Born in Yorkshire, raised in Shropshire, travelled the world. Lived in Adelaide and currently in UK. Love travel, ancient history, horses, cello playing, the unusual and obscure, and pottering in my own back yard. Visit my website www.wadders.co.uk
Published December 2nd 2013
Stop for a moment to remember our heroes
I had time between meetings in the City recently, so I decided to take a stroll along North Terrace and found myself at the National War Memorial on the corner of Kintore Avenue. The benches are set back from the road, and with the trimmed lawns and pretty flower beds, the little square offered a bit of welcome respite from the rush and bustle of the city.
The square has a powerfully peaceful atmosphere, encouraging you to take a bit of time to stop and remember those who've given their lives for us.
Designed by Woods, Bagot, Jory and Laybourne-Smith the Memorial is a prominent, square structure. In the centre is 'The Spirit of Compassion', an angel carrying the body of a dead soldier, while the side facing the intersection is 'The Spirit of Duty'. Here the angel is holding a sword, and beneath her, representing the youth of South Australia are bronze sculptures of a girl, student and farmer.
Inside the building is a crypt, which with its subtle lighting and sad contents, commands instance silence. Written in gold on bronze plaques are the names of people who fell in the many First World War battles: Sommes, Pozieres, Bullecourt, Ypres, Messines, Passchendaele, Amiens, Hindenburg Line, Amman, and of course Gallipoli…. the list goes on. It's deeply sobering when you think of the 35,000 South Australians who served, nearly 40% were between the ages of 18 and 44.
The Memorial's design was the winner of an architectural competition. The idea of a monument was first proposed in 1919, when the state parliament decided to fund a memorial dedicated to the 5000 plus South Australians who died in the First World War. A committee was formed and the competition for its design was launched.
Adelaide National War Memorial, 'Spirit of Compassion'
The memorial wasn't without controversy and construction didn't begin until 1928; arguments raged in Parliament over the site, and a fire destroyed the original final five competition submissions. This meant another competition was run, and the Memorial was finally unveiled on April 24 1931 by the Governor, Brigadier-General Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthven to the cheers of some 75,000 people.
Trees surround the gardens adding to the serenity, and the perimeter hedge is interspersed with wooden crosses dedicated to the memory of different regiments and battalions. Many have been moved here from the original location they were erected in. Although the Memorial was originally proposed as a memorial to those who served in 'The Great War', there are a number of other plaques and memorials in the square in honour of those who have fallen in other wars, including The Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Malayan Emergency.
In today's busy world, where technology has supposedly made our lives easier, but in reality has cluttered it with more distractions, this Memorial is a powerful reminder of those who laid down their lives for us.
Has this memorial been commonly known as Soldiers Memorial, even though the title National War Memorial has apparently been in use from the start (see Wikipedia). Myself, I find have difficulty with memorials to War. I think of those people involved, both as serving (Anzac Day) and as affected in huge numbers as bystanders, relatives, fiancees, families (Armistice Day). A memorial to War suggests noting the victory and taking glory, to me. That was ok in Nelson's time, hence the Column in London. Today we are more aware of the damage done by war, not only to the warriors but also to the people not directly enrolled.