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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Who supplied the soldier "figures" for memorials


Timb

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After the war, as memorials were going up all over the country who supplied the soldier 'figures', were they available from a catalogue?

Some seem very similar eg Cwmcarn, Tredegar & Cardiff memorials below have the same type of base with four bolt holes to connect them to the masonry. I suppose it begs the question - did you find the figure and then design stonework to suit?

14055932614_f6bf1bd8b1.jpg14075497533_3a37f9f1eb.jpg2312037747_94a4cea4cf.jpg

Edited by timb
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There were many sculptors who specialised in memorial statues - here are a few British ones with some of the memorials they did statues for

  • Vernon March - National War Memorial in Ottawa
  • Charles Sargeant Jagger - Hoylake and West Kirby War Memorial, Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner
  • George Herbert Tyson Smith - Birkenhead War Memorial
  • Nathaniel Hitch - Haydock War Memorial.
  • L F Roslyn - Holyhead War Memorial
  • Richard Reginald Goulden - Malvern

If a sculptor proved good he might be commissioned for more famous memorials and his statues might also be reproduced. Thus Jagger's first memorial at Hoylake not only led to the commission for the Hyde Park RA one but his Hoylake figure had a mould taken and was reproduced for the Shrine of Remembrance, located in Melbourne (Australia not Derbyshire)

A separate architect was usually employed for the monument and they and the sculptors would consult with one another.

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Following on Charles Sargeant Jagger has left a few memorial statues

In Paddington Station (neat Platform 1)

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_u9orsdHAiCg/TCilMk4ysqI/AAAAAAAAAb8/GIluWv75otg/s1600/PaddingtonStatue.JPG

Guildhall Square Portsmouth War Memorial

http://www.ataleofonecity.portsmouth.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/DL_P309.jpg

I believe many ot the others were equally productive.

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George Herbert Tyson Smith produced carvings, engravings and statues for 24 war memorials in the NW

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The figurative sculpture on war memorials appears similar because the sculptors were all attempting to capture and interpret the idea of mourning and loss in a way that was acceptable to the whole community.

This is exemplified in the examples posted above, they do not represent the dead (where the dead were shown, as in Jagger’s RA Memorial there was usually controversy) but soldiers mourning or, as in the last example, praising their lost comrades.

The most common imagery is the soldier with his rifle reversed; the second shows the soldier presenting arms, a more common position was ‘at ease’ and the third is a valediction.with the laurel wreath of Victory. As with depicting the dead, soldiers going into action were rare. In Bradford the figure of a soldier advancing with fixed bayonet was not considered appropriate to honour the dead of what was the ’war to end all wars’.

As to where the statues came from the civic memorials followed a tradition of civic monuments and sculptures and, as noted above, their construction and design involved both architects and sculptors. The professional institutions, the RIBA and the Royal Society of British Sculptors were each determined to maintain their professional integrity and status. The sculptors in particular were concerned about the use of local stonemasons.

The RBS recommended that figurative sculpture was more suited to towns while villages should adopt simpler non-figurative designs. In larger towns there were competitions organised with professional assessors selecting the winning design, for example it was reported there were 125 entrants for the competition to design the Dundee War Memorial, won by Thomas Braddock of Wimbledon.

As well as the sculptors listed above, all the artists of the time became involved in the design and construction of memorials, Eric Gill for example designed a number of memorials and followed his technique of carving figures in stone rather than modelled and cast in metal http://mbconservation.co.uk/?page_id=130#prettyPhoto[gallery-130]/0/

Memorial Committees were urged to seek professional advice, no matter how small the memorial, but of course many didn’t. Those that did were usually more interested in issues such as cost and professional competence rather than artistic expression.

Finance was an issue and local firms often supplied the demand. Catalogues survive in some Committee minutes but other companies simply advertised, for example William Edwards and Son of Aberdeen advertised ‘Designs submitted or prepared to Committees own ideas by our own designers’ and ‘Statuary in granite or bronze to models by well-known Sottish modellers’. At the other end of the country W.H. Snell and Son Scuptors, Carvers and Granite Merchants of Penzance promoted their ‘celebrated grey granite’ and were listing at least a dozen memorials in their advertising in 1920 ‘Charges Moderate’.

There were also sadly ‘knock offs’ of more famous designs, Blomfield for example complained of examples of his design for the Cross of Sacrifice copied, badly, by local stonemasons. Metal casting required a bit more investment but as always where there is a market someone will supply the demand and there was certainly a demand for memorials both large and small.

Ken

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There were also times when a person was used as the model for a memorial.

As our friend Ghazala says elsewhere (and I hope that he won't mind me using this), one such occasion is here:

"The 51st Highland Division memorial was unveiled in 1924 and is a sculpted statue of a Scottish soldier in his kilt. He looks across the landscape over the Y Ravine and beyond the German Front Line. Company Sergeant Major Bob Rowan of the Glasgow Highlanders was used as the model for this kilted figure. He faces east towards the village of Beaumont-Hamel. On the front of the memorial is a plaque inscribed in Gaelic: La a'Blair s'math n Cairdean which in English translates into "Friends are good on the day of battle". "

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The figurative sculpture on war memorials appears similar because the sculptors were all attempting to capture and interpret the idea of mourning and loss in a way that was acceptable to the whole community.

This is exemplified in the examples posted above, they do not represent the dead (where the dead were shown, as in Jagger’s RA Memorial there was usually controversy) but soldiers mourning or, as in the last example, praising their lost comrades.

The most common imagery is the soldier with his rifle reversed; the second shows the soldier presenting arms, a more common position was ‘at ease’ and the third is a valediction.with the laurel wreath of Victory. As with depicting the dead, soldiers going into action were rare. In Bradford the figure of a soldier advancing with fixed bayonet was not considered appropriate to honour the dead of what was the ’war to end all wars’.

Actually its simpler - many followed a style already established after the South African War Indeed for many statues its merely the uniform that allows one to distinguish the war the pose and style are much the same

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And of course the designs were reused on other memorials.

The image set below shows the memorial in Prescot (left), modelled on a soldier of the South Lancashire Regiment, but then the design was used again on the Ripponden Memorial (centre) and Kirriemuir (right). At least for the Kirriemuir memorial, they changed his headgear!

The memorial at Eccleston Lane Ends.....

http://prescot-rollofhonour.info/lane_ends_memorial

does not contain any names but is said to be modelled on the surviving son of Frerick Dixon-Nuttall, who commissioned the memorial after his son John fell in the war

post-1356-0-48908900-1400159948_thumb.pn

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Actually its simpler - many followed a style already established after the South African War Indeed for many statues its merely the uniform that allows one to distinguish the war the pose and style are much the same

Unfortunately this continuance of a civic commemorative tradition which began during Victoria's reign only serves to reinforce the lack of creative imagination of the majority of committees set up to manage the civic war memorial process and the artists they employed. This is amply demonstrated by Stephen's examples above.

The towns that used figurative sculptures were following a tradition that pre-dated the Boer War, the difference being that while a sculpture of a local worthy or general might reflect their individuality in the war memorials it was the 'nameless dead' that were being commemorated, but the process of appeal for funds, local committees and community participation within a local government framework was a tradition dating back to Waterloo. The fact the image of the soldier with rifle reversed was already an accepted funerary image is probably why it is the most common.

When artists showed more imagination, often in the memorials outside the civic commemorative tradition, there was inevitable controversy. The soldier at rest or in other traditional positions was always the traditional and safe option.

Ken

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The usual GW memorial statue is an immaculate representation of a 'Tommy', there is however a statue/memorial in Devonport Auckland New Zealand that depicts a New Zealand soldier in a more battlefield disheveled state, I saw it when I was there years ago and tried to get a photo but I could not get the detail. I hope maybe some NZ members might be able to assist ?

khaki

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The design of war memorials was often put out to open competition. They were judged by local committees and sometimes by an area representative of the Royal Institute of British Architects. The reason for the latter organisation being involved is that there was view that these memorials should also be seen as the best possible representation of art form. It would be interesting to see how many of the designs for competitive entries still exist somewhere in local archives be it in council, school or various other archives.

A final point. Most figurative memorials are of soldiers only , understandably. I wonder though how many inland memorials have figures of all three services incorporated?

TR

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Milford Haven (the fishing port on the Cleddau estuary) has all three services depicted as statuary, with the airman unusually given pride of place. A local complaint was that the sailor faced inland, and the soldier faced towards the sea. The "official" explanation was that the sailor was facing upstream towards the old naval dockyard at Pembroke Dock, while the soldier was looking towards the Victorian forts which protected the Haven - but that may or may not have been the idea. http://www.wwwmp.co.uk/pembrokeshire/milford-haven-ww1-memorial/

The airman stands above the others largely because the local Vicar was chairman of the memorial committee and lost his airman son Lieut. Edmund Sydney Howells RFC in an aircraft accident at Lympne in 1918. I seem to recall that even the sculpture's features were carved to resemble the dead man's.

Clive

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Coincidentally, I was wondering if the forum could host pictures of the different figures on Memorials.

This was after I had an email from With the British Army in Flanders linking to their latest photos online of Alfreton memorial.

I'd not seen this impressive version before:

http://thebignote.com/2014/05/15/alfreton-war-memorial/

Kath.

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and Eccleston Park War Memorial by Walter Gilbert includes a young female

Just a small correction. That isn't the "Eccleston Park" memorial, but the same Eccleston Lane Ends memorial that is commemorated on my site

http://prescot-rollofhonour.info/lane_ends_memorial

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Just a small correction. That isn't the "Eccleston Park" memorial, but the same Eccleston Lane Ends memorial that is commemorated on my site

http://prescot-rollofhonour.info/lane_ends_memorial

You need to take it up with the publishers of "Works by Walter Gilbert and their Location" by Phillip Medhurst and the Liverpool Library Records Office both who list it as Eccleston Park.

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I haven't clicked on all the links, so maybe this one has already been posted. An unusual and inspiring pose, and my favourite UK memorial.

Maxwelltown

post-86463-0-06215300-1400183918_thumb.j

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A final point. Most figurative memorials are of soldiers only , understandably. I wonder though how many inland memorials have figures of all three services incorporated?

TR

The previously mentioned Bradford Victoria Square Memorial depicts a soldier and sailor advancing with fixed bayonets.

http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Yorkshire/Bradford.html

As for nurses there is of course the Edith Cavell Memorial in central London http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/discover/people-and-places/womens-history/women-and-healthcare/the-edith-cavell-memorial/ one of many others is at Norwich Cathedral

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Edith_Cavell_monument.JPG although these are outside the mainstream and hark back to the earlier traditionof commemoration.

Slightly off topic there is currently an appeal to create a National Memorial for nurses from both world wars in the UK which will be sited at the National Memorial Arboretum it will certainly be interesting to see the final design.

http://www.newcavendishclub.co.uk/nursing-appeal.php

Ken

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You need to take it up with the publishers of "Works by Walter Gilbert and their Location" by Phillip Medhurst and the Liverpool Library Records Office both who list it as Eccleston Park.

I'll see if I can contacnt them

Looks like poor research. Eccleston Park is about 1.5 miles further down the road towards St Helens and doesn't have a War Memorial.

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There were also times when a person was used as the model for a memorial.

According to the Household Brigade Magazine, the five statues on the Guards Memorial on Horse Guards Parade were modelled from specific soldiers of the five regiments. I can't give an exact reference, I'm afraid.

Ron

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Here's the story about Brierley Hill's:

Stanley Harley – Brierley Hill

Lance Corporal Stanley Harley was only 16 when enlisted on 2 September 1914. Before the war he was employed at the Earl of Dudley’s Round Oak Works. The County Express recorded on 19 May 1917 that Stanley Harley, of Hill Street, had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal when he was only 18. He was in charge of two guns, and the only man in his team not wounded. Left alone, and under heavy artillery fire, he brought the guns safely through. On returning home for leave he was invited to join the council for their weekly meeting where he was congratulated on behalf of the town for the honour of his award. After the war when the people of Brierley Hill wanted to build a memorial to those that had fallen, he was chosen as the model for the sculpture of the soldier that stands on top of the memorial. His likeness was sent to George Brown and Sons of Kidderminster, where he was cast in marble, and still stands there to this day.

From: http://www.dudley.gov.uk/media/latest-news/world-war-one/local-heroes/

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Interesting story John. So Brierley Hill people decided to use the image of a man who had not died in the war, to commemorate those who did? Or did Lance Corporal Hartley die in the war? I won't comment on "cast in marble" save to say that's interesting too! I think next time I'm near Brierley Hill I will seek this memorial out.

Back to the main subject, I have always rather admired the war memorial in Stafford, which shows a Tommy raising his helmet in a kind of salute. Hard to interpret whether it is a victory salute, or relief at the end of the war, or a bit of each. Either way, it's a bit different. I'll try and get a photo next time I'm in Stafford, unless anyone happens to have one already to illustrate this point?

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Interesting story John. So Brierley Hill people decided to use the image of a man who had not died in the war, to commemorate those who did? Or did Lance Corporal Hartley die in the war? I won't comment on "cast in marble" save to say that's interesting too! I think next time I'm near Brierley Hill I will seek this memorial out.

Back to the main subject, I have always rather admired the war memorial in Stafford, which shows a Tommy raising his helmet in a kind of salute. Hard to interpret whether it is a victory salute, or relief at the end of the war, or a bit of each. Either way, it's a bit different. I'll try and get a photo next time I'm in Stafford, unless anyone happens to have one already to illustrate this point?

Both monuments are listed on the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association database. http://www.pmsa.org.uk

As for Brierley Hill http://ukniwm.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/ukniwm-17472-brierley-hill.jpg the database credits the sculptor as George Brown and Sons who are also credited with

producing an almost identical statue for the war memorial at Lye, although the plinth is far less ornate http://www.blackcountrywarmemorials.co.uk/54401.html

The PMSA database notes:- "A rough sketch for the memorial was provided by Councillor J. T. Fereday, chairman of the War Memorial Committee. In 1919 this was elaborated by Francis Lane, a local preacher and industrialist. One of his drawings for the proposed memorial was issued as a postcard and sold to raise funds for the project. In 1921 the Ex-Serviceman's Committee was asked to choose one of their number to pose in uniform for the figure. They chose Stanley Harley, the first Brierley Hill man to be awarded the D.C.M. Four photographs of him were sent to the sculptors, George Brown and Sons of Kidderminster, who produced a nearly identical statue for the memorial for Lye."

At Brierley Hill it seems the Committee ignored the advice to involve 'professionals' and the concept and design for the memorial did not involve an 'artist' or architect but the local community who commissioned George Brown and Sons (Stone, monumental and marble masons, Newark) to execute their design. It would be interesting to see how they 'sold' the design to Lye!

The Stafford figure is cast in bronze and was sculpted by Joseph Whitehead and Sons, Joseph Whitehead was a sculptor and monumental mason and his business was in London. His biography is on this database http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=ann_1285704615 (also the source of the information on George Brown and Sons)

The PMSA says the soldier's helmet is raised in 'jubilation' but as you say it's bit ambiguous. There is a picture here

http://www.militaryimages.net/photopost/world-war-and-commemorative-memorials/p80375-stafford-town-war-memorial.html

For those who are interested there was a programme on BBC last week about York Cathedral and the work of the masons there in creating a new statue of St Peter and showing how the stone was cut after taking measurements from a clay model, as the mason said, a centuries old technique, it's probably on iPlayer.

Ken

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