Cub Scouts MemorialPrint Page Print this page

The tablet was erected by citizens at the gravesite of nine members of the cub scouts who were drowned in the Clarence River in 1943. The boys were buried side by side in the cemetery. The tablet was restored in 1993 and 2011. 

On December 11, 1943, 28 cubs were on their annual Christmas picnic on Susan Island under the watchful eye of a handful of senior scouts. When a storm began to close-in, the party was loaded on a flat-bottomed punt to row across the river to reach shelter.

Unfortunately the punt became unstable in the stormy conditions, capsized and threw the entire party into the water - few could swim and 13 of the boys, mostly aged between six and nine, drowned.

Nine of the boys were buried in South Grafton Cemetery while the remaining four were buried in Grafton Cemetery. 

CUBS' MEMORIAL  A meeting of the committee comprising the Mayors and Town Clerks of Grafton and South Grafton, who control the Cubs' funeral expenses fund, decided to proceed at once with the construction of the monumental work and headstones over the graves— nine at South Grafton cemetery and four at Grafton cemetery— of the thirteen Cubs who were drowned in tragic circumstances in December, 1943. A copy of the approved design of. the work is being sent to each of the parents, and when their concurrence is to hand tenders will be called immediately.
Daily Examiner (Grafton, NSW ), 25 May 1945.

The memorial to 13 cub scouts who drowned returning from Susan Island in 1943 is in danger of falling into disrepair and irrelevance, a Grafton resident, who witnessed the search for the boys’ bodies, has claimed. Bruce Gleeson, aged 80, was at home in Reserve St on that fateful afternoon on December 11, 1943.

“I saw Alan Dahl come to our neighbour Eric Donohoe, who was a timber jinker, to get grappling hooks to drag the river to find the boys,” Mr Gleeson said. “I ran all the way from my house down to the river to see what was going on.”

More than 67 years on, Mr Gleeson said the lettering on the memorial plaque was fading and difficult to read. He was also worried the grave sites of the boys – nine in the old South Grafton Cemetery, four at Grafton – have also fallen into disrepair. The concerned resident has acted on his fears and has enlisted the aid of Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson and Grafton District Services Club general manager Arthur Lysaught to refurbish the memorials to the boys.

Cr Williams said the council had committed to updating the plaques on the memorial and putting new paving around the plinth holding the plaques. But he said the council could not do anything to maintain the grave sites of the 13 boys, saying that task was up to the families.“We have agreed on refurbishing the plaques in the park and putting in the pavers,” Cr Williamson said.  

The work is due to be completed in time for the 68th anniversary of the tragedy on December 11. The mayor said there were no plans to include the memorial to the boys in waterside precinct planning. “We have agreed to have the plaques re-done in a way that will make them clearer and easier to read,” he said. Mr Lysaught was also excited by the project and committed the GDSC to be “100% behind anything of that ilk” to rejuvenate the memorial. “There’s no doubt that the drowning of those boys was the most tragic single event in Grafton’s history,” he said.
The Daily Telegraph, 8 July 2011. 



Address:Bent Street, South Grafton Cemetery , South Grafton, 2460
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -29.717814
Long: 152.933961
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event Start Date:11-December-1943
Actual Event End Date:11-December-1943


Front Inscription

The Citizens
Sacred Memory

[ Names ]

Cub Members Of The
Boy Scout Movement
Who Were Accidentally Drowned
In The Clarence River, 
11th Dec. 1943

Restored in 1993


Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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