A Seaside Community Remembers

Semaphore Memorial

At the end of the First World War, the town of Semaphore built a memorial to remember the service and sacrifice of more than 850 local residents who volunteered.

The winged, marble figure on top of the memorial is known to locals as the ‘Semaphore Angel’ and was chosen as an emblem of peace. 

The memorial also features a clock with four faces – one on each side of the memorial. It was decided there would be no numbers on the clock faces so it would be clearly visible from long distances, including down the main street, Semaphore Road. The internal mechanisms of the clock were built by Sydney’s Proud Ltd. 

The Semaphore War Memorial is made of granite and was built to replace the older Memorial Arch, a wood and iron structure that included a Roll of Honour commemorating residents from the area that volunteered for the First World War. The photo of the Memorial Arch below was taken from the jetty facing towards land in 1917.

Memorial arch, Semaphore Jetty, 1920, Courtesy of State Library South Australia [PRG 1642/26/70]

The Semaphore War Memorial has no Roll of Honour attached to it, and instead commemorates all those who have served. The original plaque reads “In Memory Of All Who Fell In The Great War, 1914-1919”. In later years, a plaque was added to commemorate other conflicts including the Second World War.

The memorial was designed by an Adelaide resident, J. E. Topham. The Semaphore Memorial Committee chose his design from the 25 submitted, and also organised construction of the memorial. The community project was funded by donations, raised at the fair which operated on the grounds next to the memorial and through events held by the committee.

A large crowd gathered at the unveiling of the Semaphore War Memorial on 24 May 1925. Many returned soldiers and the family members of local residents who were killed in the First World War attended. The memorial still draws large crowds for the dawn service on Anzac Day, with wreaths laid at the base of the large granite steps to remember those who fell.

The Semaphore War Memorial is located on The Esplanade at Semaphore, a coastal suburb of Adelaide, located 14 kilometres to the west of the city centre.

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