The ‘Driver and Wipers’ sculpture commemorates the soldiers who fought and died at Ypres, Belgium in the First World War. Some 38,000 Australians were killed or wounded during the 3rd Battle of Ypres, better known as the Battle of Passchendaele.
The sculptures are the work of British sculptor Charles Sargeant Jagger. ‘Driver and Wipers’ was originally on display outside the State Library of Victoria. In 1998 the sculptures were moved to the Shrine Reserve where you see them today. Both sculptures are recasts of original sculptures in London.
The figure called ‘The Driver’ is representative of the soldiers who drove teams of horses during the First World War. The Driver is holding a whip and bridles for two horses. He is wearing breeches, spurs and a protective legging on his lower right leg. He has a steel helmet for protection. Can you also see the bag he is wearing over his shoulder? This would have held his gas mask, an important piece of equipment to help survive attacks of poison gas. The cape he is wearing also provided protection against gas attacks.
Around the other side we see the sculpture called ‘Wipers’. The title ‘Wipers’ comes from the soldier’s pronunciation of French ‘Ypres’. He is depicted as a soldier ready for action and holding his rifle. Notice the determined expression on his face. At his feet is a German helmet symbolising the enemy being fought in the First World War.
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Reviewed 30 March 2021