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 was acquired from Government House. Two competitions where held to come up with 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 crafts.
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 symbolising 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
Address: North Terrace
Directions: Intersection of North Terrace and Kintore Avenue