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Photographs supplied by Graeme Saunders

A park commemorates James Belsar, who in December 1913 rescued Allan Ross from drowning in the Murray River.

At an interval during the progress of the water gymkhana yesterday afternoon the opportunity was taken to recognise the bravery of Mr. James Belsar and Masters Hector M'Donald and Claude Ross for saving Master A. Ross from drowning in the Murray on the 31st December last by presenting each with a medal. The action was taken by the Swan Hill Aquatic Club. The duty of presenting the medals was entrusted to Frank Beaurepaire. Mr. Beaurepaire said that he appreciated the honor of being asked to present the medals to the brave man and the two boys who by their timely actions had been intrumental in saving life. It was a very brave action for anyone to try and save a human life, no matter whether it from drowning or any other cause. But possibly in the case of drowning it was more to be commended than some others, as the rescuer risked his own life in his attempt to try and save that of the the person. The presenting of the medals gave the opportunity to emphasise the fact that it was absolutely necessary not only to teach everyone to swim, but how to save life also. In the present case the action was all the more commended, when the treacherous nature of the Murray was considered. The facts as he understood them were that when the boy was in difficulties in the water the other two lads went to his assistance. The three were then struggling in the stream when Belsar came on the scene, and, seeing the position immediately jumped into the river, without stopping to remove his clothes or boots, and succeeded in getting the boys to the bank. Belsar was a brave man to have done this, and in doing what he did he had given no thought to the danger he incurred to his own life. Mr. Beaurepaire then presented the medals, first a silver one to each of the lads and then a gold one to Mr. Belsar. The medals were suitably inscribed, the principal words being  " For bravery in saving life." Just prior to making the presentation he called for three cheers for the recipients, which were heartily given.  Mr. Appleby responded on behalf of Mr. Belsar. In doing what he had done, Mr. Belsar considered he had only done his duty. On behalf of the aquatic club Mr. C. M'Donald thanked Mr Beaurepaire for his attendance that day, and his valuable demonstrations. He thanked the public for its support. 
Swan Hill Guardian and Lake Boga Advocate (Vic), 19 February 1914.


Address:McCallum Street, James Belsar Reserve, Swan Hill, 3585
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -35.337931
Long: 143.562172
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Park
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event Start Date:31-December-1913
Actual Event End Date:31-December-1913


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:1987
Front Inscription

JAMES BELSAR (1881 - 1941)

James Belsar started his working life on the Murray River
paddleboats at the age of 14, first as a deck-hand,
then working his way up to his final position
as skipper of PS Success.
On 31 December 1913, he heroically rescued a young man,
Allan Ross, who was drowning in the river, diving in with
his pipe still in his mouth. James was honoured by
the Royal Humane Society for his courage and humanity,
and was presented with a gold medallion
from the people of Swan Hill.

In 1987 the Swan Hill City Council
nameD this area "James Belsar Reserve"
in lasting recognition of his actions.

Swan Hill Rural City Council

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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