Australian War Memorial, Canberra

5 out of 5 stars 67 Reviews

Treloar Crescent, Campbell 02 6243 4211

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  • Lest We Forget
    Lest We Forget
    by wabat
  • Mont St Quentin Diorama
    Mont St Quentin Diorama
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  • WWII at the Australian War Memorial
    WWII at the Australian War Memorial
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    Australian War Memorial – Lest we forget

    by wabat Updated May 5, 2015

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    This a summary and introductory review on the Australian War Memorial. On it you will find links to more detailed reviews on aspects of the memorial that I find particularly interesting – lots!.

    “Here is their spirit, in the heart of the land they loved; and here we guard the record which they themselves made.” Charles Bean, 1948.

    In this (2014) the 100th anniversary year of the start of World War I (WWI) it is fitting that I should finally write a tip on the Art Deco, Byzantine style Australian War Memorial (AWM). The AWM comprises and combines Australia’s national shrine of remembrance with a world-class war related museum and an extensive archive.

    It exists to commemorate the sacrifice of those Australians who have died in war. While it was specifically established in 1941 as a World War I memorial it now commemorates Australia’s sacrifices in wars and conflicts from Colonial days right up to our most recent engagement in Afghanistan.

    The AWM’s mission is to ‘to assist Australians to remember, interpret and understand the Australian experience of war and its enduring impact on Australian society’. Off course it is not limited to Australians and is open to, and visited by all. In addition to actual war relics, film, sound and light shows, etc are used in the commemoration of sacrifices made and to inform the visitor.

    Some readers may be concerned that memorials/museums such as this glorify war and indeed many people believe this to be the case with the AWM. While I certainly believe physical force has its place in international relations I am very far from a warmonger. One life lost is one life too many – war should be a last resort.

    In its short existence (European), Australia has been involved in numerous wars and conflicts none of which (apart from relatively minor incursions in WWII) have been on Australian soil. Australian casualties in wars are now in excess of 100,000. While compared to many countries this number is small, it is worth remembering that in WWI (fought on the other side of the world) Australia had the highest ration of deaths to population of all the countries involved.

    In my view, the AWM does not glorify war but rather tries to (and largely succeeds) present a factual portrayal of war in all its nastiness and oft times futility. This does not mean that it does not pull on the average visitor’s heartstrings and emotions. It certainly does. Very few would leave here with the view that war is good, something that we should be proud of or something to be glorified.

    Note: As reviews/tips are written for the items below I will insert a link to those reviews – a short summary of each item will be included here prior to my finalising this review – please bear with me.

    Specific areas of interest to the visitor include:

    Shrine of Remembrance
    ...............Hall of Memory (in two parts)
    .............. Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier
    The First World War Galleries
    ...............World War I Dioramas
    ...............The Menin Gate Lions
    ...............Midnight at Menin Gate
    Second World War Galleries
    Aircraft Hall / ANZAC Hall
    Colonial Conflict Gallery
    Post WWII conflicts display - coming soon!
    Hall of Valour

    Also related to the War Memorial and worthy of inclusion in your visit to the Memorial

    The AWM Sculpture Gardens
    ANZAC Parade and its Memorials
    Aboriginal Memorial

    A brief (and I really do mean brief) overview of the above will require at least three hours. I recommend that you allow a full day and don’t wait until 10am to start (when the main memorial and museum opens). Anzac Parade, the Sculpture Gardens and the Aboriginal Memorial are open 24/7.

    The Memorial offers free 90 minute highlight tours with shorter tours available. If you don’t make a tour or don’t wish to there a lots of volunteer guides available who are very helpful and more than willing to answer your questions or explain things.

    Opening Hours

    Memorial and Bookshop - every day 10am – 5pm (Closed Christmas day – 25 December)

    Reading rooms and eateries’ hours differ – see website for details

    Entrance fee

    Free

    Getting there

    By car: Sufficient on-site parking but limited to a 4 hours stay - free. Should you, genuinely, wish to stay longer than this speak to staff on the orientation desk.

    By bicycle: Bicycle racks are available

    By bus:

    Regular bus services run between the City centre and the Memorial on route 10 on week days and 930/931 on weekends – check ACTION Bus website for timetables - http://www.action.act.gov.au/

    Walk: The memorial is less than 30 minutes walk from the city centre. From the rear of the Canberra Centre (shopping Centre) take Ainslie Avenue to its (end) intersection with Limestone Avenue. Turn right and in a few hundred metres the AWM will be on your right. If coming from the lake access is via ANZAC Drive.


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    Lest We Forget Australian War Memorial from ANZAC Drive Roll of Honour Simpson and his Donkey Answering the Call of Empire
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    A Peaceful Place to Remember Wars, Heroes and Dead

    by Kakapo2 Written Jul 8, 2007

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    A War Memorial is no place to honour warlords. It honours soldiers who left their homes to fight for a better world and peace. This War Memorial reflects this spirit in a serene way.

    I suppose Australians can honour their soldiers and dead in a more honourable way than we Germans can do, as they have never started a war that would have changed the world. Most Germans get too much when they see military parades although we know very well that the majority of German soldiers, for example in WWII, fought for their country and not for Hitler's wicked ideals. But we acknowledge that you Aussies and Kiwis celebrate ANZAC Day as a reminder that peace is the most important thing in the world and how horrible war is.

    The monumental concrete building was erected at the end of a straight line from Old and New Parliament House - a theoretical straight line, as ANZAC Parade is the only real avenue on this line, and it ends at the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, and no bridge connects the parliamentary zone and the War Memorial side of the lake. It sits right at the foot of Mount Ainslie, so you have the absolutely best view over those three landmarks from up there.

    The Australian War Memorial is the nation's tribute to its 102,000 war dead. Their names are listed on the Roll of Honour. It was opened by the Governor General Lord Gowrie on 11 November 1941. Additions and extensions have been made after World War II and 1971.

    The Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier commemorates all Australians who lost their lives during the wars in the armed forces or in non-combatant roles. The remains of an unidentified Australian soldier were exhumed from a cemetery at Villers-Bretonneux, France, and re-interred in the Hall of Memory on 11 November 1993.

    Although the exhibits are incredibly interesting, the commemorative area with the reflecting pool is the most beautiful part of the Memorial to me, as there you can have your own thoughts about war and peace, and digest all the horrible truths after having visited the exhibitions.

    Impressive entrance of the War Memorial.
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    Australian War Memorial

    by Clint_From_Canberra Written Apr 23, 2006

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    If your into the history of war of Australians who are or were involved all the wars then this is the best place to come.

    In the Australian War Memorial located in Campbell which is directly across the lake from the Old and New Parliament Houses which you can see clearly from the view above the entrance on the walkway.

    The Australian War Memorial has history, files, photos on past world wars, vietnam, korean, gulf war, and current wars involving Australians.

    They have different areas for each war such as the First World War as known now as the Great War and also the Second World War in different areas of combat such as European war, Japanese, War in pacific, Middle East, Asia, and other areas.

    They also have an area telling you about Gallipolli and how the Anzacs fought the battle on Anzac Cove in the First World War and after it.

    The Australian War Memorial is an interesting tourist attraction for all ages and has won a number of National Tourist Attraction Awards over the years.

    The Anzac Day services on 25th April each year begin at 5:30am for the dawn service and 10:15am for the National service which is broadcasted live on national television across Australia and I think New Zealand as well I think.

    So it's well worth the visit and entry is free.

    The Australian War Memorial is open daily from 9am - 5:30pm except closed half a day on 25th April for Anzac Day services.

    For more information about the Australian War Memorial please give them a call or visit the website listed below.

    There is public buses going to and from the War Memorial often and it's only a short drive from the city center and from the other National Tourist Attractions.

    The Lancaster bomber, G for George
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    See the original Menin Gate Lions

    by pedroswift Updated Mar 28, 2015

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    STOP PRESS
    The Lions are currently being displayed in Canada. check news coverage
    URL:http://www.centenarynews.com/article?id=2936.
    After the Canadian visit, they travel to Ypres to help commemorate the 100th Anniversary of World War 1.

    There are over 50 VT tips on the A.W.M. What can I add? Only a specific which I have found particularly touching. A response to the ANZAC' spirit from the citizens of a town half the world away.
    If you have visited Ypres (Ieper)in Belgium or if you intend to go (& it is a must for Aussies and Kiwis making a pilgimage to First World War battle sites) please note the Menin Gate Lions near the entrance to the museum at the Australian War Memorial.
    The plaque on the wall explains:
    "Menin Gate Lions
    These medieval stone lions once stood on either side of the Menin Gate in the walls of the town of Ypres in Belgium. Ypres was destroyed in the war, and these lions were recovered from the ruins of the Menin Gate.
    During the first world war allied soldiers passed through the gate to the battlefields around Ypres, where over 38,000 Australian soldiers were killed or wounded. The Gate became the site of a memorial to the British empire soldiers, including over 6,000 Australians, killed around Ypres and who have no known graves.
    In 1936 the Burgomaster of Ypres presented the lions to the Australian Government as a gesture of friendship between that town and the people of Australia. They commemorate the service of the Australian soldiers who helped to defend Ypres in 1917."

    Medieval stone lions frm  MeninGate, Ypres Belgium
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  • A Great memorial and museum

    by fellman01 Written Apr 17, 2004

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    The Australian War Memorial is a must see for anyone visiting Australia and is a great family stop.

    Australia has been an active participant in all of the major 20th century conflicts, as well as a few 19th century ones.
    The human stories are effectively and meaningfully told at the AWM. This is more than a museum - please remember to remove your hat and to act appropriately.
    Entry is free.

    The Great Hall
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    World War II at the Australian War Memorial

    by wabat Updated May 5, 2015

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    "Fellow Australians, it is my melancholy duty to inform you officially, that in consequence of a persistence by Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared war upon her and that, as a result, Australia is also at war. No harder task can fall to the lot of a democratic leader than to make such an announcement."

    This is how Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies announced to the Australian public on 3 September 1939 that Australia had once again answered the call of Empire and joined what was to be the Second World War (WWII).

    In WWII almost one million Australian men and women served.

    Initially they were engaged across Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa but in 1941 things changed. In that year the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked Pearl Harbour and advanced into South East Asia, from which point Australia was also at war with Japan.

    Australia, for the first (and last) time in its history came under direct enemy attack with Japanese bombing attacks on Northern Australian, including Darwin, and a midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour.

    By the end of WWII 39,000 Australian had lost their lives and another 30,000 had been taken prisoner. The names of the 39,000, together with those of the other 63,000 Australians lost in war since 1885, can be seen inscribed on the Roll of Honour, in the arched cloisters of the commemorative courtyard in the upper part of the War Memorial.

    The WWII Galleries trace Australia’s involvement in the various theatres of war in which it was directly engaged between 1939 and 1945 as well as covering the impact the War had on the home front. While more people (61,000) lost their lives in WWI, the social impact of WWII was greater given that for the first time in Australia’s history war came into Australia’s back yard in the Pacific and (albeit on a very small scale) into Australia itself.

    For a more complete picture the WWII galleries should be viewed in conjunction with ANZAC Hall and the Aircraft Hall which house larger military hardware (mainly aircraft) which, in large part, relates to WWII.

    Without in any way meaning to detract from the sacrifices made in WWII and its importance in world history I personally find the World War II galleries the least interesting of the galleries in the War Memorial due solely to my greater interest in earlier and later military history though various aspects of WWII do interest me from a historical perspective. Should WWII be your particular area of interest I have no doubt it is as well covered here as other wars and conflicts are, in this world-class museum/ memorial.

    To return to my Australian War Memorial review click here.


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    Canberra War Memorial

    by Kate-Me Written Jul 16, 2005

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    I wasn't sure what to expect with this attraction - something a bit dull and boring and a grey concrete building with little style like some other buildings in Canberra.... but when I read in the tourist brochures that they had a sound and light show, AND entry was free, I decided to go along, and was very glad that I did.
    The building was the most stylish one I've seen in Canberra yet. the attraction itself was both informative, interesting and exciting, yet dignified at all times, focussing on the consequences of war rather than the glory, and very thought provoking, especially the museum and interpretive part of the attraction.

    Canberra War Memorial
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    Australian War Memorial 2

    by Kate-Me Written Jul 16, 2005

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    The chapel, pictured here at the end of the walkway and Eternal Flame, I found to be the most sombre and dignified (apart from the endless walls of lists of casualty names with poppies). They somehow made it feel accessible but a place of reverence and beauty all at the same time.

    outside of the chapel
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    Australian War Memorial

    by leffe3 Updated Jun 6, 2009

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    Putting it quite simply, the Australian War Memorial is extraordinary. Half memorial, half museum, it appeases my personal concern that war memorials can sometimes fall between two stools and glorify rather than commemorate war and its fallen soldiers.

    It sits proudly at the top of the wide ceremonial avenue, Anzac Parade, with a sweeping uninterrupted view of Parliament (new and old) in the distance on the other side of Lake Burley Griffin.

    The museum contains selections from the vast National Collection of relics, official and private records, art, photographs, film, and sound are employed to relate the story of a young nation's experience in world wars, regional conflicts, and international peacekeeping. The story begins at the time sailing ships first brought European settlers, convicts, and military from England in 1789 and extends to the present. The scaled models of various battles over a period of time are some of the best of their genre I have ever seen.

    It's also a tribute to the 100,000+ Australian men and women who have lost their lives in serving their country. 'A central commemorative area surrounded by arched alcoves houses the names of the fallen on the bronze panels of the Roll of Honour. At the head of the Pool of Reflection, beyond the Flame of Remembrance, stands the towering Hall of Memory, with its interior wall and high dome clad in a six-million-piece mosaic. Inside lies the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier, an official war grave and national shrine.'

    The impetus for the creation of the Memorial was the WWI and the terrible losses Australia suffered (the highest ratio of deaths against population of all the countries involved). Ironically, the building was not completed by the time Australia entered WWII and the charter needed to be extended to include WWII victims, and then in the 1950s to include all wars. The problem of extending the brief to include all wars and necessary displays etc was not solved until 1971, when two new wings were built to display relics and artefacts.

    Now, in addition the original memorial and the display wings, there's the Sculpture Gardens and a large gallery completed in 2001.

    The Memorial is open every day except Christmas Day, 10am - 5pm.
    Entry is free.

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    A great museum of remembrance!

    by Krisanne Written May 3, 2007

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    This is a wonderful place. Lots of great exhibits. Make sure you put aside a good half to full day here. It is also free entry but you can also leave a gold coin donation to help in the upkeep of the memorial.

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    Hall of Memory – Part B

    by wabat Updated May 5, 2015

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    In Part A of this review I concentrated on the stained glass windows and the Four Pillars sculpture in the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial. In this part of my review I will cover the Mosaics and the Hall’s dome.

    While the stained glass windows are beautiful, they are not unlike those found in any large cathedral, though their subject matter of military personnel and other trappings of a military life certainly does differentiate them from the average cathedral window. What is perhaps more unique here are the mosaics (all 6.12 million pieces, or 15 tonne, making it one of the largest in the world) found in the Hall of Memory. No, Dear Reader, I did not count them – some things you just have to accept! I adore mosaics and have oft been tempted to create a mosaic of my own – something rather more modest than this, I feel.

    While the windows are a dedication to the memory of WWI the wall mosaics are dedicated to the memory of WWII.

    Of particular interest and beauty in the mosaics, which cover the entire interior of the Hall of Memory, are the four much larger than life (12 metres), almost stylised, figures representing the navy, the army, the air force and women’s services. Look carefully, can you see a tear running down the service woman’s cheek? The erect, formal posture and large eyes of the figures recall classical Greek sculptures and the Byzantine mosaics of Ravenna in Italy, which Napier Waller, the designer of both the windows and the mosaics, visited in the 1920s.

    The ensure the accuracy of the mosaic, rather than placing each of the 6 million plus Italian glass tesserae directly onto the bare walls of the Hall they were assembled, in 24 by 18-inch sections, onto backing sheets in Melbourne by Waller (himself a WWI veteran) and a group of volunteer war widows. They were then shipped to Canberra for assembly. All in all a three years long and tedious process but, like me, I am sure you will agree, worth it in the end given the quality of the final product.

    The serviceperson’s height and upright positioning draw the viewer into looking upwards, bringing his or her attention to the beautiful mosaic dome (picture 5), 24 metres above the tomb of the Australian Unknown Soldier.

    Like other components of the Hall of Memory the dome, which boldly depicts the ascent of the spirits of the fallen (symbolised by simplified winged coffins, in shapes reminiscent of Egyptian mummies), is full of symbolism which I wont go into in the detail of here. Suffice to ask you to identify, in addition to the ascending spirits, the seven rays of light (themselves based on the Rising Sun, the emblem of the Australian Infantry Force) emanating from the central sun. Each ray represents one of Australia’s States and Territories. Also identify the stars of the Southern Cross superimposed over the sun.

    The Memorial’s website in referring to the dome states how:

    It evokes the renewal of life’s forces and celebrates the immortality of those who believed in freedom and ultimately died to defend it.

    These words, I believe, could be equally applied to the whole War Memorial.

    To return to my Australian War Memorial review click here.



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    World War One Dioramas – Part 1

    by wabat Updated May 5, 2015

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    For me, the War Memorial’s WWI dioramas are one of the highlights of a visit to the Memorial and, indeed, so successful have they been with visitors that the Memorial has commissioned additional dioramas on other campaigns including two on the Korean War.

    The WWI dioramas were commissioned in the 1920s and were the brainchild of the official war artist Will Dyson and the official war historian Charles Bean. Since then they have been refurbished and updated (while retaining their original character) a number of times including, most recently, in 2014. Their three dimensional nature (which, off course, I loose in my attached photos) bring a realism to the events they depict that neither pictures or photographs can bring.

    They graphically and realistically depict, through frozen moments in time, the horrors and devastation of battle, very successfully capturing the suffering and sacrifice of those involved, without being tacky or sensationalist. This they do in a manner and with a realism which I have yet to see computer animations and other modern interactive displays emulate.

    The dioramas combine, in a totally refurbished (2014) WWI gallery, with other works of art, uniforms, military hardware, medals, photographs, posters, interactive displays and personal items such as diaries and letters to present the visitor with one of the world’s great collections of material related to WWI. Only a heartless or totally uninterested person could leave this gallery without, in some way, being emotionally touched or challenged.

    The Memorial has 13 WW1 dioramas depicting battles and events of particular relevance to ‘Australia’s War’ though most of the subject matter will be very familiar to anyone with an interest in WWI.

    Ten of these dioramas are on display. These, and a related wooden cross, also on display, I will briefly refer to below and in Part 2 of this review with a sole focus on Australia’s contribution/interest in each case. This is not intended to belittle the often greater contribution of other countries to the events depicted.

    Lone Pine diorama – Picture 1

    The battle of Lone Pine is the only Gallipoli action represented by a diorama.

    This battle was originally intended as a diversion to distract Turkish attention form New Zealand and Australian units to force a breakout from the ANZAC perimeter on the heights of Chunuk Bair and Hill 971.

    The diorama depicts the 1st Australian Infantry Brigade attack on Turkish trenches at Lone Pine at dusk on 6 August 1915. Many of the trenches were roofed with pine logs making them more difficult to take.

    While the main Turkish trench was taken within 20 minutes of the initial charge there followed 4 days of intense hand-to-hand fighting resulting in over 2,000 Australian casualties. An expensive, though necessary diversion.

    Desert Patrol diorama- Picture 2

    After Gallipoli the Australian Light Horse Brigade moved its attention to keeping watch on the Turks in the Sinai Desert as it sought to protect and retain access to the Suez Canal, a vital link to the East and Australia for the Allies.

    This diorama (not, unlike most of the others, based on an actual event or battle) depicts a typical light horse patrol in the Sinai desert during the period April–August 1916. A new background was added to this diorama in 2014 adding sound and animation with planes flying overhead and desert sandstorms appearing.

    Pozières diorama - Picture 3

    On 23 July 1916 the Australian 1st Division captured Pozières, a small village in the Somme valley in France. Over the next few weeks the Australian 1st, 2nd and 4th Divisions suffered heavily (over 12,000 casualties) in a number of German bombardments until Germany’s last unsuccessful attack to retake to village on 7 August 1916.

    Depicted here in this diorama is the remnant of an Australian Lewis gun crew upon the crest of the Somme-Ancre ridge beyond Pozieres on 7 August 1916, as it awaits that final German counter-attack on Pozieres that same day.

    Somme winter (1916-17) diorama - Picture 4

    This diorama depicts a trench located west of Gueudecourt and shows the awful conditions in which Australians fought and lived. Its hard to imagine that men had to spend the winter of 1916-17 sleeping in dugouts, roofed by duckboard and covered with a waterproof sheet, like that represented in this diorama.

    Bullecourt diorama - Picture 5

    In March 1917 the Germans had withdrawn to the Hindenburg Line to shorten their front and thus make it easier to defend. Bullcourt, in northern France lay on the Hindeneburg Line.

    With the German retreat the British and Empire forces followed up with an offensive around Arras in early April. To assist in this offensive Australian and British Divisions launched an attack on Bullecourt. What was supposed to have been an infantry attack supported by tanks ended up being primarily a very costly infantry charge as the tanks broke down or were quickly destroyed. Notwithstanding this, the infantry broke through German defenses, often through barbed wire fences that the tanks were supposed to clear, but became hemmed in and without artillery support.

    The Australians, prior to making their way back through the enemy to No-Man's Land due to lack of reinforcement or support, suffered over 3,300 casualties with a further 1,170 men taken prisoner - the largest number captured in a single engagement during the war.

    This diorama depicts the 46th Battalion, lead by Major Percy Black, fighting the first line of German trenches at Bullecourt on 11 April 1917.

    Please continue to Part 2 of this review for comment on the remainder of the Australian War Memorial's WWI dioramas.


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    Lone Pine Diorama Desert Patrol Diorama Pozi��res Diorama Somme Winter (1916-17) Diorama Bullecourt Diorama
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    World War One Dioramas – Part 2

    by wabat Updated May 5, 2015

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    In Part 1 of this review I outlined some general detail on the Australian War Memorial’s WWI dioramas and introduced the reader to five of the ten dioramas currently on display in the Memorial’s WWI Gallery. If you have not read Part 1 of this review I encourage you to do so before reading about the remaining five dioramas on display.

    Continuing………..

    Ypres diorama - Picture 1

    The Third Battle of Ypres in 1917 consisted of a series of battles, the best known of which are the final and most bloody and horrific Battles of Passchendaele which occurred in October and November 1917.

    The objective of this series of battles was to break through the heavily fortified German defenses enclosing the Ypres salient and reach enemy submarine bases on the Belgian coast.

    Australian Divisions participated in the battles of Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcapelle and the First Battle of Passchendaele. In eight weeks of fighting Australian forces sustained 38,000 casualties while the total combined casualties on the battlefileds, turned into quagmires by rain, reached over 500,000, with the desired break through not achieved.

    This diorama depicts an attack on a pillbox in the Nonne Bosschen swamp, east of Ypres, during the advance across Menin Road on 20 September 1917. Approximately 5,000 of Australia’s casualties in the overall battle were sustained in this 5 day Battle of Menin Road.

    Dernancourt diorama - Picture 2

    Dernacourt in northern France, between the city of Amiens and the small city of Albert, was located on the main railway line, and thus of great importance from a transport prospective. It found itself on the front line following a major German offensive in March 1918 – their last great hurrah, if you like.

    The 4th Australian Division (12th and 13th Brigades) withheld an attack on the town on 28th March but on the morning of 5th April, and in heavy mist, the Germans attacked again breaking though and forcing the Australians back, in what was the strongest attack they would face in WWI. That afternoon the Aussies mounted a counter-attack and forced a German withdrawal. Casualties on each side were around 1,500. Sergeant McDougall a Lewis gunner, won a Victoria Cross for heroic efforts during this battle. The VC can be seen in the War Memorial’s Hall of Valour.

    The diorama depicts a scene from early morning of 5 April 1918 showing Australians taking cover against the German advance in a sunken road and disused gun pit.

    Mont St Quentin diorama and Cross - Pictures 3 and 4

    This diorama depicts a scene during the 6th Brigade’s storming of Mont St Quentin, a strategically important hill over looking the ancient town of Peronne and the Somme River, on 1 September 1918.

    Two days later 11 men of the 21st Battalion killed in the attack were buried by their comrades in a shell crater. The wooden memorial cross (located near the diorama and depicted in picture 4 attached) was erected over the graves. Especially touching is the piece of tin, punched with the names of the dead, attached to the left arm of the cross. When the cross was retrieved by Australian War Records Section in 1919 a new cross was erected over the graves.

    Semakh diorama - Picture 5

    This diorama depicts the events of the early morning of 25 September 1918 when the 11th Light Horse Regiment (assisted by the 12th) attacked, and captured, the small mud village of Semakh which served the important Haifa-Damascus railway, in Palestine. As depicted in the diorama fighting was fiercest, and hand to hand, around the railway station which was the keystone in the enemy’s (a mixed force of Turks and Germans) defense in the last months of the Sinai and Palestine campaign.

    This diorama’s inclusion in the galleries in late 2014 (it has been in storage since 1983) has a special significance as recent research indicates that the 11th Light Horse Regiment had the largest known group of indigenous Australians in one Australian Imperial Force unit notwithstanding that, by law, Aboriginals were not permitted to serve in Australia’s armed forces until after WWII.

    Transportation of supplies 1914–18, Palestine series - not depicted here

    The Transportation of supplies 1914–18, Palestine series comprises nine small dioramas depicting the transportation of supplies in the desert campaign of Palestine between 1914 and 1918.

    Not seeking to add a third part to this review and risk over indulging on my readers time I merely invite you to have a look at this site should you wish to see pictures of these dioaramas and read a little more about them.

    https://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/dioramas/transportation_of_supplies/#Landing

    To return to my Australian War Memorial review click here.


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    The Hall of Valour

    by wabat Updated May 5, 2015

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    The Hall of Valour, symbolically positioned directly underneath the resting place of the Unknown Soldier at the Australian War Memorial, “honours the deeds of ordinary Australians under the extraordinary conditions of war.”

    It specifically recognizes the ninety-nine Australians who have won the Victoria Cross and the nine service personnel recipients of the George Cross. Five Australian civilians have received the George Cross.

    The immediately recognisable Victoria Cross – in the form of bronze Maltese Cross with a maroon ribbon simply inscribed ‘For Valour’ - was instituted in 1856 by Queen Victoria (backdated to 1854 to recognise worthy recipients in the Crimean War) and was awarded to Australians from the Boer War until 1991 when it was replaced by the Victoria Cross for Australia which is almost identical in look to the Imperial Victoria Cross.

    The most recent awards of the Victoria Cross for Australia were to Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith and Corporal Daniel Alan Keighran for acts of bravery in Afghanistan in 2010. Both these Victoria Crosses are on display in the Hall of Valour with that of the first Australian recipient, Neville Howse, a doctor by trade who served in the Boer War and around sixty others of the ninety-nine Victoria Crosses awarded to Australians. Also on display here are five of the six George Crosses in the possession of the War Memorial.

    To the right rear (entering from the front of the War Memorial) of the Hall of Valour and worthy a look is a rather odd exhibit for a war museum – part of a Byzantine mosaic floor from Shellal, near Gaza (picture 5). The link with war is that this mosaic and a number of other antiquities including a section of 4th century Roman floor mosaic from Homs in Syria (on display in the WWI Gallery) were collected by the Reverend William Maitland Woods senior Chaplin of the ANZAC Mounted Division and an amateur archaeologist.

    To return to my Australian War Memorial review click here.


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    War Memorial - Colonial Conflicts Gallery

    by wabat Updated May 5, 2015

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    Being a lover of older style museums with packed wooden and glass display cabinets, carpets on the floor, low lights and the like, I am particularly attracted to the Colonial Conflicts Gallery of the Australian War Memorial.

    Prior to federation on 1 January 1901 Australia comprised a number of separate British colonies all of which had a particularly strong affinity to the Motherland – not that it lost that affinity on federation. The Australian colonies were very much part of Empire.

    Europeans settlers first arrived in Australia in 1788 and, while local volunteer forces were established in the Australian colonies in the 1850s, British soldiers provided for Australia’s defence until 1870 (though Royal Navy ships remained in Australia until 1913). As such, a succession of British regiments pursued bushrangers, protected convict settlements, put down rebellions and suppressed Aboriginal resistance to European settlement.

    From 1870 colonial forces assumed the former role of British forces in the protection of Australia and were not called upon to serve overseas until the end of the century. The Colonial Conflicts Gallery, tucked away on the lower ground floor, commemorates Australian sacrifices in overseas conflicts up and including the Second Boer War (1899-1902).

    Specifically covered in the Colonial Conflicts Gallery are:

    The New Zealand Wars (1861-64) - The Taranaki War 1861 and the Invasion of the Waikato 1863-1864.

    The Sudan (1885) – A New South Wales Garrison went to the Sudan in 1885, in support of Britain, following the killing of General Charles Gordon who had been sent out to ‘coordinate’ the Egyptian departure from Sudan in accordance with British instructions so to do.

    The Second Boer War in South Africa (1899-1902) – Australia’s Forgotten War - being soon overshadowed by World War I. As I recall the Korean War was subsequently referred to as a Forgotten War as well – this time overshadowed by the Vietnam War. The Boer War, in which 16,000 Australians served and in which 606 died is without doubt the primary focus of the Gallery.

    Australia’s involvement with the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists – better known as the Boxer Rebellion in China (1900-1901). This was, incidentally, Australia’s first involvement in an Asian conflict. This exhibit contains one of the Memorial’s most macabre relics – a pigtail retrieved from a Boxer execution ground. Pigtails were worn by Chinese men as a sign of their subjugation by the Manchu dynasty and were cut off prior to men being executed.

    On that rather macabre note I ask you not to overlook this Gallery though many do given the volume of other great things to see within the War Memorial and a lack of time.

    To return to my Australian War Memorial review click here.


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    Colonial Conflicts Gallery Australia Answers the Call of Empire Boer War Relics Boer War-Chocolates to Troops from Queen Victoria Boxer Rebellion - Pigtail
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