Mont Saint Quentin Digger
Acrylic on canvas board
11 x 14in print or printed to order on canvas
This statue was unveiled in 1971 but it was not the first to stand there. The original memorial to 2nd Division was paid for by members of the Division and was dedicated in 1925. It depicted an Australian soldier bayoneting an eagle.
The original statue being unveiled. Note the size of the statue compared to the dignitaries standing around the plinth.
The sculptor was Charles Web Gilbert, a self-taught artist who was commissioned to create the statue even though Charles Bean, noted historian, thought it was not in the spirit of the Diggers of the AIF.
But Gilbert's statue was unveiled by Marschal Foch to great acclaim and stood on its plinth for 16 years. Gilbert was in his fifties when he created this statue carting clay and bronze by himself. He worked himself to death and died two days before photos of his creation being unveiled in France arrived at his home.
During the occupation of the town by German troops in 1940, the memorial was torn down by Wehrmacht soldiers and its fate is unknown. 31 years later and the current statue was unveiled depicting a pensive Digger with rifle slung.