I really like this impressive granite war memorial, located between the beach and the small town centre (main street), which also serves as a useful timepiece with a clock on each face of the memorial. It doesn’t really matter that the time on each clock differs by a few minutes – you’re here for leisure purposes. From a memorial perspective the clock reminds us that times passes by for all of us. On top of the memorial is a white marble Angel of Peace (the Semaphore Angel) or is it Winged Victory, with wings outspread and symbolical palm in hand?
The memorial was unveiled on 24 May 1925 (Empire Day), as a World War I memorial, by Lieutenant Colonel L.O Betts, President of the Semaphore and Port Adelaide Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League (forerunner of the current day Returned Services League). The memorial was designed and built by Adelaide “monumentalist” J.E.Topham. My spell check doesn’t like the word monumentalist (which he, Topham, was called in those days) so I guess a builder of monuments is called something else nowadays.
One of the cornerstones on the memorial was laid by Col CP Butler on behalf of returned sailors and soldiers on the 27th April 1924 but more interestingly, and something I have not seen before, is that another cornerstone was laid by a Mr Magnus Wald on behalf of the parents of those who fell and another by Miss Edith Sanders on behalf of the widows and orphans of the fallen. I think these are a nice personal touch for 1924 to a war memorial that was normally a very formal military structure. Readers may not be aware that in relative terms Australia fared very badly in terms of casualties in WWI – out of 300,000 volunteers who answered the call of Empire, more than 60,000 failed to return home.
The plaque, in memory of those who died in World War I, takes the form of a small locked brass door – I am intrigued to know what is behind that locked door.
While established as a WWI memorial, a further plaque has been added to it in memory of those who served in World War II, Korea, South East Asia, Malaya, Borneo, Vietnam and most recently in United Nations Operations.
This memorial replaced a colourful wooden structure erected in 1916 as an interim memorial and entrance arch to the Semaphore Jetty. Each pillar of the 1916 arch recorded the names of approximately 700 who served in WWI from the local district. No names are recorded on the current memorial. Perhaps there is a list behind the small locked door?
Address: Semaphore Foreshore
Directions: At the end of Semaphore Road (the towns main street)