New Director of War Memorial is former Ambassador to Afghanistan and author of children’s books about war

Update 16 December 2019: Interview with Mr Anderson.

The Prime Minister and Minister Chester have announced that the new Director of the Australian War Memorial is to be Matthew Anderson PSM, currently Deputy High Commissioner in London. Mr Anderson has experience also with the Imperial War Museum and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and as a military officer.

Mr Anderson is the author of three children’s books on Australia’s involvement in the two World Wars (A is for ANZAC: An A to Z of Australia and the First World War, Don’t Forget Me, Cobber! Australia and the First World War, and K is for Kokoda: An A to Z of Australians and the Second World War).

Mr Anderson’s diplomatic experience includes being the Australian Ambassador to Afghanistan, 2015-16, though this is not mentioned explicitly in the ministerial media release.

The Memorial has put out its own media release, welcoming Mr Anderson’s appointment. ‘He has cleaned the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier’, says Memorial Council Chair, Kerry Stokes, ‘and he has faced great danger in Afghanistan. Mr Anderson embodies the qualities the Memorial needs to speak for, and to, a new generation.’ Mr Stokes refers to the Memorial’s planned expansion as ‘Dr Nelson’s legacy’.

More on Mr Anderson from the Monash University website.

Honest History wishes Mr Anderson well in his War Memorial role. The text of the ministerial press release is below and here.

Matthew Anderson PSM (DFAT)

The Hon. Scott Morrison MP

Prime Minister

The Hon. Darren Chester MP

Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel


Friday 13 December 2019


Matthew Anderson PSM has been appointed as the next Director of the Australian War Memorial by the Government following a formal selection process.

Mr Anderson, a veteran himself, is the current Deputy High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

He will replace outgoing Director, Dr Brendan Nelson AO, who will conclude in the role at the end of this year.

The Prime Minister said Mr Anderson’s skills, knowledge and experience will ensure the continued success of the Memorial.

“Mr Anderson is well placed to guide the Australian War Memorial through generational change to tell the stories of our more recent conflicts,” the Prime Minister said.

“He has demonstrated his passion for military history and ensuring future generations are educated about the service and sacrifice of our personnel, having written three children’s books on Australia’s involvement in the First and Second World Wars.

“Over the past three years he has further built on his knowledge and passion, serving as the Australian Alternate on the Board of Trustees of the Imperial War Museum and Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

“I would like to congratulate Mr Anderson on his appointment and wish him all the very best for his tenure in guiding the memorial through an important part of its history and upholding its purpose in assisting to remember, interpret and understand the Australian experience of war and its enduring impact on Australian society.”

Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said as a veteran himself, Mr Anderson will understand the importance of the Memorial’s development project and ensuring the stories of our veterans are appropriately told.

“Mr Anderson is a Graduate of the Royal Military College Duntroon, spending eight years as an Australian Army Officer, including three years as Troop Commander for the Royal Australian Engineers,” Mr Chester said.

“His service, along with his proven record of achievement in senior diplomatic postings, demonstrated leadership and knowledge of military history, will ensure the continued success of the Memorial.”

The Prime Minister thanked Dr Brendan Nelson for all he has done to remember the almost two million people who have served in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations, but also ensuring the stories of those currently serving are told in a solemn and respectful way.

“Dr Nelson has ensured the stories of an entire new generation of service are told and remembered alongside those that inspired their own sacrifice and to do the same for future generations. I wish him all the best for the future,” the Prime Minister said.

13 December 2019 updated

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