The humble hero


Jens  Ingvarson.
The humble hero
Jens Ingvarson.

Mr Ingvarson was a 19-year-old sailor when he travelled from Denmark to Fremantle aboard a ship in 1913, but upon disembarking decided to desert and started exploring the new country.

Carrying a stick to protect himself, he made his way inland along South Street and eventually found himself in North Lake.

He fell asleep in a barn and was found by young Alice Ellen Gundry, whom he would later marry.

Mr Ingvarson worked at Miss Gundry’s uncle’s farm until Australia became involved in World War I and he naturalised, enlisting in the 44th Battalion and shipping off to France.

‘Jack’ Ingvarson’s story is one that his son Lawrence is particularly proud of.

Lawrence said his father was a popular and brave soldier who quickly rose up the ranks to sergeant, despite being frequently wounded, and was twice awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

“Although my father was a true hero and loved what Australia had done for him, he never paraded his medals,” he said.

“He rarely told anything about the war and the reason for his medals and his best friends remained the men he had fought with during the war.

“It can be difficult to understand why a young Dane, or anyone, could take such risks, knowing the chances of being killed were very high and I can only assume the main motivation was because of what had happened to his mates.

“For years after the war he still had nightmares about the Germans coming and trying to run away.”

He said Anzac Day was always a time of mixed emotions for him.

“Obviously it is a day when I remember with some pride my father’s bravery and the contribution he made to his adopted country and to his mates,” he said.

“But knowing quite well the history of the First World War, its origins and the cavalier attitudes to the lives of ordinary soldiers of many of the politicians and military leaders involved, it is also a day to remind ourselves that war is a stupid and should always be the very last resort.”

Upon returning from war, Mr Ingvarson married Miss Gundry at the Bibra Lake Hall in 1920 and had four children – Julius, Pauline, Nell and Lawrence. He died in 1992.