Reginald Treloar, 1891-1969

Reg Treloar became one of three VFL umpires to be awarded a medal for valour during World War I. He received a Military Medal for his actions at Cerisy in 1918.

Treloar debuted with the VFL on the boundary in 1913 and between then and 1916 amassed 30 matches, including the 1914 and 1915 VFL Grand Finals.  Enlisting on 23 October 1916, Treloar was posted to the 10th reinforcements of the 2nd Machine Gun Company. He spent a year as a machine gun trainer at Grantham, England, and was posted as acting-corporal and acting-sergeant at various times before being sent to France in April 1918. There he joined the 4th Machine Gun Battalion as a private and saw action in Villiers-Bretoneaux and Bressy. He was promoted to lance-corporal in June and his unit was involved in the Allies’ offensive on the Somme.

As part of this operation the 4th Machine Gun Battalion was tasked with capturing the village of Cerisy. After some early success Treloar’s brigade met resistance from well-sited German machine guns. As the attack stalled Treloar swung into action on his machine gun.

His MM citation notes that ‘although his position was under direct “whizz-bang” and machine gun fire he provided direct overhead fire in support of the infantry’.  This assisted the 15th Australian Infantry Battalion and the accompanying tanks in moving forward and they were able to enter Cerisy, taking several hundred prisoners.

When more German machine guns and artillery opened fire, battering the hulls of the tanks, Treloar again moved forward and directly engaged a battery that was holding up the advance and causing many casualties. The battery became ineffective and the infantry moved forward again, swarming over the ridge and causing the enemy to turn and run, abandoning heavy machine guns and artillery pieces.

The Military Medal citation further read, Treloar’s ‘work had great moral effect on the surrounding troops’.

During a rest period in October, Treloar was involved in umpiring many of the football matches played in the afternoons following morning training. On 3 March 1919 he was detached to the football tour, which appears to have been the Australian Divisional Football Championships. There is no record of who officiated in the early rounds, but the 24th Australian Infantry Battalion journal The red and white diamond gives a description of the championship final played on 22 March between the First and Second Divisions and notes in part, ‘Treloar, of the Fourth Division, officiated as central umpire and his capable supervision of the game was largely responsible for the excellence of the play he umpired.’

Treloar returned to Australia in June 1919 and immediately re-joined the VFL adding a further 16 VFL matches on the boundary and one in the field. His field umpiring saw 123 VCFL matches between 1921 and 1925 before taking on the goals where he umpired 248 VFL matches including the 1929, 1932, 1935, 1936 and 1938-41 VFL Grand Finals.

The gun captured as Cerisy shortly after the battle. (AWM)

Following retirement he served on the VFL Umpires Appointment Board for more than a decade.

Throughout this time he also served the VFLUA on the Executive Committee as senior vice-president (1919 and 1933) and president (1934). He was made life member in 1938 and a grand final legend in 2008.

The war was never far away because Reg maintained an interesting connection with the AIF after the armistice; his brother John, was the first Commander of the Australian War Records Section and later the long-time director of the Australian War Memorial.

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