Ipswich War Museum: A captivating tribute to locals who shaped history

11 October 2023
  • History & commemoration

The Ipswich RSL Sub Branch has been working to preserve war history.

The Ipswich War Museum resides within the walls of Soldiers' Memorial Hall, a meaningful repository of history and architectural landmark of profound significance to the local community since the opening of its doors in 1921.

Ipswich Soldiers Memorial Hall RSL Queensland

Housing a museum collection, which was formalised in 2016, the Ipswich RSL Sub Branch has been working tirelessly to gather war memorabilia and unearth the stories of some of the bravest residents who have called Ipswich home.

Showcasing 1,834 historical pieces, the walls of the 102-year-old heritage-listed building are lined with artifacts, exhibits, photographs, and documents that capture the essence of monumental moments in human conflict.

Ipswich RSL Sub Branch President Paul Rogers said the museum transports the spectator back in time, offering a captivating tribute to those who have shaped modern history.

“All items in the museum hold great significance; the hall not only keeps the memories alive of individuals who sacrificed for our freedoms, but also allows the public to learn and enjoy Australia’s war history,” Mr Rogers said.

Ipswich War Museum RSL Queensland

As the Sub Branch President, Paul has become immersed in the museum over the past number of years – dedicating himself to the growth and evolution of the collection.

“This collection is truly unique due to the fact that 80 per cent of the artifacts are from Ipswich and surrounding local areas,” he said.

“We have memorabilia spanning from the Boer War through to Timor Leste, and our displays pay tribute to a range of conflicts that involved Australian Defence Force personnel in our region.

“We’ve just had a World War I (WWI) medal set donated, which will go on display soon – it includes the Military Cross, the Queen’s Coronation medal and an original citation from the King.”

Other noteworthy items include a ‘Dead Man Penny’ collection with medal sets that belong to the fallen Digger, as well as an original ‘Light Horse’ sculpture and paintings. A memorial stained glass window is one hallmark of the museum, which was brought about by the Ipswich Train Tea Society, an impressive group of ladies formed in the 1900s to enable those at home to contribute to the war effort.

Ipswich War Museum RSL Queensland

The Sub Branch is also proud of their Honour Boards, some of which were hand-crafted by volunteers and members who have played an instrumental role in formalising the museum.

“One of the honour boards we put together contains the names of 644 WWI Ipswich veterans who were not listed on our original honour boards, as well as six nurses and 54 individuals who were killed in action,” Mr Rogers said.

“This undertaking has been a personal journey for me too, as my Grand Uncle was killed in France during WWI and he was not listed anywhere. I’m proud to say he is now listed along with 643 other names that will continue to be remembered for generations to come.”

Another board mentions Sister Constance Mabel Keys, one of the most highly decorated nurses of WWI and one of the first nurses to enlist in 1914.

“We are very passionate about our local war history and hope people feel a sense of pride in what our people had to endure, not only on the frontline but on home soil,” he said.

The museum is open to the public on the last Sunday of the month from 9am-3pm, excluding December and January. By arrangement, the museum is open to bus tours, school groups and scouts.


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