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ANDERSON, William Wallace (1888-1975)

ANDERSON, William Wallace (1888-1975)

Wallace Anderson at work.

Wallace Anderson at work.

William Wallace Anderson, sculptor, became known as one of the most popular war artists in Australia.

He was the third child of William Anderson, MLA and Helen Glover nee Naples and was enrolled at Geelong College from 1902 to 1903. His address at enrolment was 'Lasswade, Austin Park near Geelong. He gained the following awards at College:
1902, 2nd, English, Middle 4th Class.
1902, 2nd History, Middle 4th Class.
1902, 1st, Arithmetic, Middle 4th Class.
1902, 2nd, Algebra, 3rd Class.
1902, 2nd, Euclid, Middle 4th Class.
1902, 1st, Latin, 2nd Class.
1902, 1st, French, .3rd Class
1902, 2nd, Scripture, Middle 4th Class.
1903, 1st, Latin, Middle 4th Class.

After leaving Geelong College, Wallace studied engineering at nearby Gordon Technical College from 1904 to 1905. He then trained as an art teacher and was working at Sunshine Technical School when he enlisted in the AIF in 1915 during World War I. Prior to embarkation, Wallace married Gladys Ada Andrews, daughter of John and Lucy Andrews. He embarked on HMAT A26 Armadale on 8 May 1915 for England to a posting at an Instructional Camp.

Wallace’s early war service with the 23rd Battalion involved action near the town of Albert, Mouquet Farm, and Bullecourt. His diary records the futility and sickening violence of the Western Front. Pegasus records that Lieutenant Wallace Anderson was wounded in 1917. At Bullecourt however, Anderson, fortuitously met war artist Will Dyson sheltering in the same shell hole near the front line. This meeting was to lead to an interview with C E W Bean and appointment as an official war artist. Twenty three years later, he wrote to John Treloar on 3 September 1940: 'It was at my first meeting with Dr Bean when I was called out of the front line to meet him and Will Dyson at some village behind the lines in France...It was a strange experience meeting such people and hearing what they had to say of the Australian soldier, and the ideas they both expressed about immortalising the 'Digger' in an Australian War Museum. Shortly afterwards I was appointed Museum's officer and so the collections were started, and later on from a further talk with Dr Bean the model scheme evolved. It was that first meeting with Dr Bean that fired my imagination and it still goes on. So you see I can't help putting everything I know into the scheme until finality is reached.'

His brother, Albert Naples Anderson (1885-1917), who was killed at Gaza during World War I, also attended Geelong College.

Wallace Anderson.

Wallace Anderson.

Following the war Anderson toured the battlefields collecting relics, making sketches, drawings and plans of the battlefields as part of what was to become the Australian War Memorial (AWM). Anderson visited battlefields in France, Egypt and Palestine. It was around this time that the war artists, Charles Gilbert (1867-1925), Louis McCubbin (1890-1952), and Wallace Anderson together with Anderson’s wife Gladys were photographed in front of the pyramids. In 1920, Anderson returned to Australia to continue his work for the Australian War Memorial constructing models, dioramas and sculpture. He continued with the AWM until 1930 before working as a private sculptor. He resumed his work for AWM in the late 1930s working until after the Second World War, assisting with the compilation of models and other artefacts as the AWM was transferred from Melbourne to Canberra. His work at the AWM is extensive, and includes sculptures and dioramas of battlefields. Sculptures include: Water Carrier, Evacuation, and Naval Ratings. The dioramas include: Somme Winter, 1916-17; Battle of Romani, 1916; and Attacking a Pillbox in Nonne Bosschen Swamp, 1917.

Anderson also created a number of works on display in Victoria. The best known of these is The Man with the Donkey, depicting Simpson and his Donkey at Gallipoli. This sculpture is located in the grounds of the Shrine of Remembrance. He was also responsible for the series of heads of Australian Prime Ministers in the Ballarat Botanic Gardens. His work formed the basis for the stamp issue in 1965 celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Gallipoli Landing. Anderson also undertook a sculptured work over 'Pompey' Elliott's grave in Burwood Cemetery. This was unveiled in 1932 on the eve of the 14th anniversary of Elliott's great triumph at Villers Bretonneux. Following the death of Australia's finest fighting soldier Lt Albert Jacka, Anderson created a memorial stone, with a bas-relief portrait of Jacka over his grave. Jacka was buried with full military honours in St Kilda cemetery on 19 January 1932. Two of Anderson's other works are located in Geelong - Spirit of Anzac, commissioned in 1928, and a statue of King George V, in 1937. In 1949, Wallace Anderson was commissioned for a portrait head of Dr Keith McKeddie Doig, a fellow Old Geelong Collegian, who served his country in the Medical Corps as RMO to 60 Battalion and after that service spent many years working in the Colac Hospital, the managing body of which commissioned the work.

In 2011, Wallace Anderson was inducted into the Old Geelong Collegians' Association (OGCA) Notables Gallery.

Sources: Bruce Jamieson - Ad Astra December 1999 pp12-13; Ken Scarlett, 'Anderson, William Wallace (1888-1975)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, Melbourne University Press, 1993, pp 54-55; James Affleck, ‘Old Geelong Collegians’ at the Great War citing: (Rod Anderson; William Wallace Anderson 1888-1975 (Old Collegian 1902-03) Ad Astra; Lola Wilkins (ed.), Artists in Action from the Collection of the Australian War Memorial (Laura Back, Curator of Art, AWM), National Archives). The AWM archives hold notes, copies of correspondence, etc about much of Anderson's work.
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