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Great War Memorial
Makhanda (Grahamstown), Eastern Cape

Date:1919
Type:Memorial
Status:Extant

 


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Coordinates:
33°18'35.62" S 26°31'38.42" E Alt: 549m

The Grahamstown Great War Memorial is located to the east of the Cathedral of St Michael and St George. The central memorial is surmounted by a bronze statue and is flanked on north and south sides by two smaller rectangular memorials, added at the end of the Second World War.

All three memorials are constructed in a light grey speckled granite. The central memorial has a rectangular granite plinth, with setbacks on east and west sides and curved east front. The memorial surmounts a generous granite base comprising three broad steps, with a segmentally curved treads on the east side. The steps are in turn surrounded by a grassed apron raised above the pavement level. The north and south faces of the plinth of the central memorial each has a rectangular bronze name plaque.

The two smaller rectangular memorials are each raised on a low granite base. The original name plaques on these memorials have presumably been removed and have been replaced with painted name plaques.

The bronze statue on the central memorial is a replica of the sculpted marble original by Gilbert Ledward made for Stockport War Memorial, near Manchester in the United Kingdom. The date of 1923 is inscribed on the sculpture alongside the name of the artist. Gilbert Ledward was well known as designer of war memorials after the First World War.

The sculpture can be described as a life size statue of Britannia, draped with a flag, standing behind a kneeling man representing the fallen. Britannia was personified as an armed goddess wearing a Corinthian helmet - a rhetorical evocation of a British national identity. In her right hand she holds the Sword of Honour, in her left the Palm of Victory laurel wreath. A serpent lies crushed beneath the shield at the man's feet.

The east face of the central memorial has a curved front with an inscription (in English and Dutch) framed with a stylised granite garland which returns down both sides of the inscription. The years 1914 - 1918 are carved in raised letters across the top of the garland. The inscription is made in finely crafted lead letters (albeit that some letters been removed affecting the legibility of the text).

1914 - 1918
REMEMBERING
THESE
LET NO MAN THINK
TOO HIGHLY OF HIM
SELF OR MEANLY OF
MANKIND

DEZE MANNEN
GEDENKEND
OVERSCHATTE NIE
MAND ZICHZELVEN
ONDERSCHATTE
NIEMAND DE
MENSHEID.

On the front face of the top riser of the east face of the central memorial is a V-cut inscription recording the details of the foundation stone:

THE FOUNDATION STONE OF THIS MEMORIAL WAS LAID BY
MRS. L. L. GIDDY M.B.E. PRESIDENT OF THE WAR SUFFERERS AID SOCIETY
ON 4TH AUGUST 1919.

(Mr. L L Giddy was Chairman of the Council of St. Andrew's College in Grahamstown at that time).

The west face of the central memorial has the (then) coat of arms of Grahamstown carved in raised relief, surrounded by a circular laurel wreath. Below this is another inscription in English and Dutch - also made in finely crafted lead letters (again with some that have been removed affecting the legibility).

IN MEMORY OF
THE MEN OF ALBANY AND BATHURST
WHO IN MANY FRONTS AND IN MANY
UNITS DIED FOR A GREAT CAUSE
1914 - 1918
TER GEDACHTENIS AAN
DE MANNEN VAN ALBANY EN BATHURST
DIE OP VELE OORLOGSTONELEN EN IN
VELE LEGERAFDELINGEN VOOR EEN
VERHEVEN ZAAK GEVALLEN ZYN

The memorial forms a fine landmark in the public open space edged by the east end of the Cathedral and in close proximity to the H Maynard Drinking Fountain.

Descriptive text and transcriptions of wording compiled and submitted by William Martinson.