In Derby, the figures were placed on a stone pedestal against a backdrop of a Celtic cross; this popular form of war memorial was a combination of a symbolic Christian victory, sacrifice and eternal hope. The mourning wife/mother and the orphaned baby could be seen as a continuation of the Victorian tradition of public statues.
But too much public grief crippled communities. 8.5 million people died in WW1, boys in late adolescence and early 20s. They had to be remembered and honoured, but in a way that allowed some hope for the future.
The Cenotaph 1919 in Whitehall was designed by Edwin Lutyens, first in plaster then in Portland stone. This very early Deco design was left undecorated, save for a carved wreath on each end and Rudyard Kipling’s words The Glorious Dead. Perhaps the clue is in the name Cenotaph, meaning empty tomb. We don't even know where the dead boys lie, nor do we know their names. This memorial was honouring sacrifice and heroism in the abstract, unemotionally and without dwelling on personal tragedy.
Sydney’s Anzac War Memorial was designed in a monumental and highly sculptured design which broke away from C19th traditions. Located centrally in Hyde Park South, the granite memorial was made possible after a competition and fund raising program initiated in 1919. It was built in 1929-30. I would recommend examining the Deco sculptures in Sydney City and Suburbs blog.
Even Melbourne's neo-classical Shrine of Remembrance, the city’s most important war memorial building, has very distinctive Art Deco elements. It took from 1928-1934 to complete.
Thank you to the people who alerted me to three more Art Deco war memorials, undoubtedly based on Lutyens' cenotaph. This one monument clearly influenced the design of many other war memorials in Britain and in all the Commonwealth countries. Young men from Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Canada etc rushed to aid the Mother Country, particularly in the worst years of the war - 1914 and 1915. My own grandfather was fortunate. He gave a kidney and three years of his life to the Great War but survived, I assume because he was an official translator (Russian, Polish, Yiddish, German, Hebrew and later French, English), not a foot soldier.
To commemorate the tragic losses of the Great War, the City of Fremantle in Western Australia erected the Fallen Sailors & Soldiers Memorial in 1928. The main memorial , 14m in height, was created from Donnybrook stone. The Calgary Cenotaph in Memorial Park was erected in 1928 to honour the fallen of Calgary, Alberta. The National War Memorial in Wellington was originally built to commem-orate all New Zealanders who gave their lives in the South African War and WW1. Wellington's Art Deco Carillon tower opened on Anzac Day 1932.
David Thompson at Art Deco Buildings has found an amazing Cenotaph, Durban, completed in 1926. The shape is very similar to the Wellington Carillon, but the fallen soldier and the angels are brightly coloured.
In the years after the Great War ended, it must have become clear that war consisted of bad decisions, needless slaughter, despair and little achievement. Within a decade, cities wanted to represent their response to war and their sacrifice, but with a deliberate aim to avoid glorifying war. Perhaps the Deco war memorials achieved that balance, through austere architecture, minimalist decoration and intellectual, non emotional appeal.
For an image of the Cenotaph in London, actually surrounded by Italianate buildings in the centre of town, see Emm in London's blog.
Jerusalem was liberated from the Turks in late 1917 when General Allenby formally entered the city, with French and Italian leaders. Jerusalem War Cemetery started with 270 British Commonwealth burials, later increased to 2,514 Commonwealth burials. Within the cemetery see the Jerusalem Memorial, commemorating 3,300 Commonwealth servicemen who died in operations in Egypt or Palestine and who have no known grave. The memorial, opened in 1927 by Lord Allenby, was designed in a very Deco style by Sir John Burnet, with sculpture by Gilbert Bayes.
Jerusalem War Cemetery and Memorial, 1927
To this day, ANZAC Day commemorations are held every year at the Jerusalem Memorial where Australian and New Zealand families can remember their grandfathers and Israelis can thank the British Commonwealth troops.