External Bas-Reliefs

Surmounting the east and west portals are great bronze bas-relief panels which tell in graphic form the activities of the 1st AIF. That on the eastern face illustrates the Eastern campaigns of the Australians, from the landing at Gallipoli to the campaign in Sinai and Palestine.

In similar manner the panel on the western side of the building depicts Australians in the First World War on the Western Front, in France and Belgium.

Each of the bronze panels is over 10 metres long and over 1 metre high.  The style is realistic and matter of fact, and neither pathos nor heroics are invoked when the wounded, gassed and dying men fall. The reliefs are probably inspired by Roman Victory Columns such as Trajan's. Hoff had studied in Rome.

Photo by Rob Tuckwell

The Western Front, 1916-1918

From left to right are depicted: A soldier of a Cyclist's Company - An R.E.8 Aeroplane , Pilot and Observer with machine gun - Pilot, Observer and Mechanic of the Flying Corps - Dispatch Rider with pigeon basket leaving signals HQ - Pioneer with duck board - Infantry marching from rest area - Signallers laying telephone wire - Gassed and wounded leaving casualty station - 9.2in. Howitzer in action (firing) - Stretcher Bearers going forward with stretcher - Bomber throwing a 'Mills' - A Lewis Gun Crew with infantry in attack against gas, accompanied by a tank.

Photo by Rob Tuckwell

The Eastern Campaigns, 1914-1918

From left to right are shown: A Naval Landing Party - A.N.&M.E.F. Chief Petty Officer - Surgeon, Nurse, Stretcher Bearer and Ambulance Driver at railhead depot - Wireless Signallers in the field - Infantry - Australian Camel Corps - Railway Engineers laying light lines (Palestine) - Mule Transport with water containers - Light Horse acting as infantry - Pioneer - Part of a crew of Hotchkiss Hun - Eighteen-pounder Battery in action (loading) - Ford with mounted Lewis Gun and Light Horse in attack with mounted Hotchkiss Gun - Section registering casualties.

On this day
24 April

1918 — Second Battle of VILLERS-BRETONNEUX began. Australian and British troops fought to regain the town that had been captured just three weeks earlier. There were 1469 Australian casualties, many due to mustard gas

1918 — LT C. SADLIER won a Victoria Cross for his inspirational gallantry during the battle at Villers-Bretonneux