Nowra War Cemetery upgrade with new gardens and plants

UPGRADE: Nowra RSL Sub-Branch secretary Rick Meehan and his son Luke maintain the new-look Nowra War Cemetery.

UPGRADE: Nowra RSL Sub-Branch secretary Rick Meehan and his son Luke maintain the new-look Nowra War Cemetery.

The Nowra War Cemetery which just a month ago was the target of vandals has received a facelift thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

New gardens including a number of new plants have been planted at the cemetery which is the burial place for 35 Australian personnel who were killed during World War II.

“The cemetery looks fantastic,” said Nowra RSL Sub-Branch secretary Rick Meehan, who along with his son Luke maintain the area.

“The new gardens, which are fully mulched includes a number of  azaleas, gardenias and rosemary.

“The headstones have all been cleaned. The whole area looks fantastic.

“It is a fitting tribute to the personnel who are buried here.”

All 35 personnel in the war cemetery were killed during World War II.

“There are sailors, soldiers and airmen,” Mr Meehan said.

“All three services are represented. Most died during training exercises of one sort or another out of Nowra and Albatross.”

Their deaths span from 1941 to 1947. They age from 19 through to 35-years of age.

The father and son have been looking after the cemetery for the past two years, spending three hours a week weeding, cleaning and generally maintaining the area.

“It’s the least we can do to honour the personnel who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country,” Mr Meehan said.

“There is a fair bit of work each week. The area has a lot of overhanging trees which drop leaves and sticks and we make sure it is all clean.”

For more than 20 years the area was maintained by husband and wife Keith and Norma Irwin but when they could no longer manage it, the Commonwealth War Graves took over.

“They are based in Canberra and would come down once a month,” Mr Meehan said.

“They contacted the RSL and asked if we would like to take it on and I agreed.”

In late August, nine of the 35 graves were damaged by vandals, with swastikas drawn onto the backs of nine headstones, while more were drawn on a gateway pillar leading into the Naval Cemetery.

It was also desecrated with the anti-Semitic comment “Die Jues” (sic).

Local company Spotless, which provides maintenance at local navy bases HMAS Albatross and Creswell, helped in the clean up, while another local firm Opstar Security are undertaking nightly patrols of the area to keep up the security.

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