Museum of Brisbane

Sunday Stories | The Women’s War Memorial

Following the First World War, the Women’s War Memorial committee selected Daphne Mayo to create a memorial that recognised and paid tribute to the great loss of life still being felt at the time. Daphne has long been recognised as one of the leading artists of the 20th century, a renowned sculptor involved in creating some of Brisbane’s grandest monuments.

The Brisbane Women’s Club launched a campaign in 1929 to raise the £1000 needed to create a bronze cast panel and cascading fountain memorial in Anzac Square. By November 1930, the committee amended the original design plan as they had only been able to muster half the funds. It was settled that Daphne would construct a carved stone panel and drinking bubbler, first creating multiple preliminary clay models and stone carvings of the relief panel to guide her process.

Assisted by three stone masons, Daphne began carving the large stones framing Anzac Square in September 1931. After a great deal of hard work, The Women’s War Memorial was unveiled to the public on 24 March 1932. The memorial depicts a large convoy of soldiers from different military branches, all of whom share the same face. Daphne acknowledges the women who served with a nurse carved toward the back of the procession, almost completely hidden by the men around her.

The memorial still stands today, where visitors to a newly refurbished Anzac Square can admire Daphne’s work and pay their respect to those who lost their lives.

Image 1: Queensland Women’s War Memorial panel and fountain, Anzac Square, Brisbane, c1932, from The Telegraph. Image courtesy University of Queensland.