Yarra Ranges Victoria Cross recipient honoured

Lilydale RSL president Bill Dobson and Seville War Memorial Committee members honoured George Ingram, a World War I veteran who received the Victoria Cross. Picture: SUPPLIED.

By Mikayla van Loon

George Ingram is the Yarra Valley’s very own war hero who was recognised with the region’s only Victoria Cross medal for his gallantry and dedication to fighting the Germans in World War I.

Tuesday 5 October marked the 103rd year since the Battle of Montbrehain where the soldier from Seville helped carry out the successful attack on German defences and resulted in the taking of 400 prisoners.

To honour the occasion, Lilydale RSL president Bill Dobson, chair of the Seville War Memorial Committee Anthony McAleer and bugler Tom Steele, organised to lay a wreath in Seville.

“It’s a special day, just to just to remember his contribution and I think it’s really good after all these years, we’re still doing it,” Mr Dobson said.

George Ingram was one of the first returned soldiers to join the newly established Lilydale RSL in 1919 and was honoured by becoming the first life member of the RSL.

Mr McAleer said he would like people to remember George Ingram’s story, particularly students at Seville Primary School, as a way of learning about World War I and the history of the Anzacs.

“We wanted to one recognise George Ingram and certainly what he achieved in the war but also recognise that there was a local war hero and recognise his involvement in the Anzac story,” he said.

The story of George Ingram is quite unique.

He enlisted in the army in 1914 and having had training with the militia in Queenscliff and Fort Nepean, he was sent to man the guns in the Pacific.

After doing so for 12 months, George, however, became ill from malaria and was sent home where he was discharged from the army, only for him to reenlist with a different middle name and be sent to Europe.

“There’s many aspects we can learn about our Anzac history from George’s story, not just about courage and bravery but certainly sacrifice, certainly endurance, certainly dedication and a sense of duty,” Mr McAleer said.

Seville had around 34 men serve in World War I and of those around 14 never made it home, including George’s brothers Alex and Ronald.

Mr Dobson said George Ingram represents the commitment and sacrifice Seville’s men made during the war.

“If you think about it, there wouldn’t have been a lot of people in town and so it would have been someone’s brother and son and neighbour and friend, so to lose so many around the town would have been devastating,” he said.

“And if you pick out something like George Ingram, it just keeps everything in focus about what happened at that time from a historical point of view.”

It took a number of years for George to overcome his horrific experience in the war and Mr McAleer said it wasn’t until he became a Shrine Guard 1934 that the healing process started.

By this point he was in his 40s and was seeing grieving families heal each and every day after visiting the Shrine of Remembrance.

“He saw the healing process that it had on the families and it had a larger effect on him and helped him get through a lot of those issues he had in those post war years.

“So much so that he then got inspired and ended up enlisting at the beginning of World War II after everything he went through.”

Mr Dobson said George gave a lot to serve his country in not only one but two world wars and it is important to remember him in any way they can, even if it is only in a small wreath laying ceremony until they can host a larger event.

“This is something we want to build on. We want this to be an annual day for the Seville community and the surrounding area to recognise the Yarra Valley’s only Victoria Cross recipient,” Mr McAleer said.