National War Memorial

A city memorial to those who fought in the First World War was first discussed in 1919. Architecture firm Woods, Bagot, Jory and Laybourne Smith won a competition with their design, The Spirit of Sacrifice. The firm worked with Sydney sculptor Rayner Hoff to create the memorial’s sculptures. Construction took three years and cost £30,000.

There was some controversy around the project. Design entries had to be submitted a second time as the first ones were lost in a fire. There was also heavy debate about whether to cut down some of the large elm trees on North Terrace to create a proper view of the memorial.

Governor Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthven unveiled the memorial at the Anzac Day service on 25 April 1931. Around 5,000 veterans attended the service. Among them were ex-servicemen from the country who were provided with free rail tickets to attend the event.

The marble angel framed within the main granite arch represents the "spirit of duty", and holds a sword in the shape of a cross signifying "battle and sacrifice". The three bronze figures below the angel are of a student, indicated by his gown and books, a farmer or ploughman, and a young girl. These three figures, weighing four tons, symbolise the wider community.

On the side facing away from North Terrace, you can see another angel under the arch. It holds a fallen soldier and a sword in its scabbard. A bronze lion on this side represents Australia's connection to Britain.


"Over the top"
Official photographer Hubert Wilkins shot this footage of Australian troops on the Western Front. ~ Source: 'Australia in World War 1 (c.1980)', National Film and Sound Archives, NFSA title number: 315188 ~ Creator: Hubert Wilkins
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"The Last Post"
Source: Department of Veterans' Affairs,
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