“There’s memorials and plaques around the country but finally there’s one where he was born.”
They’re the words of Private John Patrick Hamilton’s great-grandson Matthew, who was in Orange on Friday with his sister Jo to witness the unveiling of a bronze statue of their great grandfather.
Private Hamilton received the Victoria Cross for his actions during the World War I battle of Lone Pine in 1915.
He was awarded the honour for his “utter disregard of personal safety, exposed himself under heavy fire on the parados [for six hours] in order to secure a better firing position against the enemy’s bomb-throwers”.
“His coolness and daring example had an immediate effect. The defence was encouraged and the enemy driven off with heavy loss,” his citation reads.
Matthew, who travelled from Shellharbour for the ceremony at the statue’s Anson Street placement, said he was “proud and honoured”.
“As young kid, I knew he won a medal for bravery and I was always proud,” he said.
“But it’s not until you’re older that you realise how brave he was and how important that was to the country.”
Matthew said it was a bit surreal to see a member of the family immortalised.
“It’s very special, I feel honoured to be a part of that family,” he said.
Joan Dove’s father was Hamilton’s first cousin and she said the ceremony was “quite moving”.
“Finally some of those guys from a long time ago are being recognised,” Mrs Dove said.
“He was from a time when people didn’t talk about their achievements, they didn’t show off, they just came back and worked hard.”
The son of Hamilton’s platoon officer, Ian Burrett, said when the 3rd Battalion landed at Gallipoli there were 1047 soldiers, with a further 4293 reinforcements reinforcements in the following months.
“Hamilton was the only one of the 5340 to be awarded the Victoria Cross,” he said.
Mr Burrett said Hamilton and the Anzacs faced atrocious conditions before the battle of Lone Pine, “there was never security, never rest, never respite.”
The bronze statue was funded by the Orange Ex-Services Club, Orange City Council and the state government.
Representing the government, Member for Cootamundra Katrina Hodgkinson said Hamilton was the “quintessential Anzac”.
“He’s what we think of when we mark Anzac Day … even those who weren’t heroes but those who were in battle,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
Everlon Bronze’s sales manager Rodney Claxton said the statue took almost five months to complete.