The Cenotaph - Martin Place, Sydney

Commemoration services at the Cenotaph.

The word Cenotaph means empty tomb, a sepulchral monument in honour of a person whose body is elsewhere. The word is derived from the Greek Kenos - empty, Taphos - a tomb, Kenotaphlion - Cenotaph. The inscription on the GPO face of the monument is therefore appropriate - "To Our Glorious Dead".

The first reference to the erection of a "Memorial Shaft" in Martin Place appeared in 1924. The State Executive of the day asked for one condition - that the Cenotaph be erected in Martin Place.

It was important that:

  • The Memorial be placed in Martin Place because it was there a number of soldiers had enlisted in World War I.

  • Martin Place was the centre of the City and all memories of war are associated with it. The Returned and Services League had looked on Martin Place during the war as the heart of the nation.

On the 8th of March, 1926 the Premier, Mr Jack Lang, indicated that the Government would provide a sum of ten thousand pounds for the commissioning of Sir Bertram Mackennal to undertake the project of the design and erection of the Cenotaph, to be completed by 25th April, 1929.

The model for the soldier was Private William Piggot Darby of the 15th Infantry Batallion and 4th Field Ambulance AIF who died in Brisbane on the 15th November, 1935 at the age of 63.

The model for the sailor was Leading Seaman John William Varco.  He enlisted 3rd June, 1913, served on HMAS "Pioneer" 1914 - 1916 in German East Africa and on HMAS "Parramatta" 1917 - 1919.  He was awarded the DSM in 1918 and died in October 1948, aged 61.

The long held opinion is that the GPO side is generally accepted as the front of the Cenotaph.

 

 

 

 

Custodian of the Cenotaph

Mr. F. Davidson - 1928

Col. J.S. Purdy DSO VD

Col. G.F. Murphy, CGM DSO VD

Mr. C. Burton MM

Mr. W.M. Miles MM

Col. F.U.J. Tinkler, OBE MC ED - September 1958

Mr F.P.H. Fewtrell - 1960

Mr. J.D. Westwood - 1965

Mr. J.H. Nielson OAM - September 1987

Mr J.T. Sheehan - November 1999

Mr C. Perrin - February 2005


"TO OUR GLORIOUS DEAD"


"LEST WE FORGET"