who erects and pays for the headstones?
Volunteers of The Headstone Project erect them, usually helped by people in the local community. The cost is about $600 per soldier — much less than it would be without the support of our in-kind sponsors. In 2019 we received seed funding of $10,000 — the first of three such annual payments — from South Australian Premier Steven Marshall. This has made a huge difference to our capacities. Also in 2019, the federal Department of Veterans' Affairs started a two-year pilot project offering up to $450 to pay for bronze plaques.
What do you mean by "in-kind" sponsors?
A large proportion of the materials in headstones is generously supplied by South Australian companies: cement by Adelaide Brighton Cement; reinforcing by Bestbar; heavy-duty adhesive to affix the plaques by Sika; hardware by Bunnings. Cochrane's transports the headstones and materials; the Department for Corrections manufacture them. We've had excellent coverage by Channel 7 News, ABC News, The Sunday Mail, and The Recorder, Port Pirie. The Adelaide Cemeteries Authority, Centennial Park, SA Veterans' Affairs and Pulteney Grammar School have provided collegial support. Their generosity has considerably reduced the cash cost of our projects.