Among Australia’s so-called “forgotten” veterans, the soldiers died after the war as a result of their service.
They were buried in unadorned graves at Brighton Cemetery.
In 2009 a small groups of volunteers working to identify bare graves at the cemetery discovered many belonged to WWI soldiers who passed away at a Melbourne repatriation hospital or while patients at a military asylum.
Following approval by the Office of Australian War Graves the soldiers’ final resting places were this month recognised with official war graves.
Lois Comeadow from the Brighton Cemetorians says the volunteers are thrilled.
“You could cry tears of joy, because finally people walking past can see this is a soldier who fought for the country,” she said.
Listen: SBS reporter Phillippa Carisbrooke has the story of how the graves of 25 WWI servicemen came to be forgotten.
Mal Carson from the Returned and Services League in Victoria says it is unthinkable the graves of today’s war veterans would be forgotten.
“We think perhaps that the way these things were handled and managed in those days of WWI and the years immediately after WWI, they never had the systems and procedures in place to make sure everyone received what today would be called their normal entitlements. So they managed to slip through the crack,” he told SBS.
“…Why family didn’t know that they were buried here? In some cases a soldier died today and was buried tomorrow. And that seems quite amazing that that could possibly happen.”
Marion Melideo’s great uncle, Private Hugh Couper, is among those recognised with a war headstone.
She says he, and returned soldiers like him, should be honoured for their service.
“It is important I think, because a lot of the boys here were sort of forgotten. And now they have memorials for those who died overseas it is nice to think they are going to be remembered here,” she said.