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Gayndah War Memorial

Description

Constructed in 1921, the memorial comprises a splendid art metal Honour Board mounted onto a concrete free-standing structure with pinnacles in the form of artillery shells encircled by wreaths. Such imaginative re-cycling of artillery discards being typical of Gunderson's war memorials. The bronze Honour Board is in a shape standardly used by Gunderson, bears brass lettering, and standard range of war memorial embellishments in brass, including: mounted Light Horsemen, laurel wreaths, AIF badges, crossed flags and cannons. In addition it has embellishments which are unique to this Board: at the top a figure of Britannia holding a shield of "Liberty"; and at the base kangaroos and an emu - a rather bizarre combination of British and Australian emblems. Names of about 270 local "brave men who volunteered to fight in the Great War" are listed on the Honour Board, those who died being distinguished by small crowns. The supporting structure has a stepped base, the upper step veneered with marble. Behind the memorial there is a formal garden with clipped shrubs, a war trophy (captured gun) and a metal flagstaff, so making an appropriate surround.

Additions were made to the memorial in 1995 to honour those fromt he Gayndah Shire who served in WW2, and post-1945 conflicts.

This particular memorial is a rare example of a war memorial which was privately commissioned and then donated as a public memorial, and later supplemented by another major private donation. It is situated between the Post Office and the Library in Capper Street, Gayndah and directly addresses the street. Behind is a memorial garden comprising a trophy gun, paving and garden beds, and surrounding concrete slabs which commemorate service personnel of the Second World War and subsequent conflicts up to Somalia. The Second World War names are incised in white granite, and the other plaques are in bronze.

The concrete structure sits on a wide stepped base, also of concrete apart from the central portion of the upper step which is marble veneered. The structure itself comprises a flat central section capped with a triangular pediment and flanked by two square pillars with a simple repetitive motif on the front faces. The pillars are surmounted by artillery shells encircled with bronze wreaths. At the foot of each pillar are bronze plaques commemorating later conflicts.

The bronze honour board is mounted on the central section. It displays the names of the local men who served in the First World War with those who died identified by a small crown after their name. The five columns of names are centrally located on the board and are covered by clear glass in a metal frame.

The upper section of the board is capped with scrollwork flanking a female figure of Britannia holding a shield of 'Liberty'. The figure stands above a laurel wreath encircling crossed flags and the words FOR KING AND COUNTRY. An oval plaque indicating the origins of the memorial sits below the wreaths and is flanked by AIF badges. The words ROLL OF HONOUR follow the line of the scrollwork. On each side of this central section are pilasters capped by figures of mounted Light Horsemen above the dates 1914 - 1919. Relief work of infantry men are displayed at the bottom of each pilaster.

The lower section of the board displays oval plaques in each corner with relief work of an emu and a kangaroo. Additional relief work comprises a British lion and a kangaroo in the centre and cannons at each side.

Location
Capper Street, Gayndah - 150km west of Maryborough (Burnett Highway), Gayndah Qld 4625

Location of Gayndah War Memorial

Inscription
Refer to specific additional images
Conflicts commemorated
First World War, 1914-1918
Second World War, 1939-1945
Malayan Emergency, 1948-1960
Korean War, 1950-1953
Indonesian Confrontation 1962-66
Vietnam War, 1962-1972
Somalia, 1992-1994
Peace-Keeping, 1947-Present
Memorial type
Cenotaph/Shrine
Commemorative services held

To be confirmed

Additional information

Presented by Harold H Wilson, a private donor, in honour of the district's soldiers. Example of brass work by Ernest Gunderson & Co, Brisbane, with unusual combination of Australian and British symbols, eg kangaroo & lion.

It is Queensland's most splendid honour board made by the firm of Gunderson in 1921. Ernest Gunderson being Queensland's best known local manufacturer of art metal Honour Boards at the time of World War I; its design is unique, imaginatively combining British and Australian emblems; the circumstances of its erection are unusual, in that it was commissioned by a private citizen and then donated to the local Shire and Town Councils as a public memorial; and it is an historical record of local participation and sacrifice in WWI.

In the 1960s, some unsuccessful renovation work was undertaken, resulting in the original brass lettering and backing being replaced with the present nameplates. Other minor alterations were also made at this time.

In anticipation of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Pacific War (August 1995), some of the damaged and lost items of the intervening wars were reinstated. The lost figure of Liberty was remodelled in bronze by Brisbane sculptor Fred Waitehouse from photographs of the original, and the rather two-dimensional bronze horsemen were cast (and made slightly more three-dimensional) from the identical figures on Gunderson's memorial at Petrie.

The 1903 Krupps trophy gun was repaired and fitted with replicated wheels and armour and mounted to address the street. A small commemorative garden was constructed and a surrounding series of concrete slabs holding recent memorials commemorating personnel from the locality who served in the Second World War, and later conflicts up to Somalia.

Completed in 1995, the new work and repairs to the Second World War items were researched and organised by local RSL identity 'Sam' Weller and the costs were donated by Frank Robinson on behalf of his family.

The First World War Memorial was originally complimented by a fence and a light which was removed, possibly to make way for the 1995 additions. The original flagstaff has also been replaced.
(Source: EHP Cultural Heritage Register)

Recorded by
Shirley and Trevor McIvor
Date recorded
27 February 2009

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