Charity proposes memorials to Afghanistan Victoria Cross recipients

A diagram of the proposed memorial at Valour Park, Watson. Picture: Supplied
A diagram of the proposed memorial at Valour Park, Watson. Picture: Supplied

A charity has put forward a development application for a memorial to the four recipients of the Victoria Cross from the Afghanistan conflict, including Ben Roberts-Smith, to be located along the Federal Highway in Watson.

The $392,000 project would be funded by donations collected by the Remembrance Driveway Council, a volunteer-run organisation which has overseen tributes to people who have served in Australian Defence Forces in World War II and subsequent wars or who have served since in defence of the nation's interests.

The tributes are positioned along highways between Sydney to Canberra, and the proposed four memorials would be placed in Valour Park in Watson, which houses the Apex Memorial and Junior Farmers Memorial.

Planning for the proposal has been underway since 2019, when the council ran a design competition for the development of a memorial to the four Victoria Cross recipients.

The Victoria Cross awardees to be memorialised would be Mr Roberts-Smith, Mark Donaldson, Daniel Keighran and Cameron Baird.

The application comes amid Mr Roberts-Smith's defamation suit against The Age,The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times.

He is suing the news outlets over articles from 2018 that he says depict him as a criminal who broke the moral and legal rules of military engagement during his deployments in Afghanistan with the SAS. Mr Roberts-Smith denies all allegations against him.

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Asked whether Mr Roberts-Smith's defamation action has impacted on decisions to go ahead with the development application, Carolyn Tallents, a member of the Remembrance Driveway Council said: "At the moment there's nothing that's being looked at or discussed in relation to that."

The design concept for the memorial is inspired by the Victoria Cross medal itself.

"It's a space designed for reflection, and it has a central focus that is revealed as you enter the space with embracing walls," Ms Tallents said.

"And the designers, Moir Landscape Architects have looked at that as a revelation, so you you enter the space and come to the core, which is the Victoria Cross medal."

If the project were approved, Ms Tallents said it could be "a two-year type project", though it was difficult to provide an accurate estimate.

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This story Charity proposes memorials to Afghanistan Victoria Cross recipients first appeared on The Canberra Times.