Howard Kenneth EASTICK

EASTICK, Howard Kenneth

Service Number: SX11090
Enlisted: 27 January 1941, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Hyde Park, South Australia, 7 November 1912
Home Town: Brighton, Holdfast Bay, South Australia
Schooling: Glenelg Primary School, South Australia
Occupation: Gardener
Died: Repatriation Hospital, Daw Park, South Australia, 17 August 1969, aged 56 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Brighton Glenelg District WW2 Honour Roll
Show Relationships

World War 2 Service

27 Jan 1941: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Private, SX11090, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
27 Jan 1941: Enlisted Australian Army (Post WW2), Adelaide, South Australia
27 Jan 1941: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (WW2) , Private, SX11090
25 Aug 1945: Discharged Australian Army (Post WW2)

Three Generations who Served.

Howard’s paternal grandfather, Charles Ambrose, had come to Australia from Yarmouth in England, having served in the Navy for over fifteen years and been a boatswain, until finally being discharged in Melbourne in 1874. He was also granted a ‘Queen’s pension’ for his service in the Crimean War. Charles then came to Adelaide where he became a railway employee. Charles and his wife, Jane had five sons and two daughters. Howard’s father, Bert Kenneth, was the third of the sons with his oldest brother, (Charles William) serving in WWI.
Bert married Mary with Howard Kenneth being their oldest son, born on the 7th November 1912, and carrying Bert’s middle name. He was one of six children with siblings including Coralie Harriet, Jesse Hamilton, John Charles (known as Jack) and Nancy. The children all attended the local Glenelg Primary School, with Howard later gaining employment as a gardener.
Howard enjoyed sport, but laid claim to a most remarkable achievement in cricket while playing with his Paringa Park team in ’31. Just days before his nineteenth birthday, Howard, ostensibly a slow medium-paced bowler, was handed the ball, the first time he had done so in a match. He took an incredible double hat trick – six wickets from consecutive balls. His initial two deliveries had been unremarkable before he unleashed five ‘clean bowls’, followed by a leg-before-wicket decision. One run was scored from his next delivery before the next batter, his eighth victim, was caught and bowled. Officials scrambled through past records to see if the feat had ever been previously achieved. It appeared this was a record for South Australia but had been achieved in Staffordshire, England in 1882, in Kent, England in 1902 then in 1917 in a match between two Canadian Forces teams. Remarkable, never-the-less.
With the outbreak of WWII, Howard was the third generation of his family to enlist, following his paternal grandfather and uncle. As a 28-year-old, he signed up on the 27th January, 1941 where he was given the number SX11090 and allocated to the 2/48th Battalion Reinforcements. His early training was in the mid-north area of Terowie for three months, as that terrain was the closest available to replicate conditions in the Middle East. He enjoyed a brief pre-embarkation leave before heading overseas on the Ile de France in April on his way to the Middle East. He arrived in May and immediately embarked on training at the Amiriya Camp before joining the ‘seasoned’ men in the 2/48th Battalion in July.
(Howard’s younger brother, John Charles, who worked as a boiler maker’s assistant, later also enlisted as an eighteen-year-old with the RAAF. He worked as a Flight Rigger with the Number 82 squadron, predominantly in Townsville, but later also served in New Guinea in November ’44.)
By October ‘42, Howard and his battalion were involved in the massive assault to take Trig 29. John Glenn in ‘Tobruk to Tarakan’ described that ‘the 2/48th had stirred up a real hornets’ nest’. ‘It was a busy time for the tired men. Little or no sleep could be had. A hot meal sent forward after dark was quickly swallowed. There was no time for yarning. Defences had to be improved, more digging and wiring done, and patrols sent out.’ On that night alone 9 of the Battalion were killed and 20 wounded in action. Of these 16 were from South Australia and the remainder from Western Australia. The conditions where ‘arrangements were made for mines, wire ammunition, food, water, overhead cover, sandbags, tools, anti-tank guns, and all the rest, and holding the present position while preparing to launch another attack. And while all this was being done, the battalion was subjected to murderous fire from artillery and mortars. It says much for the battle-drill of the battalion and supporting arms that everything worked out smoothly, going off without a hitch.’
Glenn described that time as the ‘bloodiest fighting in the history of the 2/48th Battalion’ with ‘only forty-one weary troops remaining in the field.’ It was the climax of the Alamein Battle. His final summing up was ‘Truly it can be said of these men, “They fought themselves and their enemy to a standstill until flesh and blood could stand no more, then they went on fighting.” ‘When next the sun drove away those shadows from the desert, death would have reaped a rich harvest of gallant men.’ This was all that remained of these proud Rats of Tobruk. In total 48 men from the 2/48th lost their lives in this battle. In added high praise about those who tended the wounded and collected those killed in action “It says much for them that not one man was missing in their search over the four thousand yards from Trig 29 to the Blockhouse, or in the attack of 3,600 yards to Ring Contour 25.” Howard was one of these severely wounded in both arms, his right leg, left side and back. It was an horrific battle for the proud and very brave 2/48th Battalion.
The events of that month created a turning point in Egypt. John Glenn attempted to capture the conditions. ‘They were the unsmiling eyes of men who have killed or tried to kill and have faced death in its most vicious forms. Theirs was the pride and sorrow of me who had endured too much. When all else was forgotten, they would remember Alamein and their mates who died there…. They had lived a lifetime in one night.’ The men survived being strafed by their own planes, witnessed their own trucks exploding and buried their own men. They also received the congratulations of Mongomery that ‘the part you have played is beyond all praise’.
The November ’42 issue of the Chronicle carried the names of those injured. The 2/48th Battalion was particularly affected. Jack headed the list. ‘Dangerously Wounded. — SX8280 Pte. J. H. Abraham, Inf.. Moonta Mines; SX7824 Pte. Cyril A. Braund. Pt. Victoria, Seriously Wounded.— SX12499 Lt. George J Butler, Henley Beach;(Later died of wounds in N.G.) Wounded In Action.— SX9092 Pte. John. W. P Digan. Adelaide; SX13636 Fte, Kenneth F. Goldner, Colonel Light Gardens; SX7502 Pte. Norman J. Leaney, Maylands; SX10090 A-Sgt. John G. Glenn, Victor Harbor; SX6865 Pte. Robert T. McLaren, Barmera; SX11802 Pte. Alan H Harradine. Adelaide; SX8628 Pte. Leonard Kader, Adelaide; SX7512 L-Sgt. A. R. Cross, Wallaroo Mines; SX14264 Pte. Harold M. Cates, Portland; SX11090 Pte. Howard K. Eastick, Brighton; SX12801 Fte. George C. Bradford, Col. Light Gdns.; SX7436 Pte. John D. Cox, Woodville; SX8595 Pte. Francis W. Botten, York; SX10848 Pte. Alfred C. Capper, Ovingham; SX6931 Pte. Oscar J. Aesche, Monarto; SX8910 Pte. Jack R. Cufley, Allenby Gardens; SX7866 Pte. Raymond A. W. Bloffwitch, Bowden.
The November issue of the Advertiser carried the additional news that Mr. and Mrs. Bert Eastick, of Adelaide road, Paringa Park, have been advised that their son Howard has been wounded in action in Egypt. He sailed for overseas in April 1941, and served for several months at Tobruk. His younger brother, Jack, is in the RAAF.’ Howard was treated in hospital but was unable to re-join his battalion until they were preparing to return to Australia in January ’43. The following month he was on the way home, via Melbourne.
Brief leave followed before his battalion prepared to face a very different enemy and conditions in the tropical New Guinea, training in Queensland. There, Howard first contracted malaria in May ’43 followed by an upper respiratory tract infection the following month. In between he took two days ‘unofficial’ leave and was fined pay for each day. However, by August ’43 he had arrived in Milne Bay.
Back home, many novel ways were being devised by locals to raise money for those serving in forward areas. In January ’43, six Adelaide dry-cleaning firms created a ‘Summer Girl’ Contest with each representative having her name and photo on a voting card and individual votes being a penny each. Miss Inez Bell was the representative for Miss Glenelg Dry Cleaners. She was to play a pivotal role in Howard’s life in the coming years.
Howard returned to Brisbane the following February, His health saw a return of malaria, and other infections including to his gums (gingivitis), a parasitic abdominal infection (amoebiasis) and nasal congestion (sinusitis) all culminating in a very high fever (Pyrexia of Unknown Origin). During April that year, Howard spent some time convalescing at Kapara. Unfortunately, by November his left knee became swollen and stiff, diagnosed as osteoarthritis traumatic effusion. Inevitably Howard was noted as being unable to march or to stand for extended times, all essential requirements in the army. He was however, adjudged to be capable to return to his civilian work as a gardener, with light duties. Much of ’45 was spent being treated at Wayville for a culmination of his war injuries and of his poor health until he was finally, officially discharged on the 25th August ’45 ‘in absentia’ and classified as medically unfit for duty. (His young brother, John was discharged in January the following year.)
On the day of his official discharge, Howard and Inez Ellen Bell, Miss Glenelg Dry Cleaners, announced their engagement. The two married on the 31st August the following year in the striking St Peter’s Church of England at Glenelg in an evening ceremony. They welcomed their first son in November ’47, then a second son, Graham William in December ’46 and Marlene Joy in November ’51.
Aged 56, Howard died on the 17th August ’69 in the Repatriation Hospital at Daw Park. Remarkably, his mother, Mary lived to be 93 and died almost fifteen years later, in April ’86. Inez also lived a long life and died on the 2nd of October, 2005 aged 82.
A plaque honouring Howard’s service is now in the Garden of Remembrance at Centennial Park.
Researched and written by Kaye Lee, daughter of Bryan Holmes SX8133, 2/48th Battalion.

Showing 1 of 1 story


NoK Bertie Eastick