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The Dubbo War Memorial is a large, freestone tower, positioned atop a trachyte base. Three sides of the tower feature decoration and inscriptions. High up on the tower's front face is a stone laurel wreath. Closer to ground level is a dedication to those who fell in the First World War. The second side is dedicated to the Second World War and the third is for Korea, Malaysia, Borneo and Vietnam.
The memorial's base features three detailed, bronze relief panels, which depict Australian mounted infantry (Light Horse) and artillery units in action during the First World War. There are also three circular bronze sculptures shaped like waratahs, the official floral emblem of NSW.
The memorial was constructed between 1924–1925. It was designed by Sydney architects H. Crone and R.W. Hinton, and constructed by Robert Wall & Sons, also of Sydney. Crone and Hinton's design was chosen from 55 entries in a design competition that was held in February 1924 (Evening News, 4 February 1924). Their entry was described in The Labor Daily (15 March 1924) as:
a cenotaph in dressed freestone with a fine axed trachyte base with bronzed plates, illustrating France, Gallipoli and Egypt.
The Daily's article also quoted Sir Charles Rosenthal, one of the adjudicators of the competition. He said:
the aim of the memorial was not to express satisfaction at victory, but to commemorate the service and sacrifice which had been the main characteristics of the people throughout the war.
The unveiling and dedication ceremony took place on Anzac Day, 25 April 1925. The momentous occasion was reported on detail in The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate on 28 April. The unveiling was conducted by Dubbo's most distinguished military son, Brigadier General James Heane, DSO, CMG, CB. He was accompanied by Bishop Long, Anglican Bishop of Bathurst, who performed the dedication. The newspaper enthusiastically reported:
It is estimated that upwards of 4000 people gathered last Saturday morning round the monument that the people of Dubbo and district have erected to the memory of their fallen soldiers. The ceremony from beginning to end was most impressive, and the impassioned and beautiful address delivered by Bishop Long thrilled, amazed and deeply touched every man, woman and child who was present. It was a speech the like of which few who were there have heard or will be likely to hear again.
Unlike most war memorials, the Dubbo tower is not inscribed with an honour roll of those who served or made the supreme sacrifice. Instead, these names are recorded in Books of Remembrance, which are locked in a purpose-built, waterproof recess, positioned behind one of the waratah sculptures. The books measure 25 x 20cm and are bound in vellum, with leaves of parchment. Recorded in the books is on alphabetical listing of Dubbo's fallen. Spaces have been left to add the names of those who have been missed.
The recess is the responsibility of the Mayor, who removes the books during the Anzac Day service. This tradition began at the unveiling ceremony, when Major-General Cox read the names from the book and locked them in the recess. He then presented the key to Mayor E. H. Burkitt in his role as "chief citizen of Dubbo and custodian of [the] monument". Mayor Burkitt declared he "will see that on every Anzac Day the recess is unlocked, the book removed, the names of the dead read out, and the book replaced" (The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate, 28 April 1925).
The memorial is located in Dubbo's well-maintained Victoria Park, which traces its history back to the late 1800s. It is positioned on the Darling Street side of the park, near the intersection with Church Street. In front of the memorial are a set of ornamental metal gates, bearing the dates 1914 and 1918, underneath two Rising Sun badges. The park contains several other war memorials, including Dubbo Memorial Drive, Rose Garden and Honour Rolls, the Dubbo Lone Pine and the Dubbo Vietnam War and Pte William W. Donnelly Memorial.
In memory of those who gave
their lives in the Great War
So they passed over
and all the trumpets sounded
on the other side
Having each one given his body
to the Commonwealth,
they all receive instead thereof
a most remarkable sepulchre,
wherein their glory is laid up
to be remembered evermore:
for to famous men
all the earth is a sepulchre.
Their virtues shall be testified
not only on the inscription on the stone at home,
but in the unwritten record of the mind
in all lands wheresoever;
which far beyond any monument,
will remain with all men