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Remembrance

Devonport War Memorial

The first attempt to raise a memorial to those Devonport residents killed in World War I was unsuccessful. A committee of local residents led by the Mayor had considered all proposals and decided that a statue was the appropriate edifice. However fundraising proved difficult, and after only £200 of the estimated £1000 had been raised, the monay was given to Devonport School for a memorial to their pupils, which was erected in May 1921.

dev_war_memHowever the committee persisted with their plans for a community monument and in August 1921 it invited people to submit designs for a memorial in stone, not to exceed £1500 in cost. A design by the Ponsonby sculptor F. G. Lynch was accepted at a cost of £570. His proposal represented a New Zealand soldier in trench kit looking over his right shoulder as he left the trenches. The sculpture is often called the 'untidy soldier' because of its realistic portrayal of an infantryman coming off duty. It is understood that the design was sketched from a photograph of Mr Lynch's brother at Gallipoli.

The statue was cast in bronze by A. B. Burton of London at their Thames Ditton foundry at a cost of £414, after a further appeal for donations from Devonport residents had proved more successful than the first effort. It was brought to Auckland by the NZ Shipping Company free of charge in April 1923.

A local company, McNab and Mason, built the stone base which was inscribed with the names of the soldiers who had actually sailed from Devonport. The contract for the establishment of the base was let in October 1923, and the completed statue was unveiled on 13 April 1924, by the then Governor-General, Lord Jellicoe, with appropriate ceremony. Newspaper reports of the event are here.

Following the Second World War, plaques were added to the east and west elevations of the memorial, commemorating the many local men who had died in the conflict. An additional plaque was added to the north side of the memorial in 1999, commemorating the men who left New Zealand to fight in the South African (Anglo-Boer or Second Boer) War. This was installed by the RSA as a way of marking the beginning of New Zealand's involvement in overseas conflicts. A later RSA plaque was added to include the conflicts in Korea, Malaya, Borneo and South Vietnam.

The memorial was originally surrounded by flower gardens but these have been removed in favour of an open space with permanent seating at the rear.