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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 birth dates — before 1870 they were too old to enlist and after 1904 too young. Once we have names we research military service records and other sources, and we attempt to find descendants. Find out more here.

Who qualified for a war grave in or after the First World War?

Broadly stated, those who served overseas in World War 1 and who died from that service from war-related causes, including veterans who died after returning to Australia, are the focus of our efforts. Of those we find, a few will qualify for war graves.

Why weren't your veterans buried in war graves?

Some may not have fully met the criteria for a war grave — and someone had to apply for one. It seems many people didn't know that. Many veterans died without a family, or were estranged from them, suffering from the searing repercussions of war. If we find they were eligible for a war grave, we liaise with the Office of War Graves.

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 probably exceeding 1,000.

Do you search for nurses?

Yes. In addition to the nurses who served overseas we also research those who served within Australia, caring for badly injured returned soldiers, so we can acknowledge their service.  

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 veteran — 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 capabilities. 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? 

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A large proportion of the materials in headstones is generously supplied by South Australian companies: cement by Adelaide Brighton; reinforcing by Bestbar; heavy-duty adhesive to affix the plaques by Sika; hardware by Bunnings. Cochrane's transports the headstones; 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. Adelaide Cemeteries, Centennial Park, Veterans SA and Pulteney Grammar School have provided much-appreciated support. Their generosity has considerably reduced the cash cost of our projects, adding value to the funding extended by the SA Premier and the Australian Government Department of Veterans' Affairs.