George STEWART

Poppy

STEWART, George

Service Number: 1813
Enlisted: 4 December 1914, Oaklands, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Parkside, South Australia, 13 April 1888
Home Town: Campbelltown, Campbelltown, South Australia
Schooling: Campbelltown Primary School
Occupation: Market Gardener
Died: Killed in Action (shellfire), Pozieres, France, 19 August 1916, aged 28 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Campbelltown Methodist Church WW1 Honour Roll, Campbelltown WW1 Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)
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World War 1 Service

4 Dec 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 1813, Oaklands, South Australia
1 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1813, 10th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
1 Apr 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 1813, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Port Lincoln, Adelaide
27 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1813, 10th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
23 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1813, 10th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières

My Great Uncle George

George Stewart was born in 1888, the fourth of eleven children (and the youngest surviving son) of George and Emily Stewart of Campbelltown in South Australia. My grandmother was the final and eleventh child and was adored by her big brother.

George worked as a gardener before the war, and enlisted in December 1914 as part of the initial rush for volunteers for the Australian Imperial Force. He had to wait to enlist however, because he was needed to help dig the well on the farm. He also went AWOL whilst in Morphettville Camp because he had to go back and help on the farm.

He joined up in the hope that it would prevent his older brothers from having to go to war.

After a period of training, George left Australia for Egypt with the 4th Reinforcements for the 10th Battalion in April 1915, and took part in the fighting in the Dardanelles. His reinforcement group was being ferried to the ANZAC positions on Gallipoli on 4 May 1915 when the minesweeper bringing them ashore came under Turkish fire: George Stewart was wounded in the arm and leg and was evacuated to Egypt to recover.

George eventually rejoined his battalion on Gallipoli in July 1915, and would have been among the troops kept in reserve during the 1st Division's costly attack at Lone Pine in on 6 August. He came down with jaundice in November, and was evacuated from the peninsula to recover in Malta; afterwards he contracted enteric fever and was hospitalised in Egypt for a second time.

It wasn't until July 1916 that George Stewart was fit enough to rejoin his battalion. It was thought that he would be sent home to Adelaide and he wrote to his family that this was likely. However, he soon wrote that the Army had changed its decision.

The Gallipoli campaign had come to an end, and the battalion was deployed to the main theatre of the war in France. In late July, it suffered heavy losses in the bitter fighting at Pozières, and the gains made them vulnerable to a concentrated German artillery bombardment, undoubtedly the worst the Australians experienced throughout their campaign on the Western Front.

The 10th Battalion filed into the line in preparation for a push towards the German stronghold at Mouquet Farm. Among the casualties was George Stewart, who was named missing after a costly and unsuccessful push towards the farm on 19 August. One eyewitness stated that he was in a shell hole with his platoon commander when German troops showered their position with hand grenades. The platoon commander had been wounded and George had been escorting him back behind the lines. Bomber Johnson reported that the shell hole was blown up. The report could not be confirmed, and his remains were never recovered.

In June 1917, a court of inquiry determined that Private George Stewart had been killed in action sometime between 19 and 23 August 1916.

The loss affected our family greatly. In 1925 they inserted a memorial notice in the local newspaper on the ninth anniversary of his death. It read:

Though his cheery voice is silent,
And we see his face no more;
Yet in our hearts his memory lingers,
Just as sweetly as before.

My grandmother missed her George until she died in 1999.

In 2000, my mother and I were the first members of the family to visit the Somme and we were able with the help of Charles Bean's histories to pinpoint the field in which George's remains must lie.

His name is on the Australian War Memorial's Wall of the Missing at Villiers-Bretonneaux.

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