Ipswich RSL Sub Branch stalwart Matt Rennie.
Ipswich RSL Sub Branch stalwart Matt Rennie.

Tenacious veteran scores big win for lost soldiers

NEW memorial walls to be built in the Ipswich General Cemetery to honour ‘forgotten’ soldiers who were buried without any recognition of their service have been approved by the council.

Identifying former servicemen and the roles they played in conflicts of years gone by has been Ipswich RSL Sub Branch stalwart Matt Rennie’s mission for the past 15 years.

Ipswich City Council has now approved two 4.5 metre long and 1.1 metre high concrete walls in the Australian Imperial Forces section of the cemetery.

Artist's impression of Australian Imperial Force section with two new walls in Ipswich Cemetery.
Artist's impression of Australian Imperial Force section with two new walls in Ipswich Cemetery.

They will be painted to match the existing L-shaped walls built 15 years ago and will hold brass plaques to commemorate the service of 157 soldiers who previously weren’t recognised.

The list of servicemen has been approved by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ Office of Australian War Graves.

Earlier this year Mr Rennie was awarded the RSL Meritorious Service Medal, which is the highest award the organisation can give to a member over and above a life membership for his more than 30 years of continuous service.

The soldiers he has identified in the cemetery either didn’t have anything on their headstone to identify their service or didn’t have a headstone at all.

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He believes he will eventually identify more than 200 soldiers.

Mr Rennie said he had found 72 veterans buried in the cemetery who came from the Sandy Gallop mental home.

“They’d been disowned,” he said.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said the new development was an important way of paying the community’s respects to servicemen and women.

“The sacrifices made by the members of our armed forces have helped to build the free and prosperous society that we enjoy today,” she said.

“The new markings are an opportunity to remember those who served the nation, including those who came home carrying the physical and psychological scars of conflict.

“I would like to thank Mr Rennie and everyone who has helped him for their commitment to our returned servicemen and women.”

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Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.