John Stanley DURWARD

DURWARD, John Stanley

Service Number: S21747
Enlisted: 13 March 1941, Whyalla, South Australia
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 8 Port Operating Company
Born: Murraytown, South Australia, 7 November 1919
Home Town: Whyalla (Formerly Hummock's Hill), Whyalla, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Not yet discovered
Died: Natural causes (heart attack), Adelaide, South Australia, 22 February 2004, aged 84 years
Cemetery: Enfield Memorial Park, South Australia
Memorials: Murray Town Enlistments Memorial
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World War 2 Service

13 Mar 1941: Involvement Private, SN S21747, Homeland Defence - Militia and non deployed forces
13 Mar 1941: Enlisted Private, SN S21747, Whyalla, South Australia
13 Mar 1941: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Corporal, SN S21747
13 Mar 1946: Discharged Corporal, SN S21747, 8 Port Operating Company
13 Mar 1946: Discharged Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Corporal, SN S21747

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Biography contributed by Kenadee Ryan

John Stanley Durward: A Biography

John Stanley Durward was born to Sarah and Joseph Durward on the 7th November 1919 in Murraytown, South Australia. He went to Murraytown Area School in the Flinders Rangers but left when he was 13 to help build the Old Adelaide Freeway. His father owned the biggest herd of bullocks in South Australia, so the Australian Government commissioned them to use all of their bullock trailers to help build the Old Adelaide Freeway. John did this with his father and five brothers.

On the 14th March 1941, he enlisted for World War 2 (WW2) in Whyalla, South Australia. His service number was S21747. John Stanley Durward left for Loveday Detention Camp near Barmera South Australia, which was also known as Camp Nine, where he helped to keep the Italian, Japanese and German Prisoners Of War detained. After six months of duty in Camp 9, he was then moved to Christmas Island where another detention camp was held. After serving there for a while, he was then deployed to Port Moresby in New Guinea. John's platoon was in charge of all the American Ships that came into dock and deployed their American Marines, which he described as very loud. Before they set off for the jungles, John and some of his friends swam out to one of the American ships and stole some of their alcohol, which they had plenty. When they collected as much as they could carry, they swam back along the ship, so they would not get caught.

With his platoon of six other Australians and a group of American Marines, John helped to lead them down the Kokoda Trail; they were the second platoon. The first platoon that went down the trail were ambushed and most of them were killed by the Japanese. When John’s platoon went down the trail, he had to keep extra alert because the American Marines were so loud that the Japanese soldiers would pick them off like flies. After making it half way along the trail, they had to retreat because the American Marines were always so drunk and loud that the Japanese shot at them many times. To make sure the entire platoon did not get killed, they turned back.

While John’s platoon were heading back down the trail in the middle of the night, a New Guineans known as the Fuzzy Wuzzy or the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels helped them back to their camp so the Japanese troops would not ambush them. He lost many friends down that trail. After returning from the trail, he was deployed back to the Port and stayed there until 1946 when he was discharged. Throughout the war, he obtained a total of 8 medals, one of them for his bravery shown at the Kokoda Trail.

Sadly, on the 22nd February 2004, John Stanley Durward passed away from a heart attack, aged 84. He also suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease which the family learnt so much about his time in the war from his stories as he went back in time. Before Alzheimer’s, he never spoke of his time at war. Instead of his death being classed as natural causes, it was classed as war-related even though he left war decades ago. During the war, the Australian troops were all given tobacco to smoke away their boredom in swampy wet camps. Heart attacks were caused by smoking tobacco, so his death was classed as war-related. Now he is buried in Enfield Cemetery, South Australia. Some of his ashes were released at Mount Lofty Ranges, a place so special to him because that is where he spent his time helping build the Old Adelaide Freeway.