South African War Memorial

South African War Memorial, ANZAC Square, Brisbane, Australia

Public Art : South African War Memorial, also known as the Boer War Memorial

Sculptor : © James Watts

Date : 1919

Description : A bronze life-size statue depicting a Queensland Mounted Infantryman on his stead. If you look carefully you will see the horse is branded with the letters QG (Queensland Government). On two sides of the trachyte pedestal are bronze plaques with the names of the eighty-nine Queensland soldiers who lost their lives in the Boer War. The pedestal was made by the local masonry firm of Lowther and Sons.

Cost : £2,674 (including pedestal)

Location : The South African War Memorial was originally located at the intersection of Turbot and Edward Streets (below Jacobs Ladder), but was moved to Adelaide Street side of ANZAC Square (brisbane) in early April 1939, just in time for the Anzac Day ceremonies.

Inscription :

For God King and Empire

To the men and women who
by patriotism and sacrifice
served their country
during the Great Wars
1914-1918 1939-1945
and in hallowed memory
of those who made
the supreme sacrifice
this monument is erected
by the people of Queensland

Really brief history behind the Boer War : The Boer War, which was also known as the South African War, was fought between 11 October 1899 and 31 May 1902. The war was between the British Empire (including its colonies of Australia, Canada and New Zealand) and two independent Boer republics (Orange Free State and the Transvaal Republic). During the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815), southern Africa had been divided up between British colonies and independent republics of Dutch-Afrikaner settlers (Boers). The two had pretty much co-existed peacefully together without too many conflicts, that was, until, the 1880's, when gold and diamonds were discovered in the Boer republics.

The British, under the lead of Alfred Milner (High Commissioner of Cape Colony in South Africa), wanted to create a Cape-to-Cairo confederation of British colonies and basically take over the gold mines in the Dutch Boer republics. In 1899 tensions were high and the Boers, fearing the British would attack, declared war and invaded Cape Colony and Colony of Natal. The war would last nearly 3 years and lead to the the Union of South Africa being established as a member of the Commonwealth in 1910.

History Behind the South African War Memorial in Queensland : This memorial was first envisaged in 1901 prior to the Boer War's end. The following year the Fallen Soldier's Memorial Committee was formed. Unfortunately the public were not very responsive to donating money for the statue and it was left mainly up to the South African War servicemen to contribute the majority of the funding required. As is mostly the case with public memorials, a competition was held for the best design and that honor went to local artist James Watt in 1912. Watt's clay model was sent to England to be cast in bronze but it coincided with the outbreak of World War I and could only be completed following the end of the war.

Points of Interest: This memorial was the first statue created by a local artist in Queensland.

The soldier is rumored to be based on the bronze statue "The Scout in War" by sculptor William Reynolds-Stephen, which was erected in East London, South Africa in 1908.






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