Community leaders have gathered to remember the bravery and dedication of Victoria Cross (VC) winner, John Hamilton, with the unveiling of a statue outside Orange’s former Town Hall.
Orange mayor John Davis OAM is delighted the statue could be put in place in time for this year’s Anzac Day commemorations.
“The campaign to recognize the connections Hamilton had with Orange gained momentum during recent preparations for the World War I centenary commemorations. It’s obvious we should recognize that Orange had a second soldier who was awarded the VC,” Cr John Davis said. “The bravery of Sir Neville Howse has been acknowledged for many years, but when it was discovered that John Hamilton was born in Orange, there was strong community support for another memorial to be built.”
The life-size bronze statue was cast in Victoria by Everlon Bronze and funded by :
“I congratulate all those who had a hand in garnering support for this project, and I’m delighted that when ex-servicemen and women gather here in front of the Town Hall to march on Anzac Day each year, the statue of John Hamilton and the stories of his courage will be here to inspire them, and see them off on their way,” Cr John Davis said.
“This site outside the old Town Hall was historically a place for Orange residents to gather, and it’s an ideal location for a statue with a story like this.”
Representing the NSW Government at the unveiling Hon Katrina Hodgkinson said : “It is a great honour to be here today representing the NSW Government and to be part of a ceremony that honours the actions and story of one man from this city whose courage and daring exemplifies the spirit of the ANZACs.”
President of the Orange Ex-Services Club, Graham Gentles said the club was pleased to be involved in the project.
“We’ve already named a re-vamped room at the club after Hamilton, but this statue will be a great addition for the Orange community ,” Graham Gentles said. “In this location I think the significance of this statue will continue to grow. It will mean more and more to Orange residents in future years.”
PERSONAL INFORMATION ABOUT JOHN HAMILTON :
John Hamilton was born in Orange on 24 January 1896.
Enlisting on 15 September 1914, he took part in the original landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.
At age 19 John took part in the bloody battle of Lone Pine. Of the 883 officers and men of the 3rd Battalion at the time of the assault, only 291 marched out. Early on the morning of 9 August the Turkish troops launched a violent attack. Hamilton was ordered to take up a position on the parapet, behind and above the trench to attack the Turkish troops coming across open ground. His role was as a sniper, protected only by a number of sandbags. He hurled improvised jam-tin bombs at the Turks, as well as picking up enemy bombs and throwing them back before they exploded.
After a spell in England, when he was presented with a Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace, Hamilton went back to the front in France with his unit, and fought at Pozieres, Mouquet Farm and Flers during the Somme offensive.
John Hamilton settled at Tempe in Sydney, and worked as a docker, shipping clerk, storeman and packer. He was an active member of the Waterside Workers’ Federation.
During the Second World War John Hamilton returned to active service as a lieutenant on 3 June 1940 and served with the 16th Garrison Battalion until September 1942. He served overseas with the 3rd Pioneer Battalion in New Guinea. In 1944 he joined the Army Labour Service, and was promoted to Captain on 21 October. With his unit he supported the Australian forces who landed on Bougainville in July 1945. His second period of war service was terminated on 19 August 1946.
John Patrick Hamilton, a son of Orange, died of cerebro-vascular disease in the Repatriation General Hospital, Concord, Sydney on 27 February 1961, leaving his widow Myrtle and a married son Alwyn.
The bronze statue was installed days before the public unveiling.