“They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old,

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them

We nawa gwen forget dem. Lest we forget”.

The Cenotaph at the intersection of Pier Street and Quality Row, is Norfolk Island’s War Memorial. It is sited on the War Memorial Reserve, which is part of KAVHA (the Kingston and Arthurs’ Vale Historic Area) and records the names of those Norfolk Islanders who have been killed in World Wars.

Norfolk Island had the highest enlistment per capita of all the Commonwealth nations in both World War I and World War II. To put this in perspective:

Boer War (1899-1902): 4 men enlisted

WWI (1914-1918): 81 out of a possible 160 men enlisted

WWII (1939-1945): 280 out of a possible 365 men plus 8 women enlisted

The first reference to the construction of a War Memorial on Norfolk Island was a public meeting held on 17 January 1918. Public meetings were common events on Norfolk Island and previously on Pitcairn, to seek the views of the community on relevant issues.

It could be assumed that the issue of a Memorial was not the only or even main issue discussed but due to the large percentage of the population who volunteered for the service in WWI and the significant number who were not to return, it was obviously not an insignificant issue. The meeting passed the following resolution: –

“In the opinion of this meeting it is due to our boys, who enlisted and served King and Country, that a fitting memorial be erected to their honour”.

The meeting was held whilst the war still raged, and it was not for another 10 months that the Armistice occurred and then began the long process of getting the troops home. Some did not arrive back on Norfolk Island until late in 1920.

ANZAC day services were initiated on 25 April 1916 by troops in Europe to commemorate the landing at Gallipoli and were commenced on Norfolk Island with the return of the local survivors. The first service was held on 25 April 1921 in an area between Government House and what is now known as Quality Row.

The initial Memorial was a large wooden plaque on which all names of those who served in World War I were inscribed but the community wished for a dedicated site and a permanent fixture. A committee comprising – George Nobbs (Chairman), C C R Nobbs (Secretary/Treasurer), Gerald Allen, H Buffett, E Christian and Gregory Quintal – set about the task of raising the necessary funds and gaining approval for a permanent site.

The Commonwealth provided the committee with the present small spot (30 by 30 feet in the old scale or some 9 by 9 metres in the present scale). The area, enclosed by the current fence, was granted by proclamation in the Commonwealth Gazette No 30 of 24 March 1927 which, as was the practice at the time to notify the community, was posted at the Court House on Norfolk Island on 2 May1927. The proclamation provided that under the Commons and Reserves Law 1913 the Governor General of Australia, Baron Stonehaven, declared the land described in the notice “a Public Reserve for the purpose of erecting a War Memorial and place the said land under the care and management of the Executive Council of Norfolk Island.”

The Administrators Annual Report recording the unveiling of the Memorial stated that the site on which the Memorial was constructed was “vested in the Executive Council”.

The committee raised the necessary funds and oversighted the construction of the Memorial which, not including voluntary labour, cost 145 pounds 18 shillings and 3 pence (Approx $12k today) The Memorial was unveiled on 25 April 1929 by the then Acting Administrator H S Edgar. It is understood Kathleen (Kitty) Laura Buffett played a significant role in the service. Kitty, daughter of Fletcher C Nobbs and sister of George and C C R, was mother of Allen Fletcher Buffett, the first Norfolk Islander killed in war and aunt to five nephews also killed in the conflict.” – Ron Nobbs

1956 – Duke of Edinburgh at War Memorial