July 22, 2021

Taradale War Memorial Clock


Michael Fowler

To commemorate the fallen soldiers from World War I, most communities around New Zealand constructed a war memorial.

Taradale, in 1920, was a borough council, and it had plans for its own war memorial.

By December 1920, £700 (2020: $61,500) had been raised towards a soldiers' memorial.

At a meeting to discuss the progress, Mr W G Jarvis said they needed more funds to erect a memoriam, and that people who had already subscribed were becoming impatient.

To advance the fundraising, a committee was formed.

The memorial would take the form of a concrete clock tower designed by Jack Ellis, and on land purchased in 1916 on the corner of Avondale and Gloucester St, Taradale.

It was built by A B Davis, and his senior apprentice, Frank Carter (1907‒2006).

Frank recalled his memories of building the clock tower.

His first job was to dig holes for the poles for the scaffolding which would surround the moment.

While he was digging, a man called Shorty Skeeter observed him digging and said "Son, you haven't dug many holes in your life, have you?" Frank was then shown how to dig a square hole, and this was the way he would dig holes for the rest of his life.

One of the scaffold poles was found to be defective, and the men were lucky that it did not collapse when concrete was transported up the scaffold.

Lord Jellicoe, Governor-General of New Zealand, unveiled the Taradale War Memorial on Sunday, December 16, 1923.

The 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake did not damage the memorial clock, but it did resemble the world-famous leaning tower of Pisa. It had tilted due to the foundations subsiding on one side.

Long poles were placed against one side of the memorial to stop it from falling over while the other side was excavated. The memorial was then jacked up and concrete was poured to stabilise it before it was lowered back onto its concrete foundation.

The memorial contains a roll of honour of the names inscribed in marble tablets of 61 men who fell during World War I.

Above the tablet is an arch inscribed "DULCE ET DECORUM EST PRO PATRIA MORI. ERECTED IN HONOUR OF THOSE WHO FOUGHT AND IN FIGHTING FELL" which was paid for by donations from children of local schools.

Men who returned from service are also listed on tablets headed by an arch ONE GOD. ONE FLAG. ONE EMPIRE. PRO LIBERTATATE.

In all 245 names are listed on the tablets.

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