This memorial, located about 100m from the National Carillon and next to the HMAS Canberra Memorial at the edge of Lake Burley Griffin, commemorates the contribution of the Merchant Navy during World Wars I and II.
The inscription states: “In honour of those of the Australian Merchant Navy who gave their lives for their country and have no known grave but the sea. They will be remembered for ever more. 1914-1918 1939-1945.”
The Australian Merchant Navy Seamen’s Memorial at the Australian War Memorial lists the names of 182 merchant seamen who lost their lives in World War I. During World War II, 29 Australian merchant ships and 386 merchant seamen were lost in Australian waters.
This is a very fitting tribute to the vital role played by the merchant navy during these conflicts, involving personal sacrifice and heroism which everywhere, not just in Australia, goes largely unrecognised.
The memorial symbolises the Merchant Navy and the sea. It consists of seven columns, a dias, concrete drums and a flagpole. A plaque at the base of the memorial outlines the symbolism portrayed by various elements of the memorial:
• The central granite column symbolises the “Remembrance”;
• The flanking concrete columns symbolise the bows of ships with the irregular tops representing a wave;
• The plan of the memorial depicts the Earth spinning on its north-south axis (I can’t see this one);
• The paving pattern of the dais represents the camouflage patterns used by merchant ships during World War I, while the red crosses represent the hospital ships that were manned by merchant crews;
• The two concrete and glass drums at the extreme front flanks of the memorial (the larger one also acting as the base for the flagpole) represent navigational compass cards;
• The flagpole is a nautical style with a yardarm and gaff.
The memorial was unveiled on 7 October 1990 by His Excellency The Honourable Bill Hayden AC, Governor-General of Australia.
Address: Kings Park, Lake Burley Griffin
Directions: About 100m from the National Carillon