The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra
|Blockhouses of the Boer War|
The National Boer War Memorial constructed in Anzac Parade Canberra
How was this achieved?
Colonel John Haynes AM OAM psc; jssc;(RL)
On completing a lifelong career in the Regular Army in 1985, I was keen to continue service with ex service organizations. Over the next year or so I joined some 25 different such organizations. One of which was the Royal United Service Institute (RUSI) in which I became involved in a day-long seminar on a segment of the Boer War; the Eland River Siege.
Having told my family of this seminar, I was astonished to be advised that I had an uncle who served in the Boer War for one year 1899-1900 and that we had all his letters!
In the year 1990 I also became involved with the then peak ex service organisation, the Australian Veterans and Defense Service Council (AVADSC) which was conducting a 100th year commemoration of the Boer War. It was here that I met George Baczocha, one of our current wonderful volunteers who has been involved ever since. The AVADSC project did not extend to building a memorial in Anzac Parade, this was discussed in 1999 but not taken up due to the death of Peter Alexander the AVADSC secretary. It was about then that I decided to take on the project myself.
Early in 2000, looking for support, I became president of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps Association NSW (RAACA-NSW) which had an office in Victoria Barracks. It supported the concept but it was then a question of gaining support from the federal organization. This was achieved in a couple of years, during which I had become National President of the RAACA, but with the Federal proviso that NSW branch would take total responsibility for the project. This gave the National Boer War Memorial Project (NBWMP) an office with all facilities. I then created a Sub Branch of the RAACA-NSW to manage the project with George Baczocha in Victoria Barracks Sydney.
Although this took a long time, I had been involved in a number of other projects which set the Boer War project back. For example, as president of the RAACA I spent five years lobbying for the introduction of an Armoured Combat Badge which was finally introduced as the Army Combat Badge. The first two recipients of this badge were awarded theirs by Major General David Chalmers. Also during that time I was on the Committee lobbying to have the 14 years required to be served by regular soldiers before becoming eligible to wear a service ribbon reduced to 4 years. This was successful after three years of lobbying. Further, I had been an advocate for some 20 years and had to wind up all my cases. This I did finishing with one which I had been handling for 16 years. It involved getting just deserts for a severely injured RAACA Corporal. I managed to get him $7,000,000 in the High Court.
Now with time to spare for the NBWMP I realised that I would have to have first and foremost, a site reserved in Anzac Parade, Canberra.
In 2005 the RAACA was asked to give advice to the NSW Road and Transport Authority (RTA) on the new M7 interchange freeway with the M4, with respect to Light Horse Units which had served in that area. Luckily, Lt Col Richard Hall DSM, a member of the RAACA NSW, was able to provide all the detail in regard to the Light Horse Interchange. Because of this we were invited to the opening of the M7 by the Prime Minister, John Howard. I attended the function and managed to speak to the prime minister. I asked him why there was no Boer War Memorial in Anzac Parade, Canberra. He was surprised and promised support provided I wrote him a letter. I responded that the letter would probably sink in the bureaucracy. He assured me that would not be the case and true to his word I received a response.
In June 2006 I was summoned to the office of the Minister for Territories office in the federal parliament. I attended with George Baczocha, Ray Atkinson, a volunteer from the AVADSC, and General O'Donnell. As a result we had a site allocated to the project from 12 April 2007. At that meeting the National Capital Authority NCA) representative announced that it had suffered government imposed deep cuts in staffing and would not be able to give the NBWM project any assistance, despite the fact that it had conducted the design competitions for all previous memorials in the parliamentary triangle! The NCA also advised that we would need $2.4 million to complete the memorial.
Still being part of the RAACA-NSW, the first meeting of the BWM Project occurred in December, 2006 with George Baczocha and myself as the total staff! From then on it was a question of finding volunteers, setting up state and territories committees, fund raising and then writing a design brief as required by the NCA on what we wanted for the memorial. The Anglo Boer War Study Group based in Victoria was a great help in the early days through Michael Baden-Powell, Rod Drooglever and Nigel Webster from the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Committee.
Early in 2007 Lt-Col John Howells volunteered to develop a website for the project. This was received with thanks and the resultant product was quickly raised to a first class standard, which will continue well beyond the life of the project. Chris Dawson joined as our public relations representative and produced some excellent articles for Sydney newspapers.
One of our supporters at great expense, presented us with a scale model consisting of a slab of polished granite with a mounted trooper and a nurse in bronze thereon. It was to have an artillery piece added later but the concept was not supported.
We developed a brochure for the project featuring the Australian Coat of Arms, but in May 2008 we received a letter from the Prime Minister's Department, Canberra advising us that we could not use this brochure because the Coat of Arms was not available for public use. We just changed the brochure. At that stage we had 43,000 brochures printed for distribution to all state and territory committees (S&T). A list of all ex service organizations was given to them for follow up and use as a basis to seek support.
Brigadier Iain Spence
At the request of Chief of Defence Force, Angus Houston, the Chief of Army identified an officer of star rank to represent him on the NBWMP. This was Brig Iain Spence, Commander, 8th Brigade who provided sterling work and guidance, and was a vital link between the Army and the NBWMA.
First Design Brief
The first design brief was submitted to Canberra early in 2007 with assistance from Owen Graham an RAACA representative, but by late in the year no response had been received, so I wrote to the Minister for Territories asking him to hurry up his staff! This was a bad move and created some ill feeling in the NCA, which took time to dissipate. The eventual response to the design brief was that it was too "specific", (as I had made it clear that I wanted mounted troopers in bronze in a warlike mode) and that I would have to conduct an international competition to choose an acceptable design.
Dedication of the Site in Anzac Parade
In 2007 Col John Lenehan (New South Wales Committee) agreed to organize a dedication of the site in Anzac Parade on 31 May. The site dedication was undertaken successfully, except that the contractor to supply the chairs failed; luckily the Army came to the rescue and the contractor later made a generous donation. Senator Bob McMullen attended representing the prime minister, Kevin Rudd. He promised to write to the prime minister and offered to help after he had retired from Parliament. We later asked him to be our patron but he could not be contacted. The dedication also gave me entrée to some radio interviews, one in Australian Capital Territory and one with Alan Jones on Sydney's 2GB.
We had invited all high commissions in Canberra to the dedication ceremony, receiving only one response, it was from the United Kingdom which offered to host a reception for us. This was never taken up as the high commissioner had changed by the time we were ready to take advantage of the offer in 2017.
The Queensland Committee was very involved, being represented by the enthusiastic Colleen O'Leary who inter alia, organised an after-dedication dinner in Canberra which happened to be run by an RAACA member. Then the Australian Waler Horse Society became interested but nothing of substance resulted from the interest shown. By then we had raised just $40,000!
Thanks to Neville Pinkham and Rod Cook (RAACA-NSW) in 2008 a "plan of attack" and public relations plans were developed via means of Australian Associated Press and Media net. One of our first public relations events occurred in the form of a large gathering at the dedication of the Gideon Grieve Boer War memorial at South Head.
We had a meeting in Canberra with the "Army" newspaper, but despite promises of support it was almost impossible to get cover in "Army". Finally, in June 2017 the Army published a small article on the NBWM dedication!
I had a chance to speak to Mr Kerry Stokes at a reception to thank him for saving a Victoria Cross by buying it for $1million. He then gave it to the Australian War Memorial. He indicated he would help the NBWMA but after writing to him several times with no response except for a letter wishing us well, we gave up.
At this time government officials told us that no one would be interested.
In December, 2007, after considering all the issues connected with professional fund raising, Brian Armour came to the conclusion that he was not the man for that job, at the same time offering to serve in an administrative capacity. I undertook to look for a new Fund Raising Chairman and in January, 2008 Lt-Col Larnach-Jones agreed to take on the role provided no other committee members were desirous of it. Later, he also became Public Officer and from thereon administered all the Executive Committee and later Committee of Management meetings as required, with assistance from Major John Neenan (later S&T co-ordinator) and Brian Armour.
Formation of National Boer War Memorial Association
Until this time the project had been run by a sub-committee of the Royal Armoured Corps Association NSW Committee which was incorporated and had tax deductibility for donations. It was decided to create a separate organization to carry the project forward. Thus the National Boer War Memorial Association (NBWMA) was formed, incorporated on 11TH August, 2009 and obtained Tax Office approval for tax deductibility to apply to donations.
In June, 2009 we asked Lt Gen Ken Gillespie the Chief of Army, to provide some Australian Regular Army staff and an office, with no luck. We also asked the Department of Veteran Affairs to provide staff and an office with again no luck. However, I noticed an advertisement in a Sydney newspaper from Liberal Senator Amanda Vanstone offering $5,000 for any good cause. We applied and received the grant which purchased all our office gear; computer, printer, filing cabinets etc.
Brian Armour took over the office management and developed standard operating procedures for all S&T activities and a duty roster. By then all S&T committees throughout Australia had been established.
Our first treasurer was a Royal Australian Air Force officer, who soon handed over to Ross Brown RAAC, who was then forced to resign through illness. I remembered that Lt Col Ian Guild had been a successful fund raiser for a north shore high school so I contacted him. To my relief he accepted the role of treasurer immediately and served on until the end.
Descendants Registration Form and Database
A study was carried out on all Boer War Memorials in Australia. Later, a memorial was found to be in the middle of a farmer's wheat paddock in New South Wales! The local town took it to heart and managed to acquire a strip of land to gain public access to the memorial and have it refurbished.
As a result of this interest a descendant's registration form was produced and distributed to all S&T, followed by the setting up of a data base run by Donna Hampton using Filemaker Pro software. The objective of the database was to provide the means by which to honour Boer War veterans, by inviting their descendants to register their details and to contribute to the raising of funds by sourcing donations from the descendants. The database was later expanded in 2014 to adopt a "national" approach so that each state would benefit.
Newsletter - "Monumentally Speaking"
With the database up and running, a quarterly magazine was introduced under the guidance of Keith Smith. His volunteer "mail-out team" from the NSW Committee dealt with over 7,500 copies of each edition. The magazine kept Boer War descendants and many others informed with the progress of the proposed memorial and the national fund raising efforts needed for the memorial's construction.
International Design Competition
The design competition took two years and cost us $150,000. About this time the Chief of Defense Force became our Patron and I managed to convince Maj Gen Michael Jeffery (Governor General 2003-2008) to be our patron-in-chief. He was soon followed in that role by Dame Quentin Bryce (Governor General 2008-2014).
From advice received from the NCA we contacted a consulting firm called "Beacon Hill" (with Principal, Mr. Lincoln Hawkins) to help us with the competition. This project was launched at the Royal Military College by our future Patron, Gen David Hurley who was the Vice Chief of the Defence Force at that time. The Chair of the ACT Committee, Nigel Webster, organised the event. Bill Cross (Queensland Committee) produced a very stylish cover for our invitations for all and sundry to enter the competition. My wife embellished these with leather straps and before distribution and I dropped many into Sydney studios.
The competition attracted 150 "Expressions of Interest", 95 of which submitted a design, only 69 however, had been received by the deadline. Only two designs had one or two mounted troopers while almost all the other entries were "impressionistic". From the 69, four designs were chosen to progress, each creator receiving $10,000 to produce a cased meter square scale model of their design.
The committee to select the winning design comprised myself, Bill Woolmore (Victoria Committee), two other RAACA representatives, Iain Spence (now a Maj Gen) and Tony Larnach-Jones. The NCA provided a representative and three other experts (heritage, landscaping, and environment) to take part as part of the committee, at our expense. The NCA insisted we also hire an expert on artistry but luckily Tony Larnach-Jones was qualified to take that place. Thus I had three to support me. We convened in Army Head Quarters thanks to Iain Spence's assistance.
The design we chose was of two mounted troopers struggling up a hill. All four National Capital Authority members wanted an "impressionistic" monument. With the vote tied four each way I advised I would exert my right as chairman to vote in favour of the mounted troopers. The NCA representative then announced that he would write to the prime minister advising him against the acceptance of our chosen design. I then announced that the Competition was terminated due to the stalemate. We were to make the final decision after inspection of the design miniatures in premises provided by Maj-Gen Spence the next day but in view of the NCA attitude being unchanged I cancelled the next day's inspection.
2010 and 2011
This company had submitted a design consisting of sheets of steel with the outline of mounted troopers cut out with a blow torch. I invited this company to meet with us in Victoria Barracks. I advised that we wanted four mounted troopers in realism. Despite long discussion they refused to change from an impressionistic design so I thanked them and asked them to leave. After a couple of weeks Steve Hammond the Principal of POD rang me and asked to have another meeting in which they agreed to "do realism" under our direction and, apart from the mounted troopers for which we retained copyright, they would retain the 'copyright' over the rest of the memorial design. I had hoped that the letters from my uncle Malcolm Stewart Haynes, would be used in the design but took my eye off the ball and failed to push for this at the right time.
POD/GSA came on board. A second design brief was submitted to the National Capital Authority in March 2010. What followed was a long wait during 2010 and 2011, for the Canberra National Memorials Committee, which was chaired by the prime minister, to approve our design. We also had to get approval from the Australian Institution of Landscape Architects, the Australian Institute of Architects and the Planning Institute of Australia. With the help of Evelyn Nordoff, contracts officer, Forces Command Headquarters, I prepared the necessary memorandum of understanding for the GSA Group. The National Capital Authority had undertaken to raise a memorandum of understanding for us but never did so.
I then had to find a sculptor. My wife was keen to have a close look at a sculpture of St Mary Mc Killop on the steps of St. Mary's Cathedral Sydney. Close up it proved to be a magnificent depiction of the Saint and I found the signature of Louis Laumen on St. Mary's skirt. I immediately rang him in his Melbourne studio to offer him the task. He was absolutely delighted and enthusiastic, seeing it as the most important work of his life. I advised the Committee next day that I had found a sculptor, they insisted we should seek three tenders but I vetoed the thought! Evelyn Nordoff again helped me produce the contract with Louis Laumen and TLJ helped with the payment schedule.
The sculptor would not agree to start mounted trooper No. 1 until we had money in our bank to pay him. I offered to lend the Association $500,000 but the Committee of Management refused.
I found that Lt Col John Moore OAM RFD ED, who was the principal of the Reserve Forces Day Council, had been an Armoured Corps Officer in his early career so I made him an honorary member of the RAACA and then started to press him to use the Boer War Memorial as a theme for his annual Australia-wide parades. He agreed to use the Memorial as his theme for the Reserve Forces Day Council and due to his enthusiasm and his government ministry network of contacts, we received a grant of $200,000.
The sculptor was then able to start on mounted trooper No. 1! He finished this by April 2014, giving us something to "Sell". About then we published our Book; "Australians in the Boer War" which sold well (including at the Australian War Memorial) thanks to the efforts of Bill Woolmore of the Victoria committee. However, at this time, when asked, the Australian War Memorial declined to display the completed Mounted Trooper in its foyer.
We set up the National Committee of Management with flow-on subcommittees:
• Construction Committee;
• Mounted trooper accoutrement Committee;
• Finance Committee;
• Fund Committee; and
• Dedication Committee
We were lucky to have the auditor of the Royal Automobile Club of Australia, Alan Williams, agree to become our auditor. Further, Lt Col Steve Thompson, a legal Corps reservist, agreed to assist with all the set up legalities from his position with legal firm, Sparke Helmore.
On 1 March 2012 as our national patron and then Chief of Defence Force unveiled the approved design in the presence of myself and other members of the committee, Nigel Webster ACT committee and the sculptor Louis Laumen, in the foyer of Army Headquarters
About this time Colonel Bob Guest offered to assist. He became a valuable advisor on all aspects of the project by helping us to stay focused on the principles. Also Bob was a model maker and he gave final touches to the scale model of the memorial which we had made at the initial cost of $5,000. This stayed on display in our conference room apart from a period when Iain Spence organised for it to be displayed in the foyer of the Defence building in Canberra. Its transport was effected by myself and a grandson of Victoria Cross winner Neville Howse.
Maj John Neenan became my personal helper. He proved to be a superb worker, looking after a mass of detail for me and running the meetings including annual general meetings. He was also a guru of English writing and tidied up all my papers before dispatch. His death in 2017 was a tragedy for me as we had become close mates.
Later Ms Lani Davis offered to assist and became our most welcome minute secretary for all the Committees, putting her shorthand to good use.
Deductible Gift Recipient Status (DGR)
On 23 July, 2013 the NBWMA was granted deductible gift recipient status (tax deductability) to 31 December, 2014. This enabled us to approach major donors in our own right.
Efforts at gaining support and Financial Backing:
A very generous donation was received from His Royal Highness Prince Charles and we continued fundraising, PR etc as follows;
• We were contacted by a member of the Royal Australian Armourd Corps Association who was once the personal driver for Lindsay Fox. He offered to contact Mr. Fox on our behalf but without result;
• I visited the Commander of the 2nd Division, but despite a promise to 'ginger up' Units to donate, there was no result;
• We appealed to the Chief of Army to encourage all Units to donate but without result not even from the Unit whose members were the first soldiers from Australia to fight in South Africa, the 1/15 RNSWL which was my original unit of enlistment in 1948;
• Senator Michael Ronaldson, the Shadow Minister for Veteran Affairs was approached. He advised there would be no money from the Department of Veteran Affairs until we had raised a considerable amount ourselves. Alan Griffin was the Labor Minister at that time who refused to assist despite many face-to-face appeals from me;
• Maj Gen (Ret'd) "Digger" James wrote to his old mate Tony Abbott asking for financial assistance but there was no result;
• We approached Nationals MP Bruce Scott, who had been active in the 1999 100th Anniversary Project, for assistance, but all he did was ask for a photo of himself taken in year 1999 without an offer of help for us.
• The Returned and Service League agreed that the NBWMA should lead the Sydney Anzac March thanks to efforts by David Deasey NSW committee;
• Efforts were made to have the Royal Australian Artillery involved but despite their attendance at a couple of meetings, this stopped and no other support was forthcoming; and
• About this time I managed to get the local Royal Australian Engineer unit 19 Chief Engineer's Works to do the survey work on the memorial site for no cost.
We then returned to the difficulties of raising money for which there were many suggestions, some were followed up. For example, a professional fund raising company called Donorcentricity & SPR Australia was contacted and following several meetings agreed to accept the challenge of raising the $4million needed. However they wanted a "deposit" of $450,000 to start. The idea was put on hold pending our raising the required deposit.
Further efforts were:
• Iain Spence contacted all one star officers in the Army seeking support from all units;
• The Randwick Racecourse executive was asked to conduct a Boer War Memorial race meeting. We had a conference with several young executives but had to give up when told we would need to guarantee a profit for the Racecourse of $5,000 per race;
• We asked the Mint and the Post office to issue special Boer War coins and stamps without success. The response was that issues had to be related to anniversaries of 50 or 100 years;
• Crowd funding etc. was considered but not followed up;
• We approached Rotary International with no result;
• We managed to get an article published in the "Spectator" a United Kingdom magazine;
• We considered staging an Australia-wide trek of Boer War era wagons with mounted trooper replicas on board, but could not get enough support;
• Letters to politicians and the likes of former prime minister John Howard, assisted by Warrant Officer Mike Bienke, National Committee, had no effect;
• Advertising through ex-service newsletters such as the Defence Force Welfare Association, Vietnam Veterans, Armour, Ironsides, R&SL publications and newspapers occurred whenever Chris Dawson was able to have an article inserted;
• Appeals to state governments were unsuccessful except for Western Australia which donated $30,000 and the ACT which donated $2,000.
• We asked David Jones for help with no result;
• An appeal to the Australian War Memorial promised us storage for sculptures and book sales.
• We organised a group of first generation descendants to meet politicians in the National Parliament but no promises resulted. Indeed the politicians "snowed" their appeals by bringing in Dr Brendon Nelson to address them on the role of the Australian War Memorial. This activity was greatly assisted by a member of the ACT committee, Ian Ball, who had an extensive knowledge of the "workings" of the Parliament;
• Maj John Handley examined the possibility of raising funds for metal for the sculptures by collecting scrap copper – ("Copper to Bronze") - with the help of the National Electrical and Communications Association. John and I met with the executive team which was most enthusiastic. Although many presentations were made throughout New South Wales some with the help of David Deasey (NSW Committee) the project did not live up to its expected level of support;
• Miles Farmer (Queensland Committee) managed to speak to Senator Clive Palmer who offered to build the statues out of granite. I had to refuse the offer as I wanted bronze and would not accept anything made in China;
• Bill Woolmore (Victoria committee) worked hard to have the design changed by having the copper walls changed to black granite from Queanbeyan, but in the end we decided to stay with the original design because of difficulties in getting the National Capital Authority and Government to accept any change;
• We met with the Board of R. M. Williams without success;
• We asked the Museum of Sydney to present a display of Boer War material but without luck;
• We approached Senator S. McDonald, the cousin of our Chris Dawson, for assistance without luck;
• We approached the Australian Defence Association without success;
• At the instigation of Maj Gen "Digger" James I was invited to visit the Pratt Foundation in Queensland but despite some encouraging remarks by the Principal, Sam Lipski, no support was forthcoming except for $2,000;
• At that time I also visited South Australia to help increase their Committee and continued on to Queensland to provide leadership; and
• In Sept 2010 the Government had allocated $83M to the Anzac Centenary project. We asked for funding from that Fund but were refused. We were told that the Boer War was outside the terms of the Anzac Centenary, only WW1 and those wars that followed were included. ACM Sir Allan "Angus" Houston, on more than one occasion told me, "you're timing is wrong".
In 2014 we continued with our efforts as follows:
• We set up a Workplace Giving Program with General Hurley's help but it didn't achieve much;
• We wrote to many people such as Janet Holmes à Court, Bob Mc Mullen, Kerry Stoke, John Howard, Dick Smith, Mulwala & District Services Club (Vic), RSLs, AVCAT Chairman, Major General Bill Crews OA, Jon Stanhope AO, former Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory, Simon Crean, Tony Abbott, Bill Shorten, Peter Cosgrove (when he was working at Qantas), Lieutenant General David Morrison AO, Julia Gillard, and many others, without success;
• We wrote to NSW Clubs which resulted a couple of good donations;
• We asked Brigadier Wayne Budd the Head of Corps, Royal Australian Engineers to do much of the site work but the "system" defeated us.;
• We set up a meeting with the New South Wales R&SL President Rod White with a view to him contacting all Sub Branches to have them donate, but it did not progress; and
• We sent many letters to a range of big businesses to help us develop a strategy for raising the funds.
• Meanwhile the flow of donations from fundraising increased due to our being able to show the progress with the first mounted trooper, and by work in state and territories committees such as;
Events at the Victoria Barracks Museum run by Major Bernadette Mottram, Jilly Warren and Mrs Vashti Farrer:
• Events at the Victoria Barracks Officers' Mess;
• Gatherings at other venues organised by most of the S&T committees such as a return to the time in Parramatta Park bu NSW committee;
• Marketing of special Boer War stamps, envelopes etc; and
• Marketing of a range of memorabilia such as the most popular tie designed by Paul Lenehan, (NSW Committee), medallions and the Boer War book reprint organised by Bill Woolmore
Minister Simon Crean had approved the "Location" of the memorial on 6 June 2010 and approved the "character" of the Memorial on 12 Dec 2011. There were long delays with NCA over the deadline for completion as we kept on passing the deadlines set. Just then the Government initiated a review of all memorials etc in the parliamentary triangle called the "Etched in Stone Review". Two aspects were of concern to us in the Review recommendations which went to Parliament for decision. One was that there were to be no further extensions of deadlines for completion and secondly that all memorials would have to set aside 10% of the cost of the memorial for future maintenance. That would have cost us about $400,000 which we had no hope of finding at that time. Fortunately the Review has still not been considered by Government and by then, as we had become established to complete and the NCA stopped worrying us about a deadline.
Mr Michael Crouch AC
In 2014, at a cocktail party at Victoria Barracks Mess which was organised by the NSW Committee, TLJ was advised by The Hon Tim Fischer AC to invite a mate of his, Mr. Michael Crouch AC, whose father served in the Boer War. Mr. Crouch was a philanthropist and former Executive Chairman of Zip Industries, who readily agreed to give us his support, later becoming the Chair of our Funding Committee with Tim Fischer as Patron.
By July 2015 Mr Crouch had organised a number of pledges, in addition to his own $500,000 pledge. He initiated a function at the State Library at which I suggested that the State Governor should be invited but was informed he would not attend a fund raising meeting. However as he had been our National Patron when Chief of Defence Force General Hurley I insisted and he did attend. In his speech he complained openly of the lack of government support for the memorial and promised to do what he could to elicit a government response. Mr. Crouch hosted a dinner at the Australian Club after this event and later, arranged a fund raising lunch at the Union Club with Guest Speaker, NSW Chairman David Deasey. Mr. Crouch also organised a Reception in conjunction with the Queensland Art Gallery to raise funds, which I attended along with members of the Queensland Committee.
Other wonderful supporters were for example, Mr. Len Ainsworth, Chairman of Ainsworth Game Technology, who pledged $500,000 and well-known radio broadcaster, Alan Jones who donated $90,000. Special "Thank You" certificates were printed and sent to each donor giving $500 or more. These were signed by Tim Fischer and Michael Crouch except for one which I set for Michael which was signed by Tim and our patron, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin.
Around June 2014 Michael Crouch sent letters to former prime ministers.
In September 2015 the Federal Government provided $1.45million towards the project as a direct result of the lobbying by General Hurley and Michael Crouch. We were then in a position to keep the sculptor working full-time on our project. All thought of pursuing other fund raising ventures was abandoned. About then Les Perritt died; a great loss of an enthusiastic volunteer who, inter alia, printed small diaries etc with Boer War Memorial embossing. Also, I was the recipient of the odd bottle of scotch from Les.
The Chief of Defence Force Mark Binskin AC became our National Patron. He agreed to approve the continuation of Brigadier Iain Spence as his representative on our National Committee of Management.
On December 2016 the Department of Veteran Affairs approved a grant of $11,321 to cover the cost of the Dedication Ceremony. At about this time we invited His Royal Highness Prince Charles to dedicate the Memorial but be was not available.
Glascott Landscape and Civil
In September 2016 GSA, our architect, presented a tender submission from contractors Glascott for the landscaping and site-works of the project. This included demolition and site preparation, walls and fixtures, garden beds and trees, and lighting and electrical. This was accepted.
About this time we were lucky to have the services of Major Steve Bain, a serving Reservist, qualified engineer and civilian qualified project manager, at no cost to us. He became our project manager and his continuity was assured by Iain Spence. Steve Bain took up a schedule of regular visits to the sculptor, Louis Laumen, the Fundere Fine Art Foundry, and the "Artlandish" walls construction (Jane Cavanough Art & Design). At one stage the workers at the walls advised they had had three hours sleep in two nights due to Steve Bain's pressure, and construction demands. His role was of major importance and ensured that everything would be ready on time. Had we hired a civilian qualified Project Manager it would have cost about $100,000 per annum. I visited the Foundry workshop on numerous occasions to keep track and encourage the Principal, Mr Tomas Misura, a pleasant "can do engineer", who made things happen during some dark days, to meet the deadline.
Early in 2016 the NBWMA Committee of Management wanted to put off the dedication date to May 2018 but I insisted it could be done by 2017. In August, 2016 we set up a Dedication Sub-Committee chaired by Brian Armour whose role was subsequently taken over by Lieutenant Colonel Ron McElwaine, NBWMA Vice President and Chairman of the BWMA Queensland Committee.
The sculptor was under pressure to finish in time to allow the foundry to have four mounted troopers in Canberra for the dedication date which I had imposed. The sculptor rang me one morning being quite concerned that he had finished mounted trooper No. 3 only to find he had the trooper looking in the wrong direction, down Anzac Parade instead of up. There was pressure from the Committee to direct him to fix by redoing the head and neck but that would have cost a couple of weeks which we could not afford without changing the dedication date, so I directed that his mounted trooper No. 3 should be used as mounted trooper No. 4. As can be seen at the Memorial, that suggestion turned out well.
At about this time we were lucky to have Mr Murray Pope on the Fund Committee, as he volunteered to look after all the public relations related to the dedication. Having a lifetime of experience in that field he brought a high level of professionalism to the cause. The evidence is still there to see on this website.
Invitations to the Dedication Ceremony went out in February, 2017 with a follow-up in March, 2017. Tony Larnach-Jones and John Neenan agreed to look after all booking and seating arrangements - a laborious task. When requests for seating reached a figure of 1,100, in the event the figure reached 1,200, it was then we decided to 'close the books' via the web.
Late in February 2017 the Governor General agreed to dedicate the site with Michael Crouch also agreeing to "gift" the Memorial to the people of Australia.
By then all the pledges were in and we had reached our target for funding. We then suspended all other fundraising. However, to be on the safe side I applied for further contingency funding from Defence and we were granted another $500,000. In the end, with all accounts paid, we were able to return $411,000 of this amount.
As the 31 May approached there were concerns about the contractors being able to meet the timings. However I was never worried with Major Steve Bain as our project manager.
The Committee of Management decided not to have any social activities following the Dedication Ceremony however a dinner was organised by the Melbourne Committee and held at the Mercure Hotel, Canberra on the Wednesday evening at 7 pm.
The Dedication of the Memorial - 31 May 2017
The dedication of the Memorial occurred on 31 May 2017 as planned. I welcomed the guests, the Governor General dedicated the Memorial, Michael Crouch gifted the Memorial to the people of Australia (soon after he was awarded the AC) and Major General Iain Spence served as Master of Ceremonies. The Ceremony was immaculate with no hitches, thanks to the Dedication Committee led by Lieutenant Colonel Ron McElwaine, the Contractor, Glascott and the support of the Australian Defence Force Ceremonial Cell. After the Dedication I wrote a personal letter to each one of the 100 or more volunteers who had been involved in the Project, except for a few of the key people which I sent at the very end.
The one hidden hitch was the lighting. The day before the dedication I witnessed the lighting contractors trying to set up the lights. It was obvious to me that the lighting would be inadequate. I spoke to Rob Tindal at the National Capital Authority to alert him to the situation and asked our project manager to advise the National Capital Authority and the contractor that completely new lighting would be required. I thought that the $500,000 from Defence would need to be used for this but in the event we still had much of the needed funds of $270,000. The new lighting is brilliant with lights under each horse and the general site, and a controlled stepped display set up. All this work was done during 2018
I had 7,000 brochures printed before the Defence printing support was terminated, these, less some for the office, were sent to all state and territories committees for future use in commemoration.
I became ill in late 2017 and did not "surface" until June 2018. Thankfully the secretary, Tony Larnach-Jones took over with the help of the treasurer, Ian Guild and our guidance guru, Bob Guest. With the continued help of our project manager, Steve Bain, they oversaw the new lighting and the installation of three plaques as requested by the National Capital Authority which were a plaque recording the Governor General's dedication, a plaque for details of the executive committee, and a plaque which tells the story of the Boer War and the artists involved in the construction.
Because of the change in lighting and the other issues the closing down process was drawn out until August 2018.
I missed a number of meetings including the last meeting in 14 August 2018 when the NBWMA ceased to exist. The balance of the Defence grant, $411,000, was returned to Defence and $9,982 was sent to the Royal Australian Armoured Corps Association NSW welfare fund. The latter was tasked with securing records of the project until the year 2025. As I'm still involved in that association I've accepted with the help of Lani Davis, the task of reviewing and segregating all the NBWMA records in the office which, by law, must be retained.
National Capital Authority accepted from the foundry for safe keeping, in case of vandalism or accidental damage, the molds of the four mounted troopers. The National Capital Authority also accepted responsibility for the future of the Memorial in July 2018.
We acknowledge the support provided by Army and Defence for the Royal Australian Armoured Corps Association office in Victoria Barracks Sydney, access to the Defence Restricted Network, and free printing and postage for head office and some state and territories.
No funds were given to State & Territory committees to support future commemorative activities. Some of those committees will no doubt continue to hold self-funded activities, some with the help of local government grants.
I am amazed at the way we survived. Every time we needed someone to help in a specific area a volunteer became available immediately, just when needed. Congratulations have poured into the office extolling the magnificence of the memorial and our achievement. Every volunteer member who made a contribution over the years should feel immensely proud of the result. A number of volunteers, including myself, have received or will receive an Australian Award in recognition of their effort.
Colonel John Haynes AM OAM psc jssc (RL)
18 July 2019