Stanley Bryan (Bunty) HOLMES

HOLMES, Stanley Bryan

Service Number: SX8133
Enlisted: 6 July 1940, Wayville, South Australia
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Peterborough, South Australia, 7 November 1917
Home Town: Burra, Goyder, South Australia
Schooling: Peterborough, South Australia
Occupation: Clerk (later Goldsborough Mort country rep)
Died: Natural causes (stomach cancer), Adelaide, South Australia, 8 July 2002, aged 84 years
Cemetery: Coromandel Valley Cemetery, S.A.
Memorials: Minnipa War Memorial Oval Arch Gates, Peterborough St Peter's Anglican Church Roll of Honour WW2, Peterborough War Memorial
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World War 2 Service

6 Jul 1940: Enlisted 2nd AIF WW 2, Private, SN SX8133, Wayville, South Australia
7 Jul 1940: Involvement 2nd AIF WW 2, Private, SN SX8133
26 Nov 1945: Discharged 2nd AIF WW 2, Sergeant, SN SX8133, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Date unknown: Involvement

Help us honour Stanley Bryan Holmes's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Kaye Lee

Bryan was born in the bustling mid north town of Peterborough, South Australia. He was named after his uncle, Stanley Halliday who was injured in World War I. His father William, worked in the railways. Bryan and his older brother Ralph both attended the Peterborough Primary School, gaining his Qualifying Certificate in 1929.

Through a strong friendship with Lance Taplin, Bryan joined a Stock and Station agency, Goldsborough Mort and Company in 1932 aged 15 and a half. Bryan learnt to refine his shooting skills on the Taplin farm, especially after the two boys were roundly reprimanded for shooting and spoiling the meat and skins of rabbits by using heart shots. Subsequent eye shots resulted in increased skin money to purchase ammunition. While Bryan owned and rode an Indian motor bike (frequently with a galah called Cocky on his shoulder) technically he could not have a licence until he turned 16. This was posted to him after his birthday so he could then legally drive the company car and his own motor bike. His starting pay was $80 per year, paid monthly. Working days were finished when all the tasks were done, not when the clock indicated. Long days and an aptitude for figures meant Bryan was promoted and transferred to Jamestown aged 17. Unfortunately the extra $200 was consumed by board.

In 1937 Bryan was transferred to Minnipa where soldier settlers struggled through the depression, droughts and low stock prices. The ironically called Farmer’s Assistance Board foreclosed on many farmers who were forced to load up drays and head for Queensland with their families and meagre goods. For the stoic ones who remained, Bryan would be ‘creative’ with the books, tailoring repayments to support the struggling families. While managing the books Bryan was also involved in up to 5 sales a week, loading and unloading sheep to rail trucks and conducting Off Shear Sales. Food and sleep was a minor consideration.

With the outbreak of war in 1939, the Company quickly became short staffed. Bryan’s West Coast Supervisor asked him to delay enlisting and temporarily transfer to Burra, which he did. He finally enlisted from there in1940.

Bryan’s early training was held in the Motor Pavilion at the Wayville Showgrounds, where he was alphabetically allocated the number SX8133. Training also was at Woodside in the Adelaide Hills. It was not until these raw recruits arrived on the ship Stratheden in Egypt that Bryan became part of the 2/48th Battalion and the 9th Division; eventually becoming one of the now highly respected Rats of Tobruk.

Highly respected and admired Brigadier Moreshead was in charge of the 9th division. His decree that the troops would not be prisoners at Tobruk, instead would claim ‘No Man’s Land’. Through Italian POWs the soldiers learnt that the German troops ‘encouraged’ the building of stone cairns to show their allies were penetrating the area. Typically this became a competition for the Rats to find and dismantle any such cairns! The constant sand storms could contribute to soldiers being disoriented. One incident almost had Bryan’s group heading towards what was thought to be our tanks, however Bryan recognised the sound of the German machine and the group fortuitously deviated.

One of Moreshead’s initiatives was to take compass bearing on the artillery gun flashes at night. These bearings were then collated and sent back to the artillery. Called ‘Flash Spotting’, when there was action the Australian artillery could then concentrate on these flash points to stop them firing.

Morehead was the only Brigadier the troops ‘Ho Hoed’ instead of saluting, such was the high regard in which he was held. Back in Australia when Moreshead was promoted from the Division the troops threatened to ‘Eyes Left’ instead of ‘Eyes Right’ to their new Brigadier. However they were finally dissuaded because Les Morehead would be there on the day. After the Parade, Moreshead joined his men at a race meeting, joining them in “Ho Hoing’ the winner as the horse came down the straight. He was a true hero to those men in his command.

Bryan’s biggest frustration was landing on Red Beach in New Guinea via Landing Craft Infantry. Just as his craft hit the beach a lone Japanese fighter bomber strafed the troops, catching those to the left. Bryan was one to the right who had a little protection, however his carefully packed new jungle boots were in his rucksack, riddled with shrapnel. The overspray embedded in his shoulder, resulted in an unwelcome hospital visit – short lived as Bryan discharged himself. The many lumps were a source of fascination for his children as the story was recounted and the many lumps under the skin tenderly felt!

Being unmarried and no dependants, Bryan was one of the last to be discharged arriving back in Adelaide on the 26th November, 1945.Coincidentally this was the date four years later when his first daughter was born. On the train trip back though the Adelaide Hills a compatriot threw his gear out as the train passed through the Coromandel Station near Blackwood. Liking the look of the area, Bryan eventually bought and his house built in the area. Of course, post war there were bureaucratic restrictions on the size of the house and number of rooms so Bryan’s solution was to part built the house to allow for an extension of extra bedrooms. A strange restriction to save wood was to limit the overhang of the house eaves. This meant that builders were forced to cut the overhang and waste the wood!

Throughout the war Bryan corresponded with Eva Cummings, who lived on a farm out of Peterborough called Dowd’s Hill. Although he had met her only once while she was doing her nursing training, he proposed to her on his return and they married on the farm on the 23rd February 1946. Bryan also returned to work with Goldsborough Mort until after their takeover by Elder Smith. He then became the paymaster at the Queen Victoria Hospital until his retirement.