Melbourne Sculptures | War Heroes & Memorials

Melbourne takes great pride in the soldiers who have fought for our country, and nothing shows this more than the grandeur of the Shrine of Remembrance.

Reflecting the honour and courage that was displayed by veterans, nurses and also the families of those that gave of themselves for others, there are many tributes in Melbourne that echo a perhaps simpler time when greater adversity was required of those who served our army, making their stories all the more remarkable for the astounding hardship they often faced.

Here are just some of the memorials and statues that you'll find throughout Melbourne that honour and represent all that have served not just for the hopes of a better Australia, but a better world at large.

War Memorials & Statues

Statuary of the Shrine of Remembrance
by Paul Montford, 1928 - 1934
Located at the Shrine of Remembrance
    Created by the sculptor, Paul Montford, the statuary of the Shrine of Remembrance is made of four groups that mark each corner of the Shrine. Representing Peace, Justice, Patriotism and Sacrifice, the statues feature Greek and Assyrian influences and were initially criticised for having no Christian motifs or elements.

    Similar criticism was also made for the overall Shrine itself which was designed by Melbourne architects and war veterans, Phillip Hudson and James Wardrop, who won the right to design the memorial after a design competition was held. Based on one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the ancient Tomb of Mausolus at Halicarnassus, the design was even labelled as being pagan due to the lack of a cross upon the Shrine.

    Originally intended as a memorial arch that would span across St Kilda Rd, it was also proposed at one point that the Shrine instead be a cenotaph in a large "ANZAC Square"at the top of Bourke Street. As this would have also included demolishing one of Melbourne's oldest buildings, the Windsor Hotel, the 1927 ANZAC Day march was also held as a demonstration, led by General Sir John Monash, former commander of the Australian forces.

    The foundation stone of the Shrine was laid in November of 1927 on Remembrance Day, but construction wasn't completed until September of 1934 with progress having being slowed during the depression.

Widow and Children
by Louis Laumen, 1998
Located at the Shrine of Remembrance
    Showing a mother and two children, this bronze statue is a tribute to fallen soldiers and also those left behind to mourn and honour them. The statue is found at the Shrine of Remembrance's Legacy Garden.

The Man with the Donkey
by Wallace Anderson, 1936
Located at the Shrine of Remembrance
    Wallace Anderson's most well known sculpture is this statue that displays the extraordinary camaraderie and compassion of the Australian soldiers in Gallipoli, depicting a man leading a donkey that bears a wounded soldier.

    Located at the Shrine of Remembrance beneath a lone pine there, the statue honours Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick. One of many stretcher bearers who would rescue fallen soldiers during the First World War, Simpson landing at Anzac Cove in1915 and soon after acquired a donkey that he used to carry the wounded away from the frontline to the safety of the shore where they'd be evacuated. Braving gunfire on the fields, Simpson carried out his noble work for three and a half weeks before he was tragically killed.

    Among other memorials to Private Simpson, there is also a statue by Peter Corlett outside the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and also a statue of Simpson and his donkey found in South Shields in the UK.

Wipers (Also known as Ypres) & The Driver
by Charles Sargeant Jagger, 1937
Both located at the Shrine of Remembrance
    Wipers, by Charles Sargeant Jagger, is also referred to as Ypres which is the true name for the battlefields of France that the statue commemorates. Ypres was the scene of great conflict during World War 1, claiming the lives of thousands of Australian soldiers. A striking image of a soldier with his rifle held at waist length, the stance and expression of the soldier implies a grim and mournful observation of war.

    The Driver, another of Jagger's sculptures, casts just as imposing a figure, depicting a World War I soldier with his arms outstretched. Mounted on a stone block, the statue has one foot placed forward, offering a rather solitary appearance that can either be taken as a gesture of defiance or resignation in the midst of battle.

    Both statues were formally located in the forecourt of the State Library of Victoria but were moved to the Shrine Reserve in 1998. Both of these sculptures are in fact replicas of the bronze originals which are found at the Royal Artillery Memorial in Cheshire, UK.

Monument to the 5th Contingent (Boer War Monument)
by George de Lucy (Architecht) & Joseph Hamilton (Sculptor), 1903
Located at St Kilda Road
    The Boer War actually refers to two wars that took place in South Africa, where fighting was held between the British and descendants of the Dutch settlers in Southern Africa who were named Boers.

    The wars were fuelled by Britain's efforts to annex the southern area of the African continent where the Boers had settled, hoping to create a single unified state to establish trade routes to India. There was also that fact that there'd been the discovery of large diamond deposits in the area. Britain's interests were also a matter of political pride in some part, as there was a great deal of European expansion with colonisation attempts being made by other nations such as Portugal, Germany and France.

    With the first battle held between 1880 and 1881 and the second war between 1899 and 1902, the Australian Colonies offered troops in 1899, sending their first Mounted Australian units to South Africa in December that year.

    With six colonies established here in Australia contributing to the war, at least 12,000 Australians served in contingents that were raised and it's estimated that at least 600 soldiers died in the campaign, with almost half of those who dies being from Victoria.

    The Boer War Monument, located in St Kilda Road opposite the Victoria Barracks, was erected in 1903 shortly after hostilities ceased.

    Made of sandstone with a bluestone base, the Monument was designed by the noted architect George De Lacy Evans and the sculpture was completed by Joseph Hamilton. The Monument is notable in that it was funded by the Victorian Mounted Rifles Regiment, rather than public subscription.

    The Monument is the largest in Australia that commemorates the Boer War, and was possibly such an ambitious endeavour because the Victorian 5th Contingent that it honours was in fact unfairly tainted by accusations of cowardice among their ranks. This was due to the disastrous casualties during battles at Wilmansrust, Central Transvaal, where three members of the unit were later falsely and foolishly accused of cowardice.

Weary Dunlop
by Peter Corlett, 1995
Located at Kings Domain
    Born in Wangaratta, Victoria, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Ernest Edward "Weary"Dunlop was an Australian surgeon who was renowned for his leadership during his time spent as a prisoner of war, captured by the Japanese during World War II.

    During World War II, Dunlop was appointed to medical headquarters in the Middle East, where he developed the mobile surgical unit. He also liaised with forward medical units and Allied headquarters while in Greece, and at Tobruk he acted as a surgeon until the Australian Divisions were withdrawn for home defence.

    In 1942 Dunlop was captured in Bandung, Java, along with the hospital he was the time, and was made a Japanese prisoner of war where he displayed his leadership skills among other prisoners.

    After being held in a number of camps in Java, he was eventually moved to the Thai-Burma railway, where prisoners of the Japanese were forced into labour, constructing a supply route between Bangkok and Rangoon. Conditions in the railway camps were beyond horrific, with food in sparse supply and the prisoners frequently beaten. There were no medical supplies and tropical disease was rampant, making the physical demands required by the Japanese all the more harsh and cruel.

    During this terrible time, Dunlop's dedication and heroism became a legend among other prisoners, raising morale with the great compassion and bravery he showed, often defying the Japanese captors to give medical aid to fellow prisoners. Inspiring the same dedicated bravery in others, Dunlop set an example that led to Australians having the highest survival rate among those who were captives of the war.

    An even greater show of compassion was displayed following the war when Dunlop forgave his captors in the hopes of bettering relations between Australia and Asia, and turned his efforts to healing the emotional and physical wounds that were still carried by not only former prisoners-of-war but also their families.

    A pioneer in the medical field, in his chosen field of surgery Dunlop developed new techniques in combating cancer. Closely involved with a broad range of health and educational organisations, his endless and seemingly tireless enthusiasm for helping others made his nickname of 'Weary' quite ironic. The nickname had long been attributed to him since his undergraduate days, playing on his surname of Dunlop by referring to the brand of tyre, which led to 'tired,' ending with the playful moniker of Weary that we all know so well.

Nurse Cavell
by Margaret Baskerville, 1926
Located at Kings Domain
    Edith Louisa Cavell was a British World War I nurse and humanitarian who is celebrated for helping hundreds of Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium.

    During the war Nurse Cavell assisted hundreds of Allied force soldiers in escaping from occupied Belgium to the neutral Netherlands. A violation of military law, she was arrested on August 3 by the Germans in 1915 and was charged with harbouring Allied soldiers, but not for espionage.

    There was a great degree of controversy surrounding her arrest and also her execution, which incensed the public so much that Nurse Cavell became a martyr. Used widely in Britain's propaganda campaigns during the war, she was often depicted on postcards as being younger than she actually was at the time of her death on October 12.

    Compassionate to a fault, the night before her execution she told the Anglican chaplain, the Revd Father Gahan, who had been allowed to visit Nurse Cavell and give her Holy Communion, 'Patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.' These words are inscribed on another statue of her which resides in Saint Martin's Place, near Trafalgar Square in London.

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