The construction of Nowra’s Boer War memorial was very much a community effort. In 1900, a committee was formed to raise funds for what was originally intended to mark just one aspect of the Boer War “the brave defence of Mafeking by Colonel Baden-Powell.”
Subscriptions were sought and, in January 1902, the memorial, designed by Nowra stonemason James Dudgeon and created from Carrera marble imported from Italy, was now dedicated to all from the district who had fallen in the war with the simple but eloquent words: “To “our soldiers” in South Africa 1899 – 1902.”
Delivering the commemoration address at Nowra’s Boer War Day service HMAS Albatross, Commanding Officer, Captain Simon Bateman said the original fund raising committee would consider their £80 very well spent if they knew that 112 years later, people would still be gathering at the Memorial in a ceremony of thanks and tribute to the 16,000 Australians who fought in the Boer War.
Mr Rick Meehan, Secretary Nowra-Greenwell Point RSL Sub-Branch said commemoration services such as these played a vital role.
“It’s important for us to have these ceremonies, to pay our respects, and to remember the fallen and the sacrifices of all involved. While the Boer War was over a hundred years ago, those guys shouldn’t be forgotten. It was the first time we sent troops to a war as one nation and one army and the fact that 6 Victoria Crosses were awarded to Australian soldiers is quite amazing considering the number of troops involved and evidence of the commitment of those who served.”
Captain Bateman said the Boer War held an important place in Australian history. “The soldiers of the Boer War, the “our soldiers” of this monument, and their reputation for bravery against all odds, laid the foundation for the ANZAC legend of World War 1 and the enduring characteristics – good humour, resilience, compassion, and a desire to get the job done despite adversity, can be seen in the combat troops, support and medical staff of the Australian Defence Force today.”
“This memorial, this link with history, will always ensure that the contributions and sacrifices of those who served in the Boer War are recognised and commemorated in a way which will preserve this important aspect of our heritage,” Captain Bateman said.
Press Release, June 9, 2014; Image: Australian Navy