Published on 17 January 2024

Messages from war

When 18-year-old Aldinga blacksmith and keen gardener, William Glen Crisp, wrote a letter to family back home wishing “heaps of love to all”, he wasn’t to know it’d be the last message he sent them.

Just seven days later, on 19 July 1916, the popular local was killed in action on the battlefield in Fromelles, France.

Crisp was heavily involved in his community before enlisting for service in the First World War, helping raise funds for a town flagpole at the Aldinga Institute Hall.

Sadly, the first time the Australian flag flew at half-mast from the flagpole was when news of his death reached Aldinga.

Crisp’s story is just one that’s commemorated at the new Aldinga War Memorial on Port Road, providing a space for the community to honour those from the local area who have served.

Its centrepiece is the Aldinga Soldiers War Monument—a grey granite obelisk that was erected at the corner of Main South Road and Stonehouse Lane in the 1920s to commemorate local fallen soldiers.

The duplication of Main South Road meant the monument needed to be relocated, with the community calling for a new, accessible place for people to gather and reflect.

Crisp relatives Heather Newland and Karen Hartwig were part of a community working group—which included local veterans and representatives from local organisations—that worked with the City of Onkaparinga to guide the memorial’s development.

The sisters say their fallen grand-uncle would’ve been incredibly proud to see the completed memorial if he were alive today.

“He’d feel so proud and he’d be humbled by the amount of thought and skill that went into it,” says Heather of the memorial, which opened to the public on Remembrance Day 2023.

“It immediately became a respectful community place, which we haven’t had with the traffic zooming past at the other [Main South Road] site, and it was an amazing feeling to suddenly see people filling this beautiful space.”

“It was a very emotional and uplifting event—it almost sends a shiver down your spine when you go there,” adds Karen.

“I think the memorial is really going to bind families together and maybe make them want to do more research on their relations who fought in or were affected by the wars.”

The accessible space was designed to allow visitors to walk, sit and gather among the trees while you commemorate, and encourage conversations about Australia’s war and peacekeeping history.

You’re encouraged to pause and reflect as you make your way around the memorial, which includes the names of locals killed in action during the First and Second World Wars, and a list of wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations in which Australians have served.

Other stories told at the memorial include the service and sacrifice of First Nations soldiers, and the contributions of Aldinga’s Sir Ivor Hele (1912–1993)—Australia’s longest-serving official war artist.

Council contributed $200,000 towards the memorial, alongside $150,000 from the state government’s Department for Infrastructure and Transport and $10,000 from the federal government’s Department of Veteran’s Affairs Saluting Their Service fund.


Scenes from the opening of the Aldinga War Memorial on Remembrance Day, 2023.

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A group of defence force personnel in uniform stand solemnly alongside the Aldinga War Monument at the opening of the new Aldinga War Memorial.