Mont St Quentin

Collection ID ART41018
Collection type Art
Title Mont St Quentin
Measurement Overall: 340 x 850 x 530 cm; height of largest figure: 58 cm; height of smallest figure: 7 cm; digital background duration: 8:00 hrs
Date made 1920-1923
Place made Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Object type Diorama
Maker Gilbert, Charles Web, Gilbert, Charles Webster 'Web', Gilbert, Charles Webster 'Web', Mountford, Arlo, McCubbin, Louis
Copyright Copyright expired - public domain

This 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 Peronne, 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 Peronne, 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.