War Memorials for the Sudan and Boer Wars

2014
CC BY-SA 2.0
Cite this

War Memorials for the Sudan and Boer Wars

From ancient times, war memorials have commemorated great victories. They were not meant to remember or honour the dead, who were usually buried in unmarked communal graves. It was not until the nineteenth century that the dead warriors became the focus for commemoration.

Sudan War

The earliest conflict commemorated in Sydney is a plaque commemorating the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. It was unveiled in the Waterloo Town Hall (now the Waterloo Library) by the eighth Duke of Wellington in 1990, and, as such, represents twentieth century, rather than colonial ideals. [1]

Sydney’s [media]earliest memorial to Australian soldiers commemorates those whose deaths were associated with the Sudan (or Soudan) War of 1885, although none of them fell in battle. The Colony of New South Wales had raised a contingent of about 750 volunteers from the Royal New South Wales Regiment to fight alongside the British Army, the first time an Australian government had committed an army to fight overseas. The Australians arrived too late for any fighting, but nine of them died from illness and four of these are commemorated by a plaque in St Andrew’s Cathedral, erected by their comrades. [media]The contingent itself is commemorated by a plaque in the Sydney Town Hall. [2]

In 1885 commemorative plaques to the entire Sudan contingent were unveiled at what is now the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House, near the wharves from which the men embarked for their adventure. [3] In 1985 a centenary plaque was added, and a stained glass window was dedicated in Holy Trinity Anglican Church Hall, Millers Point, commemorating the Regiment. [4] A monument to the Royal New South Wales Regiment, acknowledging its first Battle Honour at Suakin (Sudan), and the embarkation of troops for subsequent conflicts, was unveiled at Circular Quay in 2007. [5]

Boer War

[media]Some 500 Australians died in the Boer (South African) War of 1899-1902. There are a number of poignant memorials to fallen individuals in Sydney. In the foyer of the Sydney Town Hall is a tablet in memory of Sergeant Major George Griffin, believed to be the first man enlisted in an Australian military force to be killed in a foreign war. [6] The memorial at Watsons Bay for Lieutenant GJ Grieve, an elaborate structure originally surmounted by the figure of a soldier in the uniform of the New South Wales Scottish Rifles, was Australia’s first monument depicting an Australian soldier in uniform. [7] It was not universally admired. Journalist and planner George Augustine Taylor, a keen imperialist, said it was

…a crude representation of a soldier…and all the glory and honor that it intended to bestow on the departed hero, is utterly discounted on account of the ridicule engendered. [8]

Leichhardt Public School honoured Frederick Isaac Kilpatrick, a long-serving teacher. [9] Residents of Beecroft erected a memorial for David John Willis, to commemorate his life ‘and to impress upon the local citizens, especially young people, the importance of duty and discipline’. [10] Such qualities were perhaps more highly prized then than now.

There are also significant collective memorials. A plaque in St Andrew’s Cathedral commemorates the New South Wales contingents that served in the war. [11] Several suburbs have Boer War memorials. [media]The Parramatta and District War Memorial – Boer War, dedicated to 15 fallen soldiers from the area, is probably the most elaborate of all Boer War memorials in Australia. It consists of the traditional broken column (symbolising a life cut short) inside a classical temple-like structure, surmounted and flanked by guns dating from the Crimean War, which were brought to Australia in the 1850s for defence against possible Russian attack. [12] The Manly Boer War Memorial commemorates two local soldiers killed in 1900 and, curiously, a civilian who drowned in the ocean in 1902 while trying to save another bather. [13]

The AIF Memorial Wall at Woronora Cemetery includes plaques commemorating three nurses who served in both the Boer War and World War I. [14]

Examples of school memorials for old boys who died in the Boer War include Newington College’s Boer War Honour Roll, and the memorial Roll of Honour, listing old boys, which has been incorporated into the 1914-1918 War Memorial Playing Fields at Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore) at Northbridge. [15]

An unusual memorial, or perhaps commemorative plaque, is the street sign for Persic Street, Belfield. It commemorates the ship Persic, which in 1900 carried British troops to the Boer War, and brought home wounded and sick Australian soldiers. [media]She also served as a troopship during World War I. [16]

References

KS Inglis. Sacred Places: War Memorials in the Australian Landscape. (Third Edition). Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2008. First published 1998.

NSW Government, Register of War Memorials in New South Wales, http://www.warmemorialsregister.nsw.gov.au/

'Conflict', Monument Australia, http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/conflict

Notes

[1] 'Battle of Waterloo Commemorative Plaque,' Monument Australia, viewed 28 November 2014, http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/conflict/colonial/display/97283-battle-of-waterloo-commemorative-plaque

[2] KS Inglis, Sacred Places: War Memorials in the Australian Landscape, 3rd ed., (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2008), 16

[3] 'Soudan (Sudan) War Commemoration Plaques Circular Quay,' Register of War Memorials in NSW, viewed 26 November 2014, http://www.warmemorialsregister.nsw.gov.au/content/soudan-sudan-war-commemoration-plaques-circular-quay

[4] 'Soudan Contingent Plaques,' Monument Australia, viewed 28 November 2014, http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/conflict/colonial/display/23292-soudan-contingent-plaques; 'Royal New South Wales Regiment Sudan,' Monument Australia, viewed 28 November 2014, http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/conflict/colonial/display/96171-royal-new-south-wales-regiment-sudan

[5] Royal New South Wales Regiment Memorial, Monument Australia, viewed 1 December 2014, http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/conflict/colonial/display/23266-royal-new-south-wales-regiment-memorial

[6] KS Inglis, Sacred Places: War Memorials in the Australian Landscape, 3rd ed., (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2008), 37-38

[7] KS Inglis, Sacred Places: War Memorials in the Australian Landscape, 3rd ed., (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2008), 40-41

[8] Construction and Local Government Journal, 17 February 1919, 5; Michael Roe, 'Taylor, George Augustine (1872–1928),' Australian Dictionary of Biography, (Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University), viewed 28 November 2014, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/taylor-george-augustine-8756/text15343

[9] Sydney Morning Herald, 9 April 1900, 8; 'Kilpatrick Memorial,' Register of War Memorials in New South Wales, viewed 26 November 2014, https://www.warmemorialsregister.nsw.gov.au/content/kilpatrick-memorial

[10] 'David John Willis Memorial,' Register of War Memorials in New South Wales, viewed 26 November 2014, https://www.warmemorialsregister.nsw.gov.au/content/david-john-willis-memorial

[11] 'St Andrews Cathedral - Boer War Memorial Plaque,' Register of War Memorials in New South Wales, viewed 28 November 2014, http://www.warmemorialsregister.nsw.gov.au/content/st-andrews-cathedral-boer-war-memorial-plaque

[12] KS Inglis, Sacred Places: War Memorials in the Australian Landscape, 3rd ed., (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2008), 55-56

[13] 'Manly Boer War Memorial,' Register of War Memorials in New South Wales, viewed 26 November 2014, https://www.warmemorialsregister.nsw.gov.au/content/manly-boer-war-memorial

[14] 'Woronora Cemetery AIF Memorial Wall, Boer War Nurses Plaques,' Register of War Memorials in New South Wales, viewed 28 November 2014, http://www.warmemorialsregister.nsw.gov.au/content/woronora-cemetery-aif-memorial-wall-boer-war-nurses-plaques

[15] 'Sydney Church of England Grammar School WW1 Roll of Honour,' Register of War Memorials in New South Wales, viewed 26 November 2014, https://www.warmemorialsregister.nsw.gov.au/content/sydney-church-england-grammar-school-ww1-roll-honour

[16] 'City of Canterbury Street Plaque – PERSIC,' Register of War Memorials in New South Wales, viewed 26 November 2014, http://www.warmemorialsregister.nsw.gov.au/content/city-canterbury-street-plaque-persic

.