Albert Henry STEWART DCM

STEWART, Albert Henry

Service Numbers: 935, Commissioned Officer
Enlisted: 20 February 1915, D Company 27th Battalion Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 7th Light Trench Mortar Battery
Born: Dundalk, Ireland, 20 April 1896
Home Town: Plympton, City of West Torrens, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Fitter
Died: Adelaide, South Australia, 8 May 1941, aged 45 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Edwardstown District WW1 Roll of Honor, Glenelg and District WW1 & WW2 Honour Board, Marion District Roll of Honour WW1, Plympton District Roll of Honor
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World War 1 Service

20 Feb 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 935, 27th Infantry Battalion, D Company 27th Battalion Adelaide, South Australia
31 May 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 935, 27th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '15' embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: HMAT Geelong embarkation_ship_number: A2 public_note: ''
12 Sep 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 935, 27th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
9 Feb 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Sergeant, 27th Infantry Battalion, per service record
19 Apr 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 935, 7th Light Trench Mortar Battery, Battle for Pozières
19 Apr 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Sergeant, 7th Light Trench Mortar Battery, per service record
2 Sep 1916: Honoured Distinguished Conduct Medal, Battle for Pozières , Gazetted 2 Sep 1916 - for actions 4 August 1916
5 Nov 1916: Wounded AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 935, 7th Light Trench Mortar Battery, Flers/Gueudecourt, Severe Gunshot wound to shoulder evacuated to 5 Field Ambulance
11 Mar 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 935, 7th Light Trench Mortar Battery, German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages
30 Nov 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 7th Light Trench Mortar Battery, Graduated from No.4 Officer Cadet School Oxford UK
12 Apr 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, SN Commissioned Officer, 7th Light Trench Mortar Battery, "Peaceful Penetration - Low-Cost, High-Gain Tactics on the Western Front"
5 Aug 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Lieutenant, SN 935

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Biography

935 Albert Henry STEWART (1896-1941)

Albert Henry Stewart was born in Dundaers Ireland on 20 April 1896.  His mother Mrs Jane Stewart,  is listed as his NOK in his enlistment papers, but no detail pertaining to his father was recorded.   

At enlistment in January 1915, he was not yet 19 yo and so 'underage'. His mother's written consent to his enlistment is recorded. 

Allocated to the 27th Battalion, then forming as SA's second infantry Battalion, Albert trained and subsequently embarked with the Battalion on HMAT Geelong from Port Adelaide on 31 May 1915.

The Battalion has a brief period of further training before embarking at Alexandria to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, Gallipoli, on 4 September 1915.

The 2nd Division arrived after the last significant Allied 'push' to expand the beachhead, and with its failure they settled in to defend their modest footprint on Turkish territory.  Allied Commanders decided to evacuate and on 19 December 1915, they successfully carried out one of the most difficult operations in the military repetoire; to break contact and withdraw undetected.

Albert and his colleagues disembarked Alexandria from Mudros, on 10 January 1916 as part of the general Gallipoli evacuation.  The AIF was undergoing a massive re-organisation as they prepared to go to the Western Front.  Albert was promoted to rank of Temporary Sergeant at Ismalia, on 9 February 1916.

The 2nd Division was embarked at Alexandria and proceeded to join the British Expeditionary Force on 15 March 1916, via Marseilles, and then a long slow journey by rail, to what was known as 'The Nursery'; a relatively quiet sector of the Front around Armentieres on the French  / Belgian border, where new troops were introduced to and 'conditioned' for the Trench Warfare environment of the Western Front.  As part of this preparation, Albert was attached to 7th Brigade Headquarters at Armentieres, on 7 April 1916 before being transferrred to the newly formed 7th Brigade Light Trench Mortar Battery (/explore/units/466) on 19 April 1916.

Each of the Australian Divisions at the Front (1st,2nd,4th and including the newly raised 5th Division) passed through 'The Nursery'.  All but the 5th were then sent south to the Somme, where the British were mustering for 'The Big Push' - the Somme offensive.

The Australians were committed to the right or southern flank of the Offensive; their objective was the ruins of the small village of Pozieres (/explore/campaigns/5).

Although ultimately successful, its capture was achieved at fearful cost; over 25,000 casualties in just five weeks, of whom over 5,000 were killed.

Albert distinguised himself in this battle.  As the Sergeant of the Battery, his job was re-supply, particularly of ammunition.  He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for conspicuous gallantry in action. 'He kept the trench mortars supplied with ammunition' during an attack at Pozieres. 'By this fine example and pluck he got the carriers through under very heave fire'.

The fighting continued to the north around Mouquet Farm until late September.  The 2nd Division then travelled north to Belgium during October but returned to the Somme to the vicinity of Flers / Guedecourt (/explore/campaigns/24) later that month.  There the Australians endured the coldest winter in living memory and undertook a series of attacks.

Albert was seriously wounded on the 5th November during the 7th Brigade attack on 'The Maze'.  He was evacuated via the 5th Field Ambulance, then transferred to the 36th Casualty Clearing Station.  His wound was described as 'gun shot wound, left shoulder - severe'.  This resulted in him being classified as a 'Blighty'; to be evacuated to the UK for treatment.  Initially sent to the 6th General Hospital, Rouen, on 6 November 1916, he was then embarked from Rouen on HS 'Western Australia' and proceeded to England on 8 November 1916.

He was initially admitted to 2nd Southern General Hospital at Bristol on 9 November 1916 then transferred to 2nd Auxiliary Hospital southall, on 15 November 1916 for surgery and rehabilitation.

Two months later he was ready to return to the Front, via Folkestone on on the SS 'Victoria', on the 15 February 1917, arriving at the 2nd Australian Divisional Base Depot, Etaples the next day. He rejoined the 27th Battalion in the field on 28 February 1917 to be detached back to the 7th Brigade Light Trench Mortar Battery and taken on strength.

A fortnight later he was wounded again, although not as severely.  Admitted to 5th Field Ambulance, 11 March 1917, he was transferred to the 49th Casualty Clearing Station (gun shot wound, back) where he was held until discharged to duty on 24 March 1917.  He  rejoined his unit from hospital on 28 March 1917.

Over the next few months the 7th Brigade was involved in the Battles of the Outpost Villages (/explore/campaigns/21), culminating in the Second Battle for Bullecourt (/explore/campaigns/6), where the 2nd Division including the 7th Brigade, were the first Division committed to the attack on the formidable Bullecourt defences. It was in effect the tail end of the ill-fated British Arras Offensive.

Then, the focus for the AIF shifted north to Belgium, following the 3rd and 4th Division's success at Messines in June.  Just as the next phase began to unfold, Albert's life took a differrent turn.

Albert had been identified as an office candidate and was despatched to England to undertake a Commissioning course at No 4 Officers Cadet Training Battalion, Oxford on 10 August 1917.  He graduated and was appointed 2nd Lieutenant on 30 November 1917, and posted to General Infantry Reinforcements.

He proceeded to France through Southampton on 14 December 1917 to the Australian General Base Depot, Le Havre.  He was taken on strength on Christmas Day and seconded for duty with the 7th Australian Light Trench Mortar Battery, before being sent on a Mortar Officers course at the 10th Corps Light Trench Mortar School for instruction on 23 February 1918.  He was retained on secondment presumably as an instructor. He was promoted to rank of Lieutenant on 12 April 1918.

The AIF was by that point engaged in the stemming of the German Spring Offensive (/explore/campaigns/80), an all out attempt to push the Allies back and sever the supply lines from the Channel Ports.  The Allied defence was ultimately successful due in no small part to the efforts of t he Australian Divisions which had been broken up in Brigade groupings and used to 'plug gaps' in the British 5th Army line.  Huberteurne Dernancourt Villers Bretonneux and further north at Hazebrouk were all key battles in this period.  The 7th Brigade were committed around 

Thereafter followed a phase known as 'Peaceful Penetration' (/explore/campaigns/31) and the 7th Brigade found itself deployed east of Villers Brettonuex as this phase was succeeded by the great Allied Offensive of 8th August and the opening of 'The Last Hundred Days' (/explore/campaigns/11) of the War. 

Albert was granted leave to the UK on 11 October 1918.  By that point the AIF was out of the line and its war had effectively ended although none knew that at the time.  He rejoined unit from leave, 27 October 1918.

However, it appears there was some unwanted baggage as a result of his leave in the UK.  Albert was admitted to the 7th Australian Field Ambulance, 9 November 1918, and transferred to Casualty Clearing Station diagnosed with gonorrhoeal orchitis.  He proceeded to England and admitted to 1st Australian Dermatological Hospital, Bulford until discharged to Training Depot, Parkhouse, on 26 March 1919.  

He commenced his return to Australia on 13 April 1919 and disembarked Adelaide, on 6 June 1919. His appointment was terminated on 5 August 1919.

We know nothing of his life from this point other than a date of death, on 8 May 1941, at the age of 45 years.

"DISTINGUISHED CONDUCT MEDAL.

Sergeant A. H. Stewart, D.C.M., is the second eldest son of Mr. R. T. Stewart, Plympton. He is 20 years of age, and went through the Gallipoli campaign. Sergeant Stewart also served in Egypt. He has a brother with the troops in France, and another brother, quartermaster-sergeant Stewart has returned home wounded. Sergeant Stewart won the D.C.M. for keeping the trench mortars supplied with ammunition. He set a fine example by his pluck and skill." - from the Adelaide Chronicle 14 Oct 1916 (nla.gov.au)

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