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A US Armed Forces Cemetery was established at the civilian Rookwood Cemetery at Hawthorne Avenue, Rookwood, Sydney in New South Wales during WWII.

Towards the end of the war there were 431 US Service personnel buried in the US Military Section of the Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney. Some of these were bodies that had been exhumed from other cemeteries such as the US Military Section on the Karrakatta Cemetery in Perth, in Western Australia.


Main entrance to Rookwood Cemetery where
American servicemen were buried during WWII


The American military embalmed their dead so that towards the end of the war, they could be exhumed and relocated to a number of larger cemeteries on the east coast of Australia such as Rookwood Cemetery and Ipswich Cemetery and be reburied for temporary storage until they were exhumed again and taken by special ship back to Hawaii for burial in cemeteries nominated by their relatives.

The 9105th Technical Service Unit was established in the American spring of 1947 to carry out disinterments in Hawaii and the Pacific area. It comprised 8 Field Operating Sections which were dispatched in whole or in part to carryout exhumations. The American ship USAT Goucher Victory arrived in Brisbane on 17 November 1947 to take the bodies back to Hawaii. Three Field Operating Sections and one third of the Mobile Port Company of the 9105th Technical Service Unit disembarked without the need for the customary passport requirements which had been waived.

Local labourers were used to exhume 465 deceased from Rookwood Cemetery with work starting on 17 November 1947. After processing in accordance with Australian Health Regulations, the remains were relocated by truck to the nearest Railway Station for shipment to Brisbane in south east Queensland. Caskets were always hidden from the view of the public by tarpaulin covers. An American ex serviceman then living in Australia was hired to escort the shipment to Mausoleum No. 4 at Redbank about 16 miles from Brisbane.

Exhumations were completed at both Rookwood and Ipswich by 20 December 1947. Caskets from both Rookwood (465 souls) and Ipswich (1,406 souls) were then loaded onboard USAT Goucher Victory in the Brisbane River.

A ceremony was held in the Brisbane City Hall on 22 December 1947 to honour the American dead. A coffin containing the body of an unknown American soldier was paraded ceremoniously on a gun carriage through Brisbane King George Square where the cortege stopped in front of City Hall where wreaths were laid by officers of the Australian Commonwealth Government, the Brisbane City Council, various patriotic organisations and the American Consul. The parade was watched by approximately 30,000 Brisbane residents. The cortege then moved to Newstead Wharf where Taps were sounded and three volleys fired.

The caskets containing US servicemen left Brisbane on board USAT Goucher Victory before Christmas 1947. USAT Goucher Victory then travelled to Guadalcanal where the caskets were unloaded and then loaded onto the USAT Cardinal O'Connell along with 3,346 souls recovered from Guadalcanal which then travelled to Hawaii.


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This page first produced 21 September 2015

This page last updated 30 July 2017