ST CLAIR, Gordon

Service Number: 3687
Enlisted: 22 February 1916
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 1st Tunnelling Company (inc. 4th Tunnelling Company)
Born: Burwood, New South Wales, 1886
Home Town: Mosman, Municipality of Mosman, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Commercial Traveller
Died: At home - Mosman, New South Wales, 31 May 1982, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium, NSW
Show Relationships

World War 1 Service

22 Feb 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 3687
22 May 1916: Involvement Corporal, SN 3687, No 4th Tunnelling Company - Headquarters No 1
22 May 1916: Embarked Corporal, SN 3687, No 4th Tunnelling Company - Headquarters No 1, HMAT Warilda, Sydney
22 May 1916: Embarked Corporal, SN 3687, 1st Tunnelling Company (inc. 4th Tunnelling Company), HMAT Warilda, Sydney
22 May 1916: Involvement Corporal, SN 3687, 1st Tunnelling Company (inc. 4th Tunnelling Company)
23 Jan 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 3687, Australian Electrical and Mechanical Mining and Boring Company
15 Mar 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 3687, 1st Tunnelling Company (inc. 4th Tunnelling Company)
6 Jul 1919: Embarked AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 3687, 1st Tunnelling Company (inc. 4th Tunnelling Company), Returned to Australia onboard HT Boorara, ex England
12 Oct 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 3687, 1st Tunnelling Company (inc. 4th Tunnelling Company)

Help us honour Gordon St Clair's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Julianne Ryan

Gordon St Clair was born at Burwood, New South Wales in 1886.

Father John James and St Clair and Mother Elizabeth Ann (nee Eady) St Clair.

Brother in service:
105 Private Percy Augustus St Clair - 9th Machine Gun Company
Percy was a 27-year-old, an Orchardist.  He completed the Attestation Paper on 18 January 1916 at the Royal Agricultural Showgrounds, Sydney.
He was appointed to the 9th Machine Gun Company, 9th Brigade and embarked at Sydney on 1 May 1916 on board HMAT A24 Benalla.
Percy disembarked in England on 10 July 1916.  He was admitted to the Fargo Hospital on 20 September with tonsillitis.
On 21 November he proceeded overseas to France. 
On 8 June 1917, Percy was reported Missing in Action (believed killed).  Further entries record that he was treated at the 9th Australian Field Ambulance for gun shot wound to abdomen on the same day.  He was transferred to the 53rd Casualty Clearing Station where he died on 8 June 1917
buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, Plot 3; Row C.; Grave 204.

Annie Elizabeth   b. 1876 - never married - d. 1967 St Leonards, NSW
Cecil John  b. 1878 - d. 1961 North Sydney, NSW
Vivian  b. 1880 - d. 1969 Ryde, NSW
Douglas  b. 1881 - d. 1959 Chatswood, NSW
Lillian Beatrix  b. 1883 - never married - d. 1969 St Leonards, NSW
Leslie Harold  b. 1885 - d. 1952 Mosma, NSW

Gordon completed the ‘Attestation Paper of Persons Enlisted for Service Abroad’ on 22 February 1916 at Victoria Barracks, Sydney. 
He stated he was 29 years and 7 months of age and a Commercial Traveller by profession.  A medical examination on the same day recorded that he was 5ft 8¼ins tall, weighed 135 lbs, had a fresh complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair.  He had several scars on his arms and legs as distinguishing features.  He initially named as his Next-of-Kin his mother Mrs. E. A. St Clair of “Irenia”, 21 Dalton Road, Mosman, New South Wales.  This was later changed to his father John James St Clair of the same address.

Gordon signed the Attestation Paper, and the Oath to ‘well and truly serve’ on 13 March 1916 in front of 2nd Lieutenant John MacDiarmid Royle, Adjutant of the Mining Corps.  He was assigned to the 4th Tunnelling Company with the rank of Sapper and the service number 3687.  Promoted to Acting Corporal on 1 April, his promotion to Corporal was confirmed on 16 May 1916.

Two Sections of the Northern recruits to form the No.4 Company had embarked from Brisbane, Queensland early in May, 1916 aboard HMAT A69 Warilda for Sydney, New South Wales (NSW).  Six officers and 152 other ranks together with the 1st Reinforcements of fifteen other ranks made up the two sections.  At Rosebery Park, Sydney, NSW they joined their Headquarters and two sections (8 officers & 153 O.Rs.) plus 1st Reinforcements consisting of one officer and seventeen other ranks for final training.

Sydney Morning Herald Monday May 22, 1916:  THE TROOPS, INSPECTION AT MOORE PARK
In the presence of a crowd of 10,000 people the District Commandant, Brigadier-General Ramaciotti, V.D., held an inspection of troops at Moore Park, on Saturday afternoon.  The troops consisted of Field Artillery, Tunnelling Section (including Queenslanders), under Major Vincent; Infantry, under Lieutenant Owen Gibbs, under Captain Brosnan, the whole parade being under the command of Major Holman, D.S.O.
Prior to arrival of the commandant and his staff, the men were drawn up in columns of companies on the Dowling-street side of the ground, facing the tramline.  The bands of Liverpool Headquarters and the Engineers played selections of music.
Brigadier-General Ramaciotti, V.D. made a close inspection of the lines.  Returning to the saluting base the Commandant took the salute as the various units marched past in columns of companies, and again as they returned headed by the band in columns of fours.
One company had with it a small kangaroo as a mascot.  The animal was held on a ribbon, but when it drew level with the saluting base it bobbed up and down as if anxious to do its share in the saluting lines as its male friends were doing.  Its antics were so ludicrous that the crowd roared.
At the conclusion of the inspection the men were marched across to the Royal Agricultural Ground, where they were provided with temporary quarters.

The 7713 ton transport departed Sydney, NSW on May 22, 1916 and collected in Melbourne, Victoria the No 5 Company recruited from Victoria, South Australia & Tasmania consisting of a Headquarters and 2 Sections (8 officers & 173 men) (3 M.D.). 1 Section from Tasmania (3 officers & 76 O.Rs); also 1st Reinforcements for No 5 Company (17 men from Vic. & 8 men Tas.)  The ship departed on May 25, 1916 for Adelaide, S.A. to collect one Section of 3 officers & 76 O.Rs with 1st Reinforcements of 8 O.Rs.

Docking at Fremantle, W.A. on June 1, 1916 No 6 Company recruited from W.A. of 14 officers and 325 O.Rs along with 1st Reinforcements of 1 Officer & 32 O.Rs embarked and Warilda departed the same day for the European theatre.

Durban, South Africa was reached on June 16, 1916 and Cape Town on June 21, 1916 while St Vincent completed the African ports of call on July 7, 1916.  Discipline was fairly good except at intermediate ports where soldiers going Absent Without Leave caused concern.  The fifty-eight day voyage experienced remarkable pleasant weather and terminated at Plymouth, England on July 18, 1916.  Four, Five and Six Companies comprising of 1064 officers and other ranks were detrained to Amesbury and Tidworth to begin training for the front.

Gordon proceeded overseas to France on 29 August 1916 and marched in to the 2nd Australian Divisional Base Depot on 30 August and was attached to the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company (1ATC) on 25 September.

He was attached to the Australian Electrical and Mechanical Mining and Boring Company (AEMMBC) on 23 January 1917.

He reported sick on 1 March and was admitted to the 15th Casualty Clearing Station at Ypres with broncho-pneumonia.  He was evacuated to England from Boulogne on board Hospital Ship Newhaven on 13 March suffering lobar pneumonia and was admitted to Horton County of London War Hospital at Epsom on the same day.  The diagnosis was changed to influenza.

Gordon marched in to No.2 Australian Command Depot at Weymouth on 28 April and marched out to the Drafting Depot at Perham Downs on 26 May.

He was transferred to and taken on strength of the Permanent Cadre of the Overseas Training Brigade at Tidworth on 7 November.

Gordon again proceeded overseas to France from Longbridge Deverill on 15 March 1918 and marched in to the Australian General Base Depot at Rouelles on 16 March, marching out to rejoin 1ATC on 19 March.

He was taken on strength of 1ATC from the attachment to the AEMMBC on 19 April 1918.

On 28 December 1918 he attended the Corps P&RT School, rejoining his unit on 12 January 1919.  He enjoyed some leave from France from 23 January to 6 February.  On 14 February he was detained to carry documents to France, rejoining his unit on 18 February.  He reported sick on 21 February and was hospitalised until 28 February.

Gordon was a member of 1ATC from about August 1916 until his return to Australia.  In that period he would have worked at Hill 60 in the preparations for the Battle of Messines Ridge.  He also most likely worked on the digging of the Catacombs at Hill 63.

He may have been involved with operations on the Hindenberg Line in September 1918 when 20 members of 1 & 2ATCs where decorated.  He may also have worked on the construction of the Hooge Crater dugouts.

The Australian war photographer Captain Frank Hurley visited the Hooge Crater dugouts three days before the Battle of Menin Road and described the conditions he found:
"It is a wretched job as they are working 25 feet below the surface level and most of the time knee deep in mud, which they jocularly term ‘hero juice’ on account of it percolating through tiers and tiers of buried corpses.  Most of the men are miners and they are applying their knowledge to supreme advantage whilst the Boche shells whiz and burst around them."
(Damien Finlayson ‘Crumps and Camouflets’, page 241 )

Gordon left France on 6 May for return to Australia. 
There were 55 Australian Tunnellers on board ‘Boorara’ when she left South Hampton on 6 July 1919 for the journey home.  He disembarked in Sydney on 28 August and underwent a medical examination at the Domain Anzac Breakfast in Sydney where it was recorded that he had no disability due to, or aggravated by, his war service. He declared he was fit and well.

Gordon St Clair was discharged from the A.I.F. in Sydney on 12 October 1919, entitled to wear the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. 

Gordon married Ruby Letitia Harrison in 1922.
The Sydney Morning Herald - NSW - Saturday 23 December 1922:
ST. CLAIR - HARRISON.- November 27, 1922, at St. Clement's Church, Mosman, by Rev. C. Yarrington, Gordon, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. J. St. Clair, to Ruby, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Harrison, Clifton Gardens

ST. CLAIR.- January 11, 1928, at "Boram", Kenneth-street, Longueville, to Mr. and Mrs. Gordon St. Clair – a daughter.

Past members of the Australian Electrical & Mechanical Mining & Boring Company and Tunnelling Companies gathered on or about Anzac Day for a reunion luncheon.  Gordon St Clair first appears on the list in 1934 giving his address as 58 Kenneth Street, Longueville.  In 1968 his address is changed to Unit 42, 6 Wyargine Street, Mosman.

The Electoral Roll for the years 1934/1943/54 record Gordon, a merchant, and Ruby Letitia, home duties as residing at 58 Merchant Street, Lane Cove.  During that period his brother Vivian, an engineer, and his wife Evelyn Millicent were living at 28 Finlayson Street, Lane Cove.

WWII - N173027 Corporal Gordon St Clair of Longueville
8th Battalion, Volunteer Defence Corps

enlisted on 9 April 1942
discharged on 12 September 1045

The Sydney Morning Herald - NSW - Saturday 28 June 1947:
JOHNSTON- ST CLAIR - The Engagement is announced of Beverley youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs Gordon St Clair of Longueville to Warwick eldest son of Mr and Mrs J Stanley Johnston of Longueville

The West Australian - WA - Wednesday 4 February 1953:
They Are Engaged
HANNA - ST CLAIR - The Engagement is announced of Valmai Isabelle, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Gordon St Clair, of Longueville, N.S.W., to Lieutenant Commander Jack Langford Hanna, R.A.N., eldest son of Mrs H. G. Hanna, and the late Mr. Langford Hanna, of Katanning, W.A.

By 1963 Gordon has retired and the couple are living at 42/6 Wyargine Street Mosman. Ruby died in 1976. Gordon continued to live at the Wyargine Street address.

31st May 1982 Gordon St Clair died.

The Sydney Morning Herald - NSW - Wednesday 2 June 1982:
ST CLAIR, Gordon—May 31, 1982, at home, Mosman, dearly loved husband of Ruby Letitia (deceased), loved father of Valma and Beverley, and grandfather and great-grandfather of their families, aged 95 years.
ST CLAIR—The relatives and friends of the late Mr GORDON ST CLAIR, of Mosman, are invited to attend his funeral service, to be held in the chapel of the Northern Suburbs Crematorium tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 9.40 o’clock.
Please meet at the crematorium.   By request no flowers.

Submitted by Julianne T Ryan, courtesy of Donna Baldey.  27/03/2017. Lest we forget.
(Thankyou Donna for all your research).