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Army February 17, 2011
AFTER 14 months of construction
the refurbished Hall of Valour at
the Australian War Memorial in
Canberra will be officially launched on
Taking the form of a Victoria Cross,
the $4.5m Hall of Valour renovation was
designed by architect Richard Johnson
and incorporates sandstone and granite to
match the exterior of the building.
Memorial spokeswoman Debra
Holland said the circular design of the
central space reflected the dome of the
Hall of Memory above
"The central part of the Hall of Valour
has a high level of significance as it forms
a vertical axis in relation to the tomb of
the Unknown Australian soldier and the
Hall of Memory," Ms Holland said.
"The modern renovations have also
made the Hall of Valour a main thorough-
fare to the Aircraft Hall and Anzac Hall."
On display are 66 of the 98 Victoria
Crosses awarded to Australians, including
two awarded to British soldiers who set-
tled, lived and died in Australia.
Ms Holland said it was not considered
effective to present the VCs as a single
mass as this provided no opportunity to
develop individual stories.
"Each VC is identical in design, it
was considered necessary to concentrate
on the individuals, exploits and events to
provide logical groupings," she said.
"The decision was made to group the
VCs chronologically by war, and then
campaign or battle.
"The final exhibition includes 21
chronological groups. The VC recipients
within each group or section are arranged
in order of date of VC exploit."
Ms Holland said more than 1300
hours of conservation work had gone into
the medals and ribbons by specialists in
textile and objects conservation.
"First the medals are demounted and
the ribbons are removed in the textiles
lab," she said.
"The medals are then examined by
objects conservators and their condition
"Few VCs or other medals have polish
residues, since they are rarely polished by
the recipients, but occasionally they may
have verdigris corrosion, which is usually
removed in degreasing process.
"After the medals have been cleaned,
they are returned to textiles lab for
The stories of the Australian VC
recipients that line the walls of the Hall of
Valour date back to the first, Sir Neville
Howse, who was a lieutenant when he
received the medal in 1900.
Ms Holland said the medal recognised
a human quality and aspiration.
"It is awarded for service to the coun-
try and where personal interests are sur-
rendered for the benefit of others. The
integrity of the awards has rarely been
challenged, and it has been untarnished
by political interference," she said.
"Consequently, the Victoria Cross
is possibly the best known and most
respected of all high awards for valour
across the world."
FAMILY members of Sir Neville Howse,
Australia's first Victoria Cross recipient, gath-
ered at the Australian War Memorial for a view-
ing of his medals and portrait in the renovated
Hall of Valour on January 17.
Three generations of the Howse family
attended the ceremony to honour the first and
only medical officer to receive the medal.
Sir Neville, who later went on to become a
federal minister for health, received the Victoria
Cross in 1900 after rescuing a wounded man
under heavy fire while serving with a mounted
infantry brigade in South Africa.
Sophie Mitchell, Sir Neville's great grand-
daughter, said the new display was very impor-
tant to her family and they were immensely
proud of their family history.
"We are honoured that we are able to share
his story with visitors of the war memorial," Mrs
"We hope his legacy will live on through our
memories but also through his story which is
A Howse family legacy
Looking back: Valerie Howse, OAM, visits her father-
in-law's portrait and medals at the Australian War
Memorial's Hall of Valour.
Renovation: Visitors take in the refurbished Hall of Valour at the Australian War Memorial.
Photos by Cpl Aaron Curran
After a long period of refurbishment, the Hall of
Valour has reopened with an engrossing
new design philosophy, Cpl Zenith King reports.
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