Glossary of terms

This glossary provides definitions of key terms used in our online submission form. You might like to use the source material to support your research into war memorials and veterans. For additional source material to support your research, please read our Researching war memorials and veterans page.

Please note this is not an exhaustive list of terms. There are additional help tips available in the online form to assist you in providing accurate information.

Memorial types

Arch

A memorial arch is a monumental structure in the shape of an archway with one or more arched passageways. Memorial arches are a classical form of monument building that dates back to the Ancient Roman tradition of building triumphal arches. 

Avenue of Honour 

This term refers to memorial avenues of trees. Each tree in an avenue of honour often represents a specific veteran. 

Book of Remembrance 

This term is used to describe a commemorative book in which the names of veterans are inscribed. 

Cairn

A pile of stones. Used literally or symbolically to mark graves. 
Source: Caring for our War Memorials

Cenotaph

A symbolic monument marking the grave of someone who is buried elsewhere. The basic form is a tomb chest on a plinth but many First World War memorials are modelled on the “stepped pylon” shape of the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London. 
Source: Caring for our War Memorials

Column/Pillar

Many war memorials in NSW are architecturally designed classical columns. The columns usually sit on an inscribed pedestal, and may be topped with statues of a solider or angel, a globe or an orb (a spherical ornament that symbolised the Empire). 

Cross 

The Christian cross is a traditional representation of sacrifice and remembrance and was a popular type of First World War memorial. 

Gate / Lychgate 

A memorial gate often consists of gate posts and an opening in a wall or fence. A lychgate is a roofed gateway to a churchyard.

Obelisk 

An obelisk is a tapered, four-sided pillar terminating in a pyramid at the top. 
Source: Caring for our War Memorials

Public building 

Many communities in NSW chose to build war memorials in the form of public buildings such as town halls, community halls, libraries or ‘School of Arts’ buildings. 

Statue or sculpture

Examples of a statue or sculpture may include a digger on a pedestal, bas relief or female figure

War Trophy 

War trophies are government distributed enemy guns. War trophies range in size from machine guns to large artillery pieces such as howitzers and mortars. 

Types of memorial inscriptions

Incised

Incised lettering is a technique that involves cutting or carving letters into a surface. 

Lead

Lead lettering is a technique in which lead is hammered into small holes, drilled into the stone as a key; letter forms are scored and cut with fine tools. 
Source: Caring for our War Memorials

Gilded 

Gilding involves painting on a special adhesive then applying gold leaf with a brush. Gilding has an even, bright surface and does not tarnish. 
Source: Caring for our War Memorials

Raised 

An example of raised lettering may include names that have been embossed in relief on metal plaques or tablets.

Veteran details

Rank 

‘Rank is the lawful authority given to a sailor, soldier, or an airman or airwoman to command others. The higher the rank, the more people he or she has to command and is responsible for.’
Source: Australian War Memorial 

Regimental number 

A number given to a non-commissioned soldier between 1901 – 1921, used across the Commonwealth Military Forces and the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF). This system was abolished in 1921 and replaced with unique Army or service numbers. 
Source: Australian War Memorial 

Campaign 

‘A phase of a war involving a series of operations related in time and space and aimed towards a single, specific, strategic objective or result in the war. A campaign may include a single battle, but more often it comprises a number of battles over a protracted period of time.’
Source: Understanding War: History and a Theory of Combat, Trevor N. Dupuy

Fate 

The Nominal Roll of the Australian Imperial Force lists the fate of those who served abroad during the First World War; Killed in action (KIA), Died of wounds (DOW), Discharged abroad, Returned to Australia (RTA).
Source: Australian War Memorial