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The South Australian National War Memorial: In commemoration of those who served in the First World War


A city memorial to those who fought in the First World War.

photo-icon Unveiling of the National War Memorial on North Terrace, City of Adelaide Archives, HP0163, 25 April 1931
photo-icon Angel of Duty
photo-icon Angel of Compassion
photo-icon Louis Laybourne Smith
photo-icon Early stages of the construction of the National War Memorial, circa 1928
photo-icon Men quarrying the stone which was used to build the war memorial on North Terrace, State Library of South Australia, B 62524, circa 1930
photo-icon Monumental masons in their workshop displaying their work during the construction of the war memorial for North Terrace, State Library of South Australia, B 62530, circa 1930
photo-icon Pool with Imperial Lion, South Australian Government Photographic Collection, GN08974, circa 1940

More than 34,900 South Australians enlisted to serve in the First World War. This represented approximately 8.5% of the State's population, and over 35% of the male population between 18 and 44.

In 1919 the South Australian government committed to the construction of a National War Memorial to commemorate the victory achieved in the Great War (1914-1918). The Memorial was designed to honour the service and sacrifice of those who volunteered as well as the national effort required to sustain the way effort at home and abroad.

A design competition was held in 1924, however before judging was complete all the entries were lost in a fire. A second competition was held in 1926 and the winning entry was by architect Louis Laybourne-Smith, building on an earlier design by Walter Bagot that had been lost in the fire.

Constructed from Harcourt granite, Macclesfield marble and Angaston marble, the memorial features sculptures designed by Sydney sculptor, George Rayner Hoff. The marble works were sculpted by Barossa Valley artist, Albert Julius Henschke and the bronze sculptures were cast by A W Dobbie and Co Ltd. Construction began in 1928 and the memorial was unveiled to a crowd estimated at 75,000 people on ANZAC Day in 1931.

The memorial's south eastern face represents the 'Angel of Duty' holding an upright sword and calling young people to war and sacrifice. The reversed face represents the 'Angel of Compassion', holding a sheathed sword and the body of a dead youth, under which is the 'Fountain of Compassion', representing the continuous flow of memories. The record room inside the memorial houses honour rolls listing the names of the more than 5500 South Australians who died in the war.

City of Adelaide acknowledges the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains and pays respect to Elders past and present. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today. We also extend that respect to other Aboriginal Language Groups and other First Nations.

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