Overall design for 'The Anzacs' [Desert Mounted Corps Memorial]

Place Africa: Egypt, Suez Canal, Port Said
Accession Number ART12593
Collection type Art
Measurement Overall: 137.8 cm x 163.7 cm x 88 cm
Object type Sculpture
Physical description Angaston marble and bronze
Maker Gilbert, Charles Web
Place made Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Date made 1933-1936
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


In 1923, Charles Web Gilbert, with architects Stephenson & Meldrum, were awarded first prize for their winning design for the 'Monument to the soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Forces who laid down their lives in Egypt, Palestine and Syria, 1916-1918'. The design for the memorial featured a sculpture of an Australian Light Horseman mounted on a rearing horse and a New Zealand Mounted Rifleman who had dismounted his horse. This was positioned atop a stone pedestal, which was then semi-encircled by a stone wall.

Gilbert had commenced work on the full scale sculpture component of the memorial, but died suddenly in 1925. The sculpture was then worked on briefly by Paul Montford, before being completed by Sir Bertram Mackennal. During the production of the bronze sculpture, the contract for the supply of granite and blue stone for the pedestal and pavings of the memorial had been let to Stephenson & Meldrum. The complete, full scale memorial, later referred to as the 'Desert Mounted Corps memorial', was installed in Port Said, Egypt and unveiled in 1932 by Australia's wartime Prime Minister Billy Hughes.

In 1956 the Desert Mounted Corps memorial was destroyed by rioters during the Suez Crisis. The remaining fragments of this memorial were returned to Australia. A new memorial, made by Ray Ewers and modelled on the original Gilbert/Stephenson & Meldrum design, was installed and unveiled by Sir Robert Menzies at Albany, Western Australia in 1964. A version of the bronze figures was also installed on ANZAC Parade, Canberra and unveiled by Prime Minister John Gorton in 1968.

This bronze maquette of Gilbert's sculpture, together with the stone pedestal and wall, represents in entirety the original intentions of the artist and architects for the 'Desert Mounted Corp memorial'.