History

Victory in the Pacific memorial service, 16 August 1945. Australian War Memorial image (112684)

The Shrine of Remembrance was created to meet the needs of a grieving community after the extensive loss of lives in the First World War (1914 –18). 114,000 Victorians enlisted in the First World War. Of the 89,000 of them who served abroad 19,000 were killed. They were buried in distant graves far from home at a time when most Australians did not travel abroad. The Shrine provided a place where Victorians could grieve as individuals, as families or as a community. It also served to honour the courage of the men, women and children who remained at home. 

The design for the Shrine of Remembrance was selected by competition among Australian artists and architects. Eighty-three designs were submitted and the winning design was by two Melbourne returned-soldier architects, Philip Hudson and James Wardrop. The inspiration for the external outline came from one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—the mausoleum at Halicarnassus to Mausolus, King of Caria in South West Asia Minor. Although the country was faced with frightful unemployment and financial difficulty in the late 1920s and the 1930s, so great was the gratitude of the people that the huge amount required to build the Shrine was raised or promised within six months from the opening of the appeal in 1928. 

Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester and son of King George V, officially opened the Shrine before a crowd of 300,000 people in November 1934. Since then, other memorials have been added to the site to mark the service of successive generations, such as the Second World War Forecourt and the Post 1945 Memorial. While direct experience and knowledge of the events of the First World War and subsequent conflicts fade, interest in them is growing. Today the Shrine places a high priority on education and interpretation. Through commemoration, exhibitions and public programs the Shrine continues to honour Victorian service and sacrifice and to uphold and reinforce the values we associate with the original ANZACs.