03. The Nowra Soldiers Gate Memorial


This soldier's memorial is a 7metre tall sandstone structure which forms the main gateway to the Nowra Showground. The design replicates the entrance to a castle and is imposing in its' structure. It is situated on the corner of West & Junction Streets, atop the main street of Nowra facing  downhill  on the main street. The memorial was initially called The Memorial Arch and Gateway, designed by architect Cyril Blacket. Later it was renamed The Soldier's Gate Memorial with the controversial addition of the bronze statue.  This bronze statue was added after WW2 and depicts a soldier with no helmet or rifle, on guard ready for the next conflict. Nowra Showground has always been a place of gatherings for the district, therefore townsfolk regularly interact with it by passing through this gate to attend the annual show, football matches, dog training club, gymnastics club among many other regular community events. This memorial is the focal point for ANZAC day ceremonies and it is where the dawn services take place and the  ANZAC day march finishes.







James Alfred Bowring (service number 19783) was born in Nowra, NSW on 9th of April 1896. He joined the AIF on the 5th of September 1917 at the age of 21 1/2 years. Once he joined the AIF he was placed into the Medical Corps in a Hospital Transport Unit. He left Australia for World War 1 on the 26th of February 1918 and embarked on HMAT Kanowna A61 which had been refitted as a hospital ship. James discharged from the Army on the 29th of March 1919 due to Termination of Period of Enlistment.

Ref./NAA: B2455, Bowring JA"  National Archives of Australia, available from       

It can clearly be seen that Nowra'sSoldiers were mainly privates and the townsfolk took great pride in their working - class heroes, evidenced by the great celebration of these low ranking men in a massive and commanding War Memorial.

The average age for men to enlist  in Nowra and its surrounding towns was 28. The youngest soldier to enlist was  18 . The oldest to enlist was W. Graham who enlisted at the age of 43. from Nowrawhich at the time was quite old to have enlisted.

A majority of soldiers held the rank of private during the war.  44% of the 50 analyzed were killed in action. There was  only one Lieutenant from Nowra . This might indicate that many of these local men were not from a military family  so did not get given a commission

A majority of the 50 soldiers researched would appear to have joined the AIF after the April 25th 1915 onset of the Gallipoli campaign. Nowra's men felt inspired to join their fellow Australians and enlist. Most notably in the famous Waratah'sRecruiting March starting in Nowra on 25thMarch 1915. This was encouraged by the advertising campaigns on posters and on the radio.  As the War was coming  to an end, less men are joining as they could see the death and wounding of the men who were returning to Australia.

Over 40 of the 50 men  analyzed saw service on the Western Front in many different locations. Many of these soldiers saw service in two or three different regions during the war. I found it interesting that only 5 of the 50 went to Gallipoli because I would have thought more would have been sent there. One solider also served his time on Hospital ships which traveled to and from Australia.

Ref./ Pictorial History ShoalhavenDistrict, Roger Coombes, Pg 62