War Memorials and the Pozières Cross

War Memorials and the Pozières Cross


There was a prodigious proliferation of World War 1 memorials across Australia after the war, demonstrating that the war deeply affected and touched Australians emotionally and psychologically. This was a volunteer army and the dead did not return to Australia to be buried. The Australian World War I memorials are also unique as they typically include all those who served from a district or town, not just those who gave their lives. Often, as with the Holy Trinity memorial, those who did not return are marked with a cross.

Because this war had been so horrific and such a catastrophe in terms of human lives, the returning solders and others sometimes called it the War to End all Wars or The Great War. Many of the memorials from World War 1 onwards have Lest we Forget , engraved on them, in recognition of the sacrifice of those involved and to remind us all how terrible total war had become. The statement also acknowledges that participation in World War 1 changed people and the sacrifice the ANZACs and others made was ongoing and indirectly included their families.

The Pozières Cross

Although this book is focussed on the war memorial located in Holy Trinity there is another local war memorial, the Pozières Cross that needs to be recognised. This memorial is located at the Anglican Launceston Church Grammar School and Stephen Norris the Headmaster of the school in 2017 provided the following details about this memorial.

Soldiers on the battlefields during WW1 sometimes raised their own memorials to fallen colleagues. The Pozières Cross from the First World War resides in the Narthex of the Launceston Church Grammar School’s Chapel. The cross is a sturdy roughhewn Celtic Cross raised on the Somme Battlefield in 1916 by those who survived that dreadful conflict in honour of the fallen comrades. It has been made from whatever materials were at hand and part of it appears to be made from a road sign as part of the word Pozieres can clearly be seen on the cross-piece. On the circular part of the Cross are written the words Fifth Battalion of the A.I.F. The Pozières Cross carries two plaques. The plaque at the top states: This Cross is entrusted to your care by the Australian War Memorial. On the centre plaque is written: This Cross was erected at Pozieres in France in memory of Australian soldiers who fell fighting there and at Mouquet Farm in 1916. After the war it was replaced by the permanent memorials erected by the Imperial War Graves Commission.

The Pozières Cross: Photograph by Angela Casey


The Memorial Flame

Picture of the lamp next to the Holy Trinity War Memorial

Photograph by Neil Richardson


Lighting candles for the departed is a widespread practice in the Christian tradition, as is having a continuously lit sanctuary lamp located in a church to represent an eternal presence. A flame in a war memorial is also a traditional symbol of eternal life. The Australian War Memorial’s website states: An eternal flame at a war memorial symbolizes a nation’s perpetual gratitude towards and remembrance of its war dead.

This notion of remembrance and commemoration using a flame is reflected in the lamp that was lit next to the Holy Trinity War Memorial on Defence Force Sunday in 2014, with the intention that this lamp would burn for the duration of the 100th anniversary of World War 1 (from 4th August 2014 to 11th November 2018).

A lit torch or lamp is also an ancient symbol for education. The light from a lit torch is symbolic of leading a person out of darkness, with the English word education coming from the Latin word “educere” meaning “to lead out”.


Women in World War 1


Because women were considered to be non-combatants in the First World War, no women are recorded on the Northern Tasmanian WWI memorial located in Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Launceston. This does not mean that women did not serve or were not in danger or did not show courage. If we were listing the names of Northern Tasmanians who served in the First World War, then more women would be recorded. In particular, Clare Deacon (1891-1952) is very worthy of being listed on the memorial. Clare Deacon was an army nurse, born on 13th March 1891 at Pipers River, Tasmania, and daughter of William Deacon, farmer, and his wife Ruby Ellen, née Dixon. No details of her early life are known, but she trained at Hobart Hospital, passing her general nursing examination in 1912.

Claire Deacon MM  1891 – 1952

Clare Deacon enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 29th November 1914 as a staff nurse in the Army Nursing Service and was posted to the 2nd Australian General Hospital (AGH). She embarked for Egypt on the Kyarra with the first contingent and served at Mena throughout the Gallipoli campaign. Promoted to nursing sister in December 1915, she left for France the following March and remained with the 2nd AGH in 1916. She was transferred to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital in February 1917, then in June was temporarily attached to the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station at Trois Arbres near Armentières. On the night of 22nd July the station was bombed and Sister Deacon, who was off duty at the time, ran into one of the shattered wards and removed the patients to a place of safety. She was one of four Australian nurses who risked their lives to rescue patients from the burning buildings. For courage, coolness and devotion to duty she, along with Sisters Dorothy Cawood and Alice Ross-King and Staff Nurse Mary Jane Derrer, was awarded the Military Medal, a distinction only awarded for bravery under fire. These were the first Military Medals won by members of the Australian Army Nursing Service.

In August, Sister Deacon resumed duty with the 2nd AGH, remaining with this unit until her return to Australia in April 1918. She was discharged from the AIF in Tasmania in March 1919. A contemporary source described her as fresh, girlish-looking and with a charming personality. She married James McGregor, a dentist, on 2nd May 1922 at the Melbourne registry office. There were no children of the marriage. Her husband died in 1941 and Clare Deacon’s (Mrs McGregor’s) last years were spent at Crows Nest, Sydney, where she died of meningitis on the 7th August 1952. This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981.