Mapoon War MemorialPrint Page Print this page

Photographs supplied by Geoff Wharton

The War Memorial commemorates the war service of the community's indigenous ancestors who have served in conflicts in which Australia has been involved.   The centrepiece of the monument is a Japanese Type 88 sea mine which was one of 18 that washed up along the Cape York Peninsula western coast during the World War Two.  The mine was disarmed by the Royal Australian Navy and had been a war relic at Mapoon since that time.  Identification of the mine was undertaken by Gary Oakley at the Australian War Memorial.

There were 21 men whose names are recorded on the monument for their Defence Force service. Of these, 17 were Aboriginal men who served in Army and Navy units, two were missionaries, and two were sons of missionaries, one of whom served in the World War One.  The Two missionaries also were members (unenlisted) of the Royal Australian Air Force (R.A.A.F.) .

14 civilian men served in the Civil Constructional Corps (this was not part of the Defence Force) and an additional 19 civilian men who worked on defence projects or crewed church vessels seconded by the Defence Force are listed on the plaques.

People in Mapoon also helped rescue American airmen and assisted in the dismantling of Japanese sea mines during the war. One of the 18 sea mines found along the Gulf coast features in the memorial.

The monument includes eight cast bronze plaques telling the history of Mapoon community’s involvement with the Allied war effort.  These include:

  • The official opening plaque (it was officially opened by Mr Keith Payne VC, AM and Mrs Florence Payne OAM with the Elders of Mapoon.)
  • The Defence of Mapoon’s Traditional Homelands – this plaque features a design by a community artist. The story on this plaque gives the history of the defence of Mapoon against invaders between 1606 and the 1880s.  This is one of very few such monuments in Queensland and perhaps the first to be included in a main community war memorial;
  • A plaque commemorating the service to the Commonwealth of Australia and its Allies by the Mapoon community.  This plaque summarises the major events and service of Mapoon people during the Second World War;
  • A plaque commemorating the Mapoon men who served in the Australian Military Forces.  This is a nominal roll of all who served;
  • A plaque commemorating Mapoon men who served in the Royal Australian Navy (unenlisted but recognised as having served by post-war Commonwealth Government award of service medals), Royal Australian Air Force (Volunteer Air Observer Corps, not enlisted) and Merchant Navy;
  • A plaque commemorating the Mapoon People who served in the Civil Constructional Corps or who were seconded as civilians to the Defence Services;
  • A plaque describing the history of the Japanese Type 88 Sea Mine 
  • A plaque commemorating Lieutenant William Francis Meenagh who was the navigator on a United States Army Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress bomber of the 93rd Bombardment Squadron that crashed south of the Pennefather River in September 1942.  All 9 members of the crew parachuted from the aircraft before it crashed, and eight were rescued by Aboriginal men from Weipa and Mapoon Presbyterian Missions, working with an Royal Australian Air Force (R.A.A.F.) Catalina crew.  Despite extensive searches, Lieutenant Meenagh was never found and was listed as missing-in-action.


Address:Council Chambers, Mapoon , 4874
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -12.020981
Long: 141.904478
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:Conflict


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Sunday 25th April, 2010
Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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