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Manson Park

Manson Park is an historic cemetery located about 200 metres east of the main Ipswich Cemetery.

A simple white monument is located in the centre, alongside a plaque placed  in 1971 by Major J. Watson of the United States Air Force '...to honour the American Servicemen who paid the supreme sacrifice during World War II'.

History

The monument was once the base of a flag pole which flew the American flag in the United States Armed Forces (USAF) Military Cemetery.

During World War II, many American servicemen died or were killed in action in Australia or the surrounding area. It was not possible to return their bodies to America for burial so a war cemetery was set up in Ipswich.

Accounts written about Manson Park claim that the final number of burials was 1260 and that the area was a field of small white crosses. Most burials were documented but some were unknown and there were three burials for members of the Javenese Dutch Army.

At the end of the war, more bodies were transferred to Ipswich from Townsville and New Guinea. The final number of entries in the Burial Register for the USAF Cemetery was 1402.

In November 1947, the United States ship 'Goucher Victory' arrived in Australia to return the dead to their native country.

To exhume the bodies, 190 Australian civilians said to have been mainly cane cutters were employed. A four-metre high fence of canvas was erected around the cemetery to screen it from view and the workers were instructed to observe strict decorum. The grim task was completed by December 20 and two days later, a ceremony was held in Brisbane City Hall to honour the American dead.

Captain J.B. Harris, the American officer in charge of the War Graves Unit, later wrote to the Ipswich Cemetery Trust, thanking it for '...accomplishing a resting place for our beloved deceased prior to their repatriation to their homeland and final resting place'.

A newspaper article dated 14 June 1971 revealed that 'Over two dozen trees and shrubs were planted in the programme and it is envisaged that seats, playground equipment and a fountain will later be included. The Park at the present has no name'.

Today's name, Manson Park, pays tribute to the work of local resident Mrs Rose Manson who cared for the graves during the war and wrote to the families in America.

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