Glossary of terms

This glossary provides a guide to key terms used in the NSW War Memorials Register online memorial submission form. There are also additional tips throughout the submission form to assist you to provide accurate information.

For additional source material to support your research, please read our Researching war memorials and veterans page.

Memorial forms

For the purposes of the Register, we have developed the below list of forms to assist with describing memorials. If you are unsure what form the memorial you are interested in is, you can refer to this list as a guide. Please note, this is not intended as a definitive list and we acknowledge others may use different lists of forms.

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, dating back to the Ancient Roman tradition of building triumphal arches.

Examples include the Burwood War Memorial Arch (left) and the Woodward Memorial Park Arch (right). 

Baptismal font

A baptismal font is a receptacle used in churches for performing baptisms. They often take the form of a stone or marble basin, mounted on a pedestal. Memorial fonts may have plaques attached or dedications inscribed on their surface.

Examples include the Bellingen Uniting Church First World War Memorial Font.

Board | Roll | Plaque | Tablet

Honour rolls and memorial plaques are the most common form of war memorial found in NSW. They can take various forms; however, they are usually timber boards or marble tablets, listing the names of those who have served in conflicts or peacekeeping missions. Honour rolls are often mounted on a wall or bushrock, or attached to the side of a larger structure such as a building or a memorial column/pillar.

Examples include the M.U.I.O.O.F. Loyal Prince of Wales Lodge No. 203 Tamworth District Second World War Roll of Honour (left) and the Tweed Heads War Widows Guild Club Memorial Plaque (right).

Bridge

Memorial bridges can be either large or small pieces of infrastructure, designed for pedestrians, vehicles, or both. They can be dedicated to a group of servicepeople or an individual.

Examples include the Anzac Bridge.

Building 

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

Examples include the Ashford Memorial Hall (left) and the Trundle War Memorial School of Arts (right).

Cairn

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

Examples include the Engadine War Memorial.

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

Examples include the Gosford Cenotaph (left) and the Cardiff RSL War Memorial (right).

Clock | Clock tower | Sundial

Memorial clocks can include freestanding or wall mounted clocks, positioned in any location, bearing a dedication to service. Memorial clock towers are generally larger, fixed structures, made of brick or stone and are usually located in public spaces or incorporated into buildings. Sundials usually consist of a pedestal base with the sundial plate on top. They are usually found in gardens or parks and can have inscriptions or plaques attached.

Examples include the Corowa First and Second World Wars Memorial Clock (left) and the John Edmondson VC Memorial Clock (right).

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 British Empire). Pillars are generally wider and shorter than columns and may be positioned on a low platform or base. 

Examples include the Killingworth War Memorial (left) and the Glenorie Roll of Honour Memorial (right).

Cross 

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

Examples include the Hay War Memorial.

Flag | Flagpole

Flagpoles are a common contemporary memorial form. They are usually found in parks, schools, or public squares, either individually or in groups. They often serve as a focal point for commemorative services or wreath laying ceremonies and are sometimes added to an existing memorial at a later date. Dedication plaques are usually found attached to the pole itself or near the base on a plinth or bushrock. Memorial flags may be found on display in churches or similar locations. 

Examples include the Terrey Hills War Memorial.

Fountain | Drinking fountain

Memorial fountains are decorative water features, generally found in parks, other public spaces, or outside buildings such as RSL clubs. They can be constructed from a variety of materials and in a range of sizes. Drinking fountains are generally on a smaller scale to allow for users to drink comfortably. They can be freestanding or attached to a larger structure and are usually found in similar locations to decorative fountains. 

Examples include the El Alamein Memorial Fountain (left) and the Manildra Honour Roll and Memorial Drinking Fountain (right).

Garden | Park

Memorial gardens and parks can be on any scale, either on public or private land. They often contain decorative garden beds, symbolic plants such as rosemary and other memorials such as flagpoles or monuments. They are commonly used as a site for commemorative services.

Examples include the Gosford Memorial Park (left) and the Kellyville Public School Garden of Remembrance (right).

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.

Examples include the gates at the Nimmitabel Cenotaph (left) and the St John's Anglican Church WWI Lamp of Remembrance and Lychgate, Boorowa (right).

Lamp

Memorial lamps are usually found along roadsides, in gardens or parks. The lamp fitting is generally mounted on a column or pole, positioned on top of a pedestal. The pedestal will often have plaques or inscriptions attached. 

Examples include the Casino Mafeking Lamp.

Memorial avenue | Memorial tree | Memorial trees

A memorial avenue is a dedicated mass planting of trees, also known as an avenue of honour. Each tree in the avenue often represents a specific veteran. They are generally planted along roadsides. Individual trees or plants can also be dedicated as memorials. The most common tree chosen for this purpose is the Lone Pine. 

Examples include the Tingha War Memorial Grove (left) and the Moree Lone Pine (right).

Memorial book | Book of Remembrance

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

Examples include the Crows Nest Presbyterian Church Second World War Book of Remembrance.

Monument

For the purposes of the Register, the term ‘Monument’ is used to describe a memorial structure of considerable size and permanence that does not fall into a more specific memorial type listed in this glossary. Monuments are generally made of stone, brick, or marble and are found within public spaces. They are often used as a site for commemorative services or wreath laying ceremonies.

Examples include the William Thompson Masonic Schools Second World War and Vietnam Memorial (left) and the Woonona Bulli RSL Memorial of Service (right).

Musical instrument

The most common types of musical instruments dedicated as war memorials are pipe organs and carillons (a set of bells played with a keyboard or an automatic mechanism). They are usually found in churches or official buildings and can have plaques or honour rolls attached. 

Examples include the Armidale Methodist Church First World War Memorial Organ.

Obelisk 

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

Examples include the Wisemans Ferry and District War Memorial.

Other

For the purposes of the Register, the term ‘Other’ is used to describe an object or item that has been dedicated as a war memorial and does not fall into one of the memorial types listed in this glossary. They may also be unique or ‘one-of-a-kind' memorials with no, or only one or two, counterparts on the Register. Within this category are:

  • Military memorabilia, equipment, or items such as field guns or propellers, which are not identifiable as war trophies
  • Furniture or fixtures such as lecterns or bookcases
  • Unique memorials such as bowling greens or trophy bowls 
  • Roads dedicated to conflicts, military service or individual veterans

Examples include the Lismore A.F.C. and R.A.A.F. Memorial (left), the Howard and Arthur Deards Memorial Lectern as part of the Holy Trinity Anglican Church First World War Memorials, Uki (centre) and the Mosman Neutral Bay Rifle Club, Our Fallen Comrades Bowl (right).

Photograph/s | Photographic montage

This category includes individual or multiple photographs that have been dedicated as war memorials, such as via an inscription or plaque. 

Rotunda | Bandstand

For the purposes of the Register, the terms ‘Rotunda’ and ‘Bandstand’ refer to any outdoor structure consisting of a platform, usually raised, covered by a roof supported by posts or pillars. They are usually found in gardens or parks and often have dedication plaques or honour rolls attached to the structure itself or as freestanding memorials under the roof. 

Examples include the Glen Innes Anzac Park Great War Memorial Kiosk.

Sports ground

These are parcels of land designated for sports or similar activities that have also been dedicated as war memorials. They may include seating for spectators or buildings, such as changerooms. 

Examples include the Forestville War Memorial Playing Fields.

Stained glass window

Windows featuring decorative coloured glass, often depicting religious or symbolic images. They are generally found in churches or other religious buildings. The glass pieces are joined with lead strips to form the design. Inscriptions can be included in the window itself or on plaques attached to the window frame or a wall nearby.

Examples include the Wesley Uniting Church Great War Memorial Windows, Broken Hill.

Statue | Sculpture | Artwork

Statues and sculptures are three-dimensional artworks. Common memorial types include a digger on a pedestal, a bas relief embedded into or attached to the surface of a memorial, or a freestanding female figure representing 'Peace' or 'Victory'. Memorial artworks are generally two-dimensional and can include murals or mosaics. 

Examples include the Wollondilly Anglican College Anzac Memorial Shelter and Statue (left) and the Gunnedah Vietnam Veterans Murals (right).

Stone | Bushrock

Individual stones or bushrocks with plaques attached are a common memorial type. Sandstone, granite, and basalt are popular choices. They can be in their natural form or with some shaping of the surface. 

Examples include the Molong and District War Memorial (left) and the Walcha Australia Remembers Memorial (right).

Swimming pool | Swimming centre

A pool or pool complex that has been dedicated as a war memorial. They are often run by local councils or community organisations and can include admission and changeroom buildings. 

Examples include the Inverell and District Memorial Olympic Pool.

Wall

Memorial walls can be made from a variety of materials, in a range of shapes and sizes. They often have plaques or honour rolls attached and can be a site for commemorative services or wreath laying ceremonies. They are generally located in gardens, parks, or outside buildings. 

Examples include the Bardia Barracks Memorial Wall (left) and the BaptistCare Aminya Retirement Village and Aged Care War Memorial (right).

Walkway

Walkways can range from simple footpaths to larger scale infrastructure. They are generally accompanied by plaques and may connect other memorials. 

Examples include the Camden RSL Community Memorial Walkway.

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. 

Examples include the Speers Point Park War Memorial (left) and the Narrabri First World War Field Gun (right).

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

Lost

As memorials age, the lettering can wear off, be damaged, removed, or otherwise become illegible. Selecting 'Lost' as the type of lettering on the Register's Memorial Submission Form, indicates there was an inscription on the memorial at some stage, but it is unable to be recorded from observation of the memorial itself. 

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

Painted

An example of painted lettering on a memorial is calligraphy, done by hand using paint or ink. 

Printed

Printed lettering can include modern signwriting techniques, such as digital printing. 

Raised 

An example of raised lettering may include names 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 - Rank 

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 - Regimental numbers

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 - Nominal roll of Australian Imperial Force who left Australia for service abroad