State: Victoria, Australia
Issued on: Return
Date of presentation: 17/08/1900
Number issued: 1


Gold medal, suitably inscribed, and purse of sovereigns, to:

1st Victorian Mounted Infantry Company [1st Victorian Contingent] –
58 Private George Fairfax VE'ALL

Presentation made by Captain Pleasants, in the Mechanics' Institute, Violet Town.



Violet Town Sentinel, 24th August 1900


On Friday evening last Private Geo. VE’ALL was entertained by his Violet Town friends at a social held in the Mechanics’ Institute. There was a good crowd present, notwithstanding the extremely wet weather, a large proportion wearing mounted rifle uniform. Among the visitors were Sergeant-Major Congdon, Captain Pleasents and Lieutenant Crocker. The hall was nicely decorated with flags hung in rows across the building. Mr Wallace took the chair, and called upon Chandler's Band, which gave a first-class selection of popular airs. Mr J. Turnbull then sang “True till death” in good style. Mrs Crocker perfectly entranced the audience by her rendering of “The song that reached my heart”, being one of the best items a Violet Town audience has listened to for some time. Mr Deane then amused the audience for about twenty minutes with highly amusing feats of mimicry and ventriloquism, showing how a good summer drink may be procured from nothing, or a knife sharpened on an invisible stone and other clever tricks, finishing up with a funny gag between himself and his sawdust friend, Sambo. Mrs Crocker and Mrs Fowler each contributed items which were highly appreciated, after which Captain Pleasents was asked to make a presentation to the guest of the evening of a handsome gold medal, suitably inscribed, and a parse of sovereigns.

In doing so he said: — It affords me the greatest pleasure to be allowed to join in the welcome now extended to you by your friends and comrades, and to congratulate you on your safe return. When we last met at the Euroa railway station in September you were on your way to join the 1st Contingent. I remember you remarked to somebody that 'so far you had enjoyed yourself very much'. You have had a fair share of privation and suffering since, but notwithstanding it am sure you will never regret your South African experience. When our Australian troops were first accepted for foreign service it was generally assumed that they would only be used for ornamental purposes, and some colour was lent to this supposition from the fact that it was decided to use them as small units, attached to various experienced regiments. It is now a matter of history that, no sooner were they afforded the opportunity than they proved themselves not simply useful, but, by their bushcraft and their individuality as scouts, indispensable, with the result that they were brigaded into an Australian Regiment, which has ever since formed part of the Advance Guard of the British Army. We are all proud to know that you and your comrades have maintained the best traditions of the Mother Country, and to know that you, personally, have been specially commended for valour. When our soldiers have returned and settled down again to their peaceful avocations, it will probably be found that Violet Town holds a position unique amongst Australian towns, in that it will have borne fullest testimony to the determination of the volunteers to do and to die, in the service of their Queen and Country. On the one hand it was amongst the first to sacrifice its young life, in the person of Pte. WILLIAMS, on the altar of duty. We all mourn his loss, and it is comforting to know that a memorial is to he raised in his native town which will keep his memory green long after the bugle has sounded lights out for all his comrades. On the other hand, through you this little town bids fair to achieve the highest honour bestowed upon the British, or any other soldier — the Victoria Cross. But while you are amongst the first of our Australian soldiers to be recommended for the coveted distinction we cannot escape the saddening reflection that through the weight of years, and the ordinary course of nature you may also be very nearly amongst the last who are likely to receive it by direction of our aged Sovereign who is the founder of the Order. I hope you will get it and live long lo wear it, but however long you may live, rest assured that generations after you will have passed away before Violet Town is likely to forget that amongst its residents it has numbered a hero of the Victoria Cross, or one who has even been recommended for it. I have now to ask your acceptance of these gifts as a token of the esteem in which your friends and comrades hold you both as a soldier and as a man.

This was followed by cheers.

Private VE’ALL in responding, said it gave him great difficulty to express his feelings in thanking his friends for their kind gifts, but could assure them that they would be thoroughly appreciated. Hs was sorry that his comrade, Charlie WILLIAMS, was not there with him, but it was gratifying to know that he had not shirked his duty, and had died a good soldier and brave man. It had hurt his feelings very much when in South Africa to see reported in a paper that he (Private VE’ALL) had been guilty of insubordination — that he had struck an officer, and was to be tried by court martial. There was no truth in the statement, and on seeing it he had taken the paper to his commanding officer, Capt. Duncan McLeish, and that officer wrote a letter denying the statements. He was glad that letter had been published in the Violet Town Sentinel, and he hoped no one had now any doubt as to his character. Speaking of the treatment received in South Africa he had nothing much to complain of. Certainly, they got it a bit rough, but that was only to be expected in time of war, as the convoy could not always keep up with the main body. Five biscuits a day was the allowance. He had been on two. When he volunteered for active service he had expected hardships, and he got them, but nothing more than he anticipated and therefore he could not complain. Colonel Price, he said, was a splendid officer, and much respected by his men. He had got a bad name some years ago over what had occurred at the time of the strike, but he thought that was all wiped out now. He had shown great coolness and bravery when in action. He (Pte. VE’ALL) had been with him in the firing line, where the Colonel sat on his horse among the bursting pom poms, giving advice just the same as if on parade. After an engagement they had retreated, the Boer force being about 1000 against 15 men. Colonel Price looked over his men and gave the order to right-about. The adjutant asked if he were going to charge the enemy. "Do you take me for a _______ ass?" was his reply. "No! but there are three of my men in there and they must be got out". Without another word, be put spurs to his horse and galloped off, when three others galloped past him. This showed that he would not ask a man to do a thing that he would not do himself. Another thing about him was that on returning to camp after a hard day's riding he would always see that they got a good hot supper. With regard to the congratulations of Capt. Pleasents in reference to the Victoria Cross, he could not say that it was due to him, and he did not think he would ever get it, but should he have that good fortune, he hoped he would deserve it, and he would be proud to wear it. Private VE’ALL again thanked the audience, and resumed his seat amid loud and prolonged cheering.

Dancing was then indulged in to the excellent music of Chandler’s Band, and was kept up till an early hour, light refreshments being provided.