Echuca War Memorial
Civic Centre Gardens
Echuca VIC, 3564
The Echuca Soldiers’ Memorial Committee produced a specially printed order of service for the long awaited unveiling of the town’s war memorial on Remembrance Day in 1927. Their quest to commemorate their local service men and women had taken nine long years to achieve and was not without incident.
Debate over the form of the memorial had been protracted. Servicemen favoured a permanent memorial rather than certificates and medals. A new town hall and an addition to the hospital were suggested but proved costly. Time passed and a new Echuca Soldiers’ Memorial Committee was formed to erect a memorial on the corner of High and Heygarth Streets, opposite the town hall.
The honorary architect, Adolphus James Inches, designed a classical column, sitting on a base of Malmsbury bluestone, with panels of Sicilian marble on four sides. A marble figure of a soldier stood at the top of the column. The tender of £1198 was awarded to the Footscray Monumental Company. Floodlighting was an additional £15.
Less than a month before the opening, disaster struck. The head of the figure fell, hitting one of the masons. He escaped serious injury but the brim of the figure’s hat had broken off. Urgent meetings debated if a new figure should be obtained but the supplier assured the committee that they would guarantee the repair and the work was completed.
Adding to an already difficult situation, the names for the roll of honour were far from complete. Recording the names of all those who had enlisted had been entrusted to a Council employee, who had been ‘lax in his duty’ and ‘only a fragment of the enlistments was recorded’. The Memorial Committee hastily canvassed local churches and organisations to obtain names.
The day of the unveiling dawned unpleasantly hot and dusty but that was of little concern to the gathered crowd. Brigadier General John Kealty Forsyth, who had commanded the 4th Light Horse Regiment at Gallipoli, officiated at the unveiling of the memorial and roll of honour on the facade of the town hall, in the presence of numerous dignitaries, returned servicemen, the 5th Cavalry Band, the local Light Horse troop, scouts, guides, church choirs and the general public. A dinner at the Palace Hotel followed.
In 1972 increasing traffic necessitated the removal of the memorial and roll of honour to the Civic Centre gardens in Hare Street.
‘Echuca Heroes Honoured’, Riverine Herald, 17 November 1927: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/114439660 ‘Soldiers’ Memorial Mishap’, Riverine Herald,19 October 1927: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/114439041
Victorian Heritage Database: http://vhd.heritage.vic.gov.au/vhd/heritagevic#detail_places;125764
Echuca Historical Society Inc
1 Dickson Street (on the Corner of Warren Street)
Echuca Vic 3564
PO Box 451,
Echuca VIC 3564
Phone: 03 5480 1325