Posted by: travelrat | July 25, 2008

ANZAC Chalk Carving, Codford

One day in 1917, the commander of an ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) brigade camped at Codford, on the edge of Salisbury Plain, looked out of the window of his headquarters at Stockton House. He thought that he might leave a memento of the passing of his men by having a chalk figure, like the ancient White Horses, carved on the hillside opposite. But, it wouldn’t be a horse; it would be the familiar ANZAC ‘Rising Sun’ cap badge, on which the Sydney Harbour Bridge is said to be modelled.

Of course, in those days, he didn’t need, as modern commanders do, to conduct a Risk Assessment, or run his ideas past the Budget Manager. He just said ‘Let There Be …’ and there was!

So, men of the 3rd Training Battalion, AIF, were soon at work cutting the figure in the hillside. But, at first, they didn’t just expose the underlying chalk. Their badge was bronze, not white, so they embedded empty beer bottles into it. Maintenance of the figure was often carried out as a punishment by the defaulters, so it became known as ‘Misery Hill’ … the official name is Lamb Down.

The figure can easily be seen today from the A36 Salisbury to Warminster road. But, it’s a bad place to stop, and rather hazardous to walk along. There is a car park and viewing area at Stockton, near where Brigade Headquarters was, but it’s rather far off, and doesn’t make for good photography.

Now, you’ll note, in the following paragraphs, I say ‘I went’ rather than ‘You should go’, as I’m not sure if the lane I used is a public right-of-way or not. I don’t want to be accused of ‘incitement to trespass’ But, I don’t want to be held responsible for a lot of corpses on the verges of the A36, either!

So, I climbed up Malmpit Hill, a tarmacked lane leading out of Codford. There were gaps in the hedge to the right that afforded some excellent views of the carving. There’s a track to the right at the top of the hill, leading right to the top of the carving, but it isn’t really worth it. The carving isn’t recognisable from this angle, and there’s nothing up here to tell you what it is, or how it came about.

To find that out, you should go to the ANZAC War Graves, outside St. Mary’s Church, in Codford village. Here, you’ll find an information board, which will tell you about the figure and the cemetery.

If you want to see the carving, but won’t be in Wiltshire any time soon, you can see it clearly on Google Earth, at 51°09’13.50“N 2°01’28.16″W

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Responses

  1. […] I finally got around to visiting, and photographing the ANZAC chalk figure at Codford. Read about it at https://travelrat.wordpress.com/2008/07/25/anzac-chalk-carving-codford/ […]

  2. Thanks for that. My son will be very interested!

  3. Do you want me to email some pictures of the nearby ANZAC cemetery for him?

  4. I have known this badge for 50 years and was delighted to find a plate in a local sale with this emblem emblazened on it. The wording is Australian Military Force. No doubt a left over from the many camps in this area. Most of the soldiers returned to Australia, though many also died in the war or from the flu in 1919. One however stayed on in Warminster and opened a popular grocery shop that was still open when my mother was a child.

    • Hi, Steve!

      This sounds like a piece of Mess crockery, although I can’t put a date to it, as I’m not sure when the Australian Imperial Force became the Australian Military Force.

      You knew, didn’t you, that there’s also an AIF badge among the Regimental Badges at Fovant?

  5. Did you get get my response? John.

    • No; nothing since your initial comment on the ‘About Me’ page.

      • Its just that my original response appeared on this page then disappeared.

        My family migrated from Ireland to Australia in the 1870’S ,unfortunately I have no history before that.

      • I don’t know of any Irish connections, but we could only go back as far as my great-grandfather (also John!) who was a builder in Bowness on Windermere, who we believe originally came from Bradford.

        However, my researches came up with this gentleman http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Kellett who might have been one of your forbears; he was born in Tipperary!

  6. The Rising Sun badge was Australian so I doubt our Kiwi cousins would accept it as theirs also.

    • Hmmm! Although it was an Australian division that made the carving, ANZAC was the ‘Australian and New Zealand Army Corps’, was it not? However, the Kiwis did also leave their mark on our hills … see https://travelrat.wordpress.com/2007/06/29/the-bulford-kiwi and https://travelrat.wordpress.com/2007/07/27/bulford-kiwi-video/

      • Your correct about the meaning of the acronym “ANZAC” and I do remember another carving nearby but as I tried to take in the first carving the second one was just a blurr. I don’t remember it being a Kiwi though.

      • Probably the Edington White Horse; it’s the only one nearby & you can’t see the Bulford Kiwi very well from the road … it’s a very minor road … anyway.

  7. Hi Keith,
    I had heard about this, but wasn’t real sure about where it was. Great photo, and a good read as well.

  8. Just wish to say your article is as amazing.

    The clearness for your publish is just nice and i can suppose you are an expert in this subject.
    Fine along with your permission allow me to
    grab your feed to keep up to date with imminent post. Thanks one million and
    please continue the enjoyable work.

  9. My grandfather was a lieutenant in the ANZAC (Pioneer), he was a surveyor from Sydney and laid out the badge you mention.

    • Thanks for that, Mark! What was his name?

  10. Another fascinating fact from you. I can add this to my list of places to visit even if it is rather hazardous.

    • It’s not hazardous, unless you choose to view it from the road. There’s a substantial layby nearby, where you can park a car, and walk up Malmpit Lane, to the place I took the photo from.

      (and, if anyone challenges you … I didn’t say you could! 😀 )


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