David Edward CRAVEN

CRAVEN, David Edward

Service Number: SX33987
Enlisted: 15 January 1945, Wayville, SA
Last Rank: Captain
Last Unit: 20th Field Ambulance
Born: Adelaide, South Australia, 23 January 1921
Home Town: Medindie, Walkerville, South Australia
Schooling: St Peter's College, Adelaide, South Australia
Occupation: Medical Practitioner
Died: 3 September 2007, aged 86 years, cause of death not yet discovered, place of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
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World War 2 Service

15 Jan 1945: Involvement Captain, SN SX33987
15 Jan 1945: Enlisted Wayville, SA
31 Oct 1947: Discharged 2nd AIF WW 2, Captain, 20th Field Ambulance

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Biography contributed by Annette Summers


1921 - 2007

David Edward Craven was born on January 23rd 1921 in Adelaide, South Australia. He was the eldest of two children of John David Craven, Managing Director of the family department store, J Craven & Co and Kathleen Mary, nee Lucas. His mother was the daughter of Sir Edward Lucas, Agent-General for South Australia in London 1918-1925. Both parents and grandfather played influential and encouraging roles in Craven’s life. His sister Natalie was a driver in the Army during WW2.    He attended Queens School in North Adelaide and St Peter’s College.  He was a House Prefect in Hawkes House 1938 and received school colours for rowing in 1938. It was during this time he made friendships that lasted throughout his life. He commenced medicine at the University of Adelaide in 1939.  He graduated MB BS in 1943 and was awarded the Dr Charles Gosse Medal for Ophthalmology.

Whilst still at University Craven enlisted on 21st April 1941 at Prospect South Australia, as a private soldier. Like many of his university colleagues he remained in Adelaide until the completion of his medical degree. He left for Larrimah, Northern Territory at the rank of captain.  It was here that the 8th Australian Staging Camp, was set up in Larrimah for troops making the journey by road from Adelaide before transferring onto rail for the rest of the journey to Darwin.  He was the medical officer attached to No. 45 Camp Hospital at Larrimah. In a light hearted recollection Craven recalls planting rows of vegetables around the perimeter of his tent.  Fresh vegetables were particularly difficult to access, in fact he never enjoyed the produce as the vegetables always disappeared as they were ready to pick. The next morning he would be greeted by smiling local children leaving no doubt as to the whereabouts of the crop. He was then posted to Japan with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. He was in Japan with Murray Elliott, John Skipper and Nigel Abbott.  Elliott recalls that in August 1946, whilst in Kure, Craven’s RAP caught fire, and although the local fire brigade was close by, their hose fittings did not fit the water hydrants attachments. Consequently a significant amount of the Australian Army Service Corps HQ burnt down. He was issued the 1939–1945 War Medal, the Australian Service Medal 1945-1976, the BCOF Japan Medal 1946–1952 and the Australian Defence Medal.

Once discharged Craven travelled to the United Kingdom and continued his medical studies at the West Middlesex Hospital, London.  Whilst in London he met Dilys Rees, and they married in 1950.  Dilys, also a doctor, was in the British Army during WW2 in the RAMC. Her first posting was in the New Forest area of England, where she travelled amongst the many units assembled prior to D Day providing medical care. She sailed to Ostend, in 1944, as the regimental medical officer to 183rd Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery, stationed in Antwerp. During the bitterly cold winter she shared a tent with Mary Churchill, Winston Churchill’s youngest daughter. She saw active service until the crossing of the Rhine by the allies in 1945.

Owing to his father’s ill health, Craven made the decision to return to Australia soon after their marriage.  They returned to Adelaide, on the Stratheden, in 1951, and Craven was invited to join the busy Port Adelaide medical practice of Dr Cherry and Partners .  He remained in general practice for twenty five years initially working at Port Casualty, St Vincent St, Port Adelaide. This was a very different era of general practice. Most general practitioners had consulting rooms or their surgery attached to or in their homes, and they were liable to be called at any time outside their regular consultation hours. Craven was also greatly involved in the establishment of Duncan House, Port Adelaide, the first purpose built rooms for medical practitioners and patients in South Australia.  Over these years he developed a strong attachment to the Port and to those people living and working there. He held a number of board and committee positions of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. He was a representative of the Faculty for other Associations including Ascertainment of Handicapped Children’s Committee and South Australian Faculty Preventative Medicine Committee. He was a Formation Member 1958, Board Member, Faculty Chairman, Censor and Provost 1968-1969, 1969-1970.  This time became a highlight of his medical career providing recognition from the College and peers and represented excellence in general practice.


Craven had two daughters, Sara and Gwynne, and was a proud grandparent of Jordan and Madeline. He had many interests and memberships of a variety of organisations.  These included golf, horse racing and a farm ‘Cambria’ in the Hindmarsh Valley. Cambria became a Poll Hereford stud and introduced a back-crossing programme joining Wiltshire Horn rams to Poll Merino ewes establishing the Wiltipoll sheep breed in South Australia. He was also a co-owner of the racehorse Yangtze which won the Caulfield Cup in 1964. He was acting president of Zoos SA. Craven retired from general practice in 1975, but continued a close association as a medical practitioner with the Port Adelaide Racing Club for many years. David Edward Craven died September 3, 2007 at North Adelaide. He was survived by his wife, who has since died, and his two daughters.


Blood, Sweat and Fears II: Medical Practitioners of South Australia on Active Service After World War 2 to Vietnam 1945-1975.

Summers, Swain, Jelly, Verco. Open Book Howden, Adelaide 2016

Uploaded by Annette Summers AO RFD