The Boer War (1899 to 1902) was the first war in which South Australians fought.
In 1899, the Orange Free State and Transvaal declared war on Britain. South Australia, "fiercely" loyal to the British Empire and still a colony, joined the other Australian colonies in sending troops to support the Empire in the conflict. 1531 men and 1507 horses where sent from South Australia. By the end of the war on 31 May 1902, at least 59 South Australians had been killed.
Immediately after hostilities ended it was decided to construct an equestrian memorial which Captain Adrian Jones, a London veterinarian, military officer and sculptor who had an "affinity for animals" was commissioned to build. The 12ft high granite pedestal was separately acquired. The bronze plaques on the sides of the pedestal list the names of 59 South Australians who died in the conflict.
When it was unveiled on 6 June, 1904, the memorial was referred to as the South Australian "National War Memorial", but the name was later changed to the South African War Memorial after the 1931 completion of a new memorial on the corner of Kintore Avenue and North Terrace, which was built to remember those who served in the first World War. See my separate review on the WWI National War Memorial
The South African War Memorial is located in front of Government House on the corner of North Terrace and King William Road. It is sited to face in a south-westerly direction so that the setting sun falls on the face of the horseman (modeled on Regimental Quarter Master Sergeant G.H. Goodall, a member of the Australian Coronation Corps in London at the time for the coronation of King Edward VII).
The National War Memorial has a prime corner sight at the intersection of North Terrace and Kintore Avenue and was opened in 1931 to commemorate those South Australians who gave their lives in World War I between 1914 and 1918. Why it is called the “National” War Memorial is not clear as it only commemorates South Australians lost during the War – perhaps initial intentions differed.
The decision to build the memorial was taken in 1919 and land acquired from Government House. Two competitions where held to find a design for the memorial. Why two? Well, the entries for the first competition in 1924 where lost in a fire which destroyed the building in which they were housed. Architectural firm Woods, Bagot, Jory & Laybourne-Smith was the winner of the second competition in 1926.
The resultant memorial is in the form of a double sided marble frame. Through Rayner Hoff's marble reliefs and bronze statues, one side depicts the prelude to and the other side the epilogue to war. The prelude is depicted by the willingness of youth to answer the call of duty with the epilogue depicting the extent of the sacrifices made.
Representing the prologue of war the Spirit of Duty (the art deco style male angel) is seen appearing before the youth of South Australia represented by bronze statues of a girl, a student and a farmer who are seen abandoning the symbols of their craft.
Depicting the epilogue of the war, the Spirit of Compassion - a winged spirit of womanhood - is seen bearing aloft the body of a dead soldier symbolizing and commemorating the sacrifice of the dead and the loss suffered by their loved ones. The flow of water below represents the constant flow of memories while the crowned lion represents the British Commonwealth of Nations.
The memorial is not intended to celebrate victory but rather display a willingness to serve and to sacrifice.
Be sure to “enter” the frame to the inner shrine where you will find, on the bronzes around the wall, inscribed the names of the approximately 5000 South Australians who lost their lives in World War I. 35,000 South Australians served in the war – one of the bronzes in the shrine is dedicated to all those who served in the war.
The site has grown over the years to incorporate a number of smaller memorials, including a roll of honour for those who died in World War II. Spend a little extra time and have a look at these too.
Admission : Free
Opening hours : 24hrs per day
War Memorial to South Australians – This was erected in memory of those who died in the Victory of the Great War 1914-1918.
The memorial, known as the 'Spirit of Sacrifice' was unveiled before 75,000 people on 25 April 1931. Inside the memorial are brass tablets that are cast with the names of fallen South Australians. Walls have been erected on the perimeter to house the tablets of WW2, Korean, and Vietnam servicemen and women who also lost their lives.