Friday, 8 April 2016

More war memorial bridges

Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised that there were so few war memorial bridges. I knew that there was a lot of discussion after World War One as to the form that war memorials should take: whether they should be something to look at (like a statue), or something to use (like... a bridge).

This page on the NZ history site has some fascinating info about the sorts of memorials that were built in New Zealand after World War One. They included obelisks (30% of all memorials), soldier statues (8%), sculptures, gates, arches and stained glass windows.

Soldiers Memorial Statue, Devonport, Auckland. 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 35-R209'

Memorials of practical use included halls, libraries and clocks, but the comment is made that "unlike Australia and Britain, New Zealand did not use memorials as an opportunity to provide for social amenities."

The 1914-1918 online encyclopedia of the First World War expands on this, in talking about the many memorials being built all over the country between the wars, especially in the 1920s:

"Although now these memorials are seen as a part of the landscape, there was widespread and sometimes acrimonious debate over the form the official memorials should take. One faction believed war memorials should be purely ornamental, sites of remembrance that wouldn't be effaced by an alternative use. The other faction believed money should be used to improve the lives of those whom the war affected, and war memorials should be functional, such as hospitals or town halls."

In other words, some people thought war memorials should simply be for looking at and remembering. Other people thought it was all right to have them serve a useful purpose as well.

Levin and Districts war Memorial Hall.

Levin and Districts War Memorial Hall: Kete Horowhenua

I would have liked to find a bridge in France or Belgium, but the language barrier was going to be tricky. I couldn't find any in England (but if there are any that I've missed, please let me know).
I came across several in the United States (which entered the war in 1917) but they were mostly very big, and I wanted something small.

Then I tried Australia, and that's when I came across the bridge at Brooweena.

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