Biography

Birth date: 21 May 1893
Birth place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, Collingwood
Death date: 12 January 1970
Death place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, Heidelberg
Final rank: Second Lieutenant
Service number: 1914 - First World War, 1914-1918
1946 - First World War, 1914-1918
Unit: 22nd Australian Infantry Battalion

William "Rusty" Ruthven was born at Collingwood, Melbourne, and was a mechanic in the timber industry before enlisting in April 1915. After serving on Gallipoli he went to France, where he was wounded in April 1916.

During an attack near Ville-sur-Ancre on 19 May 1918, Ruthven performed outstanding acts of bravery. He took command of a company after the officer commanding was wounded, and personally assaulted enemy strongpoints. Throughout the successful action, he led by example, inspiring and encouraging his men. During the mopping-up and consolidation, he captured 32 Germans.

Ruthven was commissioned in July 1918 and discharged in December. He became a soldier-settler for a while, but returned to Collingwood and became a local councillor. During the Second World War he served in garrison battalions, reaching the rank of major. From 1945 to 1961 he was a member of the Victorian parliament.

Ruthven received the Victoria Cross, service medals for the First and Second World Wars and coronation medals for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II.

Rolls and Awards

First World War Embarkation Roll

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of embarkation: 26 August 1915
  • Place of embarkation: Melbourne

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 22nd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 22nd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 22nd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 22nd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 22nd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 22nd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 22nd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Photograph

044844

VICTORIA CROSS WINNERS FROM THE BOER WAR AND WORLD WAR 1 WHO GATHERED TO MARCH IN THE SYDNEY ANZAC DAY PARADE. BACK ROW LEFT TO RIGHT: LIEUTENANT (LIEUT.) J. ROGERS, SERGEANT (SGT) R. R. INWOOD, BRIGADIER A. S. BLACKBURN, SGT J. W. WHITTLE, SGT S. R. MCDOUGALL, MAJOR E. T. TOWNER, CAPTAIN (CAPT) A....

044844

044957

Sydney, NSW. 1938-04-23. A group portrait of Victoria Cross recipients who were invited to Sydney by the United Licensed Victuallers Association (ULVA) to march as a group in the 1938 Sydney Anzac Day march. This gesture by the ULVA was part of the Australian sesquicentennial (150 years)...

044957

028659

MURCHISON, AUSTRALIA. MAJOR W. RUTHVEN, VC., 50TH AUSTRALIAN GARRISON COMPANY, NO. 13 PRISONER OF WAR GROUP.

028659

072966

Port Melbourne, Vic. 1918. Australian Victoria Cross winners from World War 1 invited by the Prime Minister of Australia, The Honourable W. M. Hughes, to return home to assist in a recruiting campaign. The photograph was taken as the ship HMAT Medic was berthing. The identified men are, from the...

072966

E04831

Near Ville-sur-Ancre, France. 20 May 1918. Australians of the 21st Battalion standing in the entrance to the `Big Caterpillar', near Ville-sur-Ancre. The `Big' and `Little Caterpillars', so called from their marking on the maps, were strongly held sunken roads near Ville-sur-Ancre, which troops of...

E04831

J03075

1927-04-25. AUSTRALIAN VICTORIA CROSS (VC) WINNERS WHO TOOK PART IN THE ANZAC DAY MARCH IN MELBOURNE, WAITING TO ENTER THE EXHIBITION BUILDING, WHERE A COMMEMORATION SERVICE WAS HELD. LEFT TO RIGHT: CAPTAIN R.C. GRIEVE, 2ND LIEUT W. RUTHVEN, CAPT J.E. NEWLAND, 2ND LIEUT J. HAMILTON, LIEUT. A....

J03075

J03076

MELBOURNE, AUS. 1927-04-25. AUSTRALIAN VICTORIA CROSS (VC) WINNERS WHO TOOK PART IN THE 1927 ANZAC DAY MARCH. IN THE BACKGROUND ARE THE KING'S AND REGIMENTAL COLOURS OF THE A.M.F. BATTALIONS AND REGIMENTS. LEFT TO RIGHT:- CORPORAL (CPL) B.S. GORDON MM, CPL T.L. AXFORD MM, CPL J. CARROLL, SERGEANT...

J03076

D00019

Informal portrait of Second Lieutenant William Ruthven VC, 22nd Battalion. Ruthven won his Victoria Cross as a (Service No. 1946) Sergeant during action at Ville-sur-Ancre, France, 19 May 1918.

D00019

E02730

An Officer of the 2nd Division, Second Lieutenant W. Ruthven, receiving the Victoria Cross at a presentation ceremony held by Lieutenant General Sir John Monash, near Camon.

E02730

A05537

MELBOURNE, 1927-11. A FORMAL GROUP PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN AT THE VICTORIA CROSS REUNION DINNER. LEFT TO RIGHT: STANDING: MR W.D. JOYNT VC, SQUADRON LEADER F.H. MCNAMARA VC RAAF, MR J. ROGERS VC, LIEUTENANT G.M. INGRAM VC, MR W. PEELER VC, MR L.D. MCCARTHY VC, CROIX DE GUERRE, MR R.V. MOON VC; FRONT ROW:...

A05537

P00398.001

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA, 1918-10. ABOARD THE TROOP TRANSPORT 'MEDIC' TEN VICTORIA CROSS WINNERS OF THE FIRST AUSTRALIAN IMPERIAL FORCE WHO WERE INVITED BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA, W.M. HUGHES, TO RETURN TO AUSTRALIA TO ASSIST IN A RECRUITING CAMPAIGN. BACK ROW, LEFT TO RIGHT: SGT. W. PEELER,...

P00398.001

Art

Sergeant William 'Rusty' Ruthven

Portrait of Sergeant William 'Rusty' Ruthven (1893-1970) of the 22nd Battalion, AIF. Sergeant William Ruthven was awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery and initiative in action in Ville-sur-Ancre in France during the First World War. Born in Collingwood, Victoria, William Ruthven...

ART03589

Private Record

Crooke, Cyril Ednott (Lieutenant, b.1892 - d.1965)

Collection relating to the First World War service of Lieutenant Cyril Ednott Crooke, Australian Flying Corps (AFC). Collection consists of a leather bound sketch book featuring detailed water colour paintings produced between 4 March 1918 and 24 September 1918. It depicts aeroplanes, troopships,... Maker: Crooke, Cyril Ednott

3DRL/2497 (With records)

Digitised Collection

Sketch book of Cyril Ednott Crooke, 1918

Sketch book relating to the First World War service of Lieutenant Cyril Ednott Crooke, Australian Flying Corps. The bound leather drawing book features detailed water colour paintings produced between 4 March 1918 and 24 September 1918. It depicts aeroplanes, troopships, Leeds Castle, Australian...

RCDIG0000352

Timeline

Date of birth 1893-05-21
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1915-04-19 Enlisted in the 22nd Battalion.
Date of embarkation 1915-08-26
Date of honour or award 1918-05-19 Awarded Victoria Cross for action at Villesurancre, France whilst serving with 22 Battalion, 6 Brigade, 2 Division as a Sergeant
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-05-19
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-05-24
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-05-27
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-05-30
Date returned to Australia 1918-08-24
Date of death 1970-01-12