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Missing Victoria Cross restored

Highest award for valour crowns one of Australia’s most unusual WWI memorials

Victoria Cross restored to Glebe War Memorial

A Victoria Cross, long missing from the Glebe War Memorial in Foley Park, has been reinstalled following meticulous restoration as part of the Anzac centenary.

When the tribute to local soldiers killed during the Great War was completed in in 1922, a bronze Victoria Cross sat on top, proudly clasped to a marble orb.

But the cross, which symbolises the highest military decoration for valour “in the face of the enemy” for Australian servicemen and women, mysteriously disappeared decades ago.

To restore its original glory, the City of Sydney engaged heritage conservators to reproduce the missing piece for Anzac centenary year commemorations.

Specialist metal-artists reproduced the Victoria Cross by taking a mould from one that sits atop the Mascot War Memorial. It was designed by the same architect, William Martin, who was also a local Alderman and anti-conscription campaigner in the 1920s.

Craftsmen from Crawford’s Casting, which made both bronze Diggers on the Anzac Bridge, used a cherry picker to reach the orb 7 metres above Mascot Memorial Park to prepare a silicon rubber mould in March.

They then cast the new cross and clasp over 4 weeks in their Sydney foundry in a process that saw a compound of copper, silicon and manganese heated to a temperature of 1,240 degrees Celsius for pouring.

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One of Australia’s most unusual memorials

A bronze nurse sculpture is the face of the mausoleum-style Egyptian temple that overlooks the names of 174 Glebe residents who perished from the 792 who enlisted in World War I.

In 2016, replacement busts of an Australian soldier and sailor were hand carved from Italian Carrara marble as part of the City's restoration work to the memorial.

Local historian Max Solling said the current works would ensure it was in pristine condition for the Anzac centenary.

“It’s fantastic – they are doing an outstanding restoration job,” he said.

Local historian Max Solling at the restored Glebe War Memorial.
Local historian Max Solling at the restored Glebe War Memorial.

Restoring respect

For the Anzac centenary, work is underway across the City of Sydney to return numerous war memorials to their former condition and ensure they are conserved for future generations.

The condition of each memorial will be assessed before surfaces are cleaned and any corrosion is treated.

Stone plinths and plaques will be cleaned and memorials treated with 2 coats of protective wax to ensure their longevity.

The following war memorials will be preserved with the help of conservation consultants enlisted by the City:

  • Glebe War Memorial, Foley Park
  • First World War Memorial to Pyrmont-Ultimo Servicemen, Pyrmont
  • Oddfellows Memorial, Hyde Park
  • German SMS Emden gun in Hyde Park, sunk by HMAS Sydney
  • WWI Soldiers Memorial, Woolloomooloo
  • World War I Memorial, Redfern Park
  • The Artillery Gun, Redfern Park
  • Newtown War Memorial, King Street
  • Paddington War Memorial, Oxford Street
  • The Cenotaph, Martin Place
  • Archibald Memorial Fountain, Hyde Park

An Australian WW1 nurse is the face of the Glebe War Memorial.
An Australian WW1 nurse is the face of the Glebe War Memorial.

Published 2 July 2014, updated 19 October 2023