ID numberART41018
Collection typeArt
TitleMont St Quentin
MeasurementOverall: 340 x 850 x 530 cm; height of largest figure: 58 cm; height of smallest figure: 7 cm; digital background duration: 8:00 hrs
Object typeDiorama
  • Gilbert, Charles Web
  • Gilbert, Charles Webster 'Web'
  • Gilbert, Charles Webster 'Web'
  • Mountford, Arlo
  • McCubbin, Louis
Place madeAustralia: Victoria, Melbourne
Date made1920-1923
Physical descriptionfigures: paint on lead; background: synthetic polymer paint on plywood; modelling: paint on plaster over wood and wire; background: 2-channel HD digital animation with sound
CopyrightCopyright expired - public domain
DescriptionThis diorama relates to Mont St Quentin on 29 August 1918 when the Germans fell back to the line of the Somme west and south of Péronne, closely followed by the 5th and 2nd Divisions. Here the right and centre of the Australian Corps were brought to a standstill, first by the destruction of the bridges across the marshy southward stretch of river; second, by the immense tactical strength of the right-angled bend of the river in the vicinity of Peronne. Successful action by the 3rd Division on 30 August north of the Somme, however, led to enemy retirement on to Mont St Quentin and Peronne. That night the river was crossed at Feuilleres by the 2nd Division, which in three days of fighting against the Prussian Guard, completely carried the height of Mont St Quentin at the angle of the river commanding Péronne, while that town was captured by the 5th Division on 1-4 September by fierce hand-to-hand fighting. This turned the flank of the Somme line. The diorama shows the 6th Brigade about to resume the attack from Elsa Trench.
While on display in Melbourne and Sydney the original figures were made of plasticine and were cast in metal in 1928 for eventual installation at the Memorial in Canberra. In 1939 the diorama was damaged when a load of bricks fell onto it during the Memorial's construction. Leslie Bowles was commissioned to remodel the destroyed figures; Louis McCubbin painted the original figures, background and modelling. The background was repainted by George Browning, first in 1947 and again in 1987, with Rob Slater, when the work was refurbished for relocation. Don Evans is also noted as having repainted parts of the background at some stage, possibly when the work was relocated to the Gallipoli gallery in 1971.
LocationMain Bld: First World War Gallery: Western Front 1918: Mont St Quentin