The story of Reginald Roy Inwood and the Victoria Cross

In September 1972 City of Adelaide was given a Victoria Cross medal to display in the Council Chamber at the Town Hall. The medal had been awarded to Reginald Roy Inwood during the First World War.

Roy Inwood

Reginald Roy Inwood was born on 14 July 1890 in North Adelaide, the eldest of three sons of labourer Edward Inwood and his wife Mary. The family later moved to Broken Hill where Roy Inwood grew up and began working in the local mines. In August 1914 he enlisted in the AIF, 10th Infantry Battalion of the Royal South Australian Regiment (‘The Adelaide Rifles’).

Awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at the Battle for the Menin Road, Polygon Wood, East of Ypres, Belgium on 21 September 1917, when Roy was credited with single-handedly wiping out an enemy machine-gun position.

After the War he returned briefly to Broken Hill before moving to Adelaide where he was employed by the City of Adelaide as a labourer and lavatory attendant from 1928 until 1955. Roy married three times but had no children. He died on 23 October 1971, at Tara Private Hospital, St Peters.

Roy Inwood was accorded a full military funeral and was buried in the AIF section of West Terrace Cemetery.

Victoria Cross Donation

In his will Roy Inwood bequeathed all his war medals to the ‘10th Battalion Club’. They intended to hand the Victoria Cross to the Australian War Memorial, but Roy Inwood was not in favour of this preferring that his medal remain in Adelaide. So in June 1971 the Battalion decided, with Roy Inwood’s consent, to present the Victoria Cross to the City of Adelaide ‘to be displayed in a position of dignity’ in the Council Chamber of Town Hall close to where the Battalion’s flags were laid.

It was considered appropriate for the Council to have the Victoria Cross because Roy Inwood had been employed by the corporation for so long. There was also a traditional link between the City and the 10th Battalion in which he had served. It therefore seemed fitting for the City to be given custody of its most celebrated war hero’s highly prized war medal.

The Victoria Cross was presented to the City of Adelaide on 25 September 1972 and accessioned into the City of Adelaide Civic Collection.

Display

Roy Inwood’s Victoria Cross was displayed in the Council Chamber from 1972 until 1989 when it was decided to place the original medal in secure storage and display a replica in its place in the Chamber. This was prompted by concerns for the security of the original medal, and followed extensive conjecture in the media about the rising value of these precious medals.

Displaying a replica in place of an original is appropriate best-practice curatorial management often employed by museums and galleries to reduce risk to extremely valuable collection items. The real Victoria Cross was stored in the high security vault at the Council’s Archives until such time as more adequate security could be provided for it to be permanently displayed in the Council Chamber.

During 2005 the display of Roy Inwood’s original medal became the subject of considerable media and community interest and debate. Some parties called for the medal to be sent to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra to be displayed in its national Victoria Cross Collection. The Council consulted extensively with the Inwood family and other stakeholders about what should happen to the Victoria Cross. The majority believed Roy Inwood’s dying wishes must be honoured and that the medal should remain in South Australia and be returned to the Council Chamber where he had originally intended it be displayed.

In December 2005, therefore, Council decided to strengthen security in the Council Chamber to permit the Victoria Cross to be returned to the Town Hall.

Read more about the Victoria Cross.