Australia entered the Second World War on 3 September 1939 when Great Britain declared war on Germany. By 1945, almost one million Australians, both men and women, served in many parts of the world, on land, at sea and in the air.

Australians fought against Germany and Italy in North Africa, including the iconic Battle of El Alamein. They also played an important role in the war against Japan in South East Asia and the Pacific. After the Japanese advance in late 1941 and early 1942, some 22,000 Australians, including sailors and nurses were taken captive.

Around one-third would lose their lives as prisoners of war, many working on the infamous Burma-Thailand Railway. Australian forces would later contribute to the defeat of Japanese forces in New Guinea, Borneo and Malaya.

 © IWM (E(AUS) 3248) Men of the 45th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force attacking the Hindenburg Line, near Le Verguier, Ascension Valley.

The Australian mainland came under direct military attack for the first time. Between 1942 and 1943, Japan conducted air raids on Northern Australia bombing Darwin and Broome, and used submarines to attack Sydney Harbour.

The CWGC commemorates more than 40,000 people who died while serving with Australian forces in the Second World War.

Related Cemeteries & Memorials

El Alamein War Cemetery, Egypt, is the final resting place of some 7,240 Second World War Commonwealth servicemen including more than 1,230 Australian servicemen. At one end of the cemetery stands the Alamein Memorial which commemorates some 11,860 Second World War Commonwealth servicemen, including nearly 660 of Australian units, who died in the North African campaign and have no known grave.

Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore, is the final resting place of more than 4,460 Second World War Commonwealth servicemen including more than 1,110 of Australian units. Within the cemetery is the Singapore Memorial which commemorates more than 24,300 Second World War Commonwealth servicemen including nearly 1,640 of Australian units, who have no known grave.

Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery, Papua New Guinea, is the final resting place of more than 3,820 Second World War Commonwealth servicemen including more than 3,350 Australian servicemen. Within the cemetery stands the Port Moresby Memorial which commemorates nearly 740 Second World War Australian servicemen and one British Merchant Navy servicemen who died in the South Pacific and have no known grave.