BOASE, Maxwell Chapman
|5 July 1940, Adelaide, South Australia
|2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
|Millicent, South Australia, 25 April 1915
|Millicent, Wattle Range, South Australia
|Millicent Primary & High Schools, South Australia
|Killed in Action, Egypt, 26 October 1942, aged 27 years
El Alamein War Cemetery
|Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Kadina Memorial High School WW2 Honour Roll, Millicent War Memorial
World War 2 Service
|5 Jul 1940:
|Enlisted Private, SX7832, Adelaide, South Australia
|5 Jul 1940:
|Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, SX7832, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
|26 Oct 1942:
|Involvement Private, SX7832, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion, El Alamein
‘A cross for a day, but a crown for aye.’
Maxwell Chapman was born at Millicent in the south-east of South Australia on the 25th April, 1915 to Frederick William and Alma Beryl Boase. He was one of three children, with siblings being younger brother Bruce and older sister, Una with all three having the middle name of Chapman.
The family was particularly community minded and very active in their local Methodist Church where Alma and all three children shared their singing talents. Initially Max and Bruce sang together at such events as the annual strawberry fete but later formed a quartet with Clinton Bellinger and Will Bowering. (Will, SX15461 later enlisted with the 2/3rd Machine Gun battalion.) Una and Max both held roles in productions by the Amateur Operatic Society including ‘The Mandarin’ in ‘32, where Max was Captain Coldsteel of the Royal Marines and Una was Nanette, the leading lady. The following year ‘Homeward Bound’ was the next production, for which his mother designing the costumes and choreography, had Max in the role of Adjutant and Sergeant Browne.
Max was a popular student and past scholar of Millicent High School, where, again his solo singing became a feature of the Annual Speech night as in 1931 where he sang the well-received ‘Somewhere a voice is Calling’ and the group burlesque in which he was part. With Millicent High being divided into two Houses (Mowbray and DeGaris, after local identities) in 1932, Una was elected Captain of DeGaris House and Max as Committee man for Mowbray House as well as tennis captain with his brother Bruce as vice-captain. Max was also a regular attendee at the Old Scholar’s meetings, frequently reported as proposing the well-received toast of "the Millicent High School and Present Scholars". Max and fellow past students who had formed the quartet (Max, Bruce, Clinton Bellinger and Will Bowering) supported the Millicent High School at end of year formalities, as well as for fundraising events sponsored by the local radio station for the Bush Fire Relief Fund in ’39.
With the Methodist Young Men’s League, Max learnt camping and leadership skills which were to come to the fore in later years. He was also an active member of the Methodist Church based inaugural ‘Order of the Knights’ where he held the role of Knight Commander, coordinating improvements to the church property.
Post school, Max joined the staff of the local De Garis Sons & Co. Ltd. Stock and station agents based in Millicent. Unfortunately, in carrying out his work in November ’37, a bale of wool fell, striking him on the head. The pressure of the bleed caused him to have seizures and he was transferred to the Adelaide Hospital. The treatment at that time was to cut the skull, thus relieving the pressure. Eventually a metal plate was inserted. The local South Eastern Times continued to report on his progress, which became quite concerning by July ’38 with the report that ‘Mr Max Boase, of Millicent, who is under special treatment at the Adelaide hospital, are not very reassuring. He may undergo a delicate operation on Saturday. Mrs F. W. Boase is living in Adelaide during her son's illness.’ However, by the end of that month his brother, Bruce, through the newspaper shared the positive news that he had received a telegram from his mother: "Max operated on Wednesday. Condition good." Finally, after a three month stay in the Adelaide Hospital, Max was able to return home to recuperate and was making “good progress”. Reports continued to be shared as Max’s condition fluctuated for twelve months and into ’38.
In a huge celebration in February ’39, Max and Bruce acted as ushers for their sister, Una’s wedding to Alan Shepherd. That same month the popular quartet performed its last, when Bill Bowering was transferred through his work from Millicent to Mount Gambier. It heralded a change to life as Max had come to enjoy.
With the outbreak of WWII, Max, who had been living with his father at Meningie, enlisted on the 5th July 1940 in Adelaide, just prior to his 25th birthday. He was allocated the number SX7832 being assigned to the newly formed 2/48th Battalion. Clyde Edward Arblaster also enlisted on the same day, becoming SX7945 in the same Battalion. Their lives would be forever linked. Clyde was killed in action a month prior to Max.
Max andf Clyde’s initial days were spent in the cold of the Pavilions, now part of the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds before the new enlistees headed to Woodside for their preliminary training. Pre-embarkation leave gave Max time with his mother at Nairne and father in Meningie, before the 2/48th contingent embarked on the Stratheden for the Middle East, on the 7th November 1940, arriving on the 19th December 1940 with the Battalion completing a few months training in Cyrenaica.
Max’s leadership skills were recognised in March ’41 with his promotion to A/Corporal. By the start of the next month, the 2/48th were in Tobruk where the dust, flies, heat, minimal water supplies and constant bombardment were quite a challenge to new enlistees. They were to become the famed Rats of Tobruk.
Max, however, continued to keep contact with those at home who had supported him and other soldiers. The Country Women’s Association tabled a letter of thanks from Lance-Corporal Max in appreciation of the comforts he had received. By July, Max was hit by dysentery and hospitalised. Enteritis then struck in January ’42 causing an extended hospital stay.
By November ’41 Max had risen to become A/Corporal, until two months later he became ill with a further severe case of dysentery then enteritis which affected him for four months and caused him to revert to being a Private. It was some time before he was able to re-join the 2/48th battalion but soon after, sustained wound to his left hand in June leading to time in a New Zealand then Scottish based hospitals. By August Max sustained an accidentally inflicted gunshot to his hand. Soon after his return to the 2/48th Just a month later aged 27, Max was killed in action during the horrific fighting that erupted over the 25th and 26th October, 1942. Anecdotally, word came through that Max had crawled out to bring in a wounded mate when he was fatally shot.
Conditions at that time were ever-changing and the fighting continuous. Mongomery had ordered the 9th Battalion to attack northward. The subsequent action between October 25th and 26th 1942 meant that the survivors of an horrific explosion and ensuing fighting were not always able to immediately retrieve their fallen men. 27-year-old Max was killed under these conditions.
John Glenn in ‘Tobruk to Tarakan’ describes the carnage caused by the chance hit by an enemy shell on a truck loaded with mines.
‘An ear shattering explosion dwarfed the sound of the guns into insignificance. Seven other trucks, all ladened with mines, had been set off. The whole area became a ghastly raging inferno. As trucks burned and exploded a great wall of fire shot into the sky. The gun flashes seemed dimmed; night was turned into day. The concussion was terrific. ‘ He added:
‘The attack continued, however, without pause…it was only after hard fighting, with heavy casualties on both sides, that they were able to consolidate on their objective. The troops had never been more tired.. The 2/48th had stirred up a real hornets’ nest; from first light until nine o’clock the enemy turned all their fury on the Trig area, with particularly heavy fire on 29 itself, hiding the position in a cloud of dust and smoke.’ A comment was later made that about the heavy casualties. History later recorded these as being close to 6,000.
Initially, Max was buried in the Military Cemetery of Tel El Eisa. He was finally re-buried in the El Alamein War Cemetery Plot 16 Row G Grave 8. And rests with others from the 2/48th Battalion, 25-year-old Private E.V Lipson SX6913, 26-year-old Corporal A.H. Peters Sx3149 and 35-year-old Private A.J. Clarke SX4129 Max’s parents chose the tribute ‘A cross for a day, but a crown for aye.’
Back home, his death was reported in the Chronicle in December included a list of the other men, predominantly from the 2/48th Battalion, killed in action. They included SX7832 Pte. Max C. Boase. 2/48th Millicent; SX6896 Pte. Lance Chapman, 2/48th, North Moonta; SX5226 Pte. Charlie L. K. Cock, 2/43rd Solomontown; SX7260 Sgt. Charles Fraser. 2/48th Norwood; SX10466 Pte. E. L Freeman, 2/43rd, Calca; SX8651 Sgt. Lindsay R. Goode, 2/48th Malvern; SX13580 Pte. Ronald A. Grist. Inf., Port Noarlunga; SX8587 Pte. George W. Haywood, 2/48th Mount Compass: SX7249 Cpl. J. Hinson, 2/43rd ., Plympton: SX310 Sgt. Alfred W G. Miller, 2/48th Ponde; SX9488 Pte. Eric L. Montgomerie, 2/48th., Edwardstown; SX7375 Sgt Charles E. Plummer, 2/48th College Park; SX7176 A-Cpl. William C. Quinn, 2/48th Bordertown; SX8113 Pte. Michael N. Riley, 2/48th Burnside; SX7298 Cpl. Harold Sandercock, 2/48th Maitland; SX7732 Ste. Clem H. Schulz, 2/48th Yorketown; SX12924 Pte. Richard Speck, 48th Blanchetown; SX849J Pte. Arthur G. Wilson, 2/48th Glanville.
A memorial service was held for Max and Captain Hemmings, locals killed in action, by the Millicent Community singers in November. This was followed by At the final year assembly in ‘42, Millicent High paid tribute to Max. The South Eastern Times reported that ‘The old scholars' association had suffered greatly by the loss of Max Boase, who had paid the supreme sacrifice in Egypt. A memorial service had been held at the school in his honor.’
In 1943, Max’s younger brother, Bruce Chapman Boase enlisted on the 29th April, becoming SN140157.
Max continued to be remembered as peace returned. A wreath in his memory was laid during the ’46 Anzac service at the Millicent soldier’s memorial. Then, with peace being declared, Max’s medals, the 1939/45 Star, African Star, Burma Medal, Defence Medal and Australian Service Medal were sent to his family in November, 1950.
Each year the family remembered Max.
Advertiser November 1942, BOASE. —Killed In action, Egypt, Max-well Chapman, aged 27 years, elder and beloved son Mr. and Mrs. Fred Boase, Millicent (at present residing at Meningie and Nairne respectively), and loving brother of Una and Bruce. BOASE.—A tribute to the memory of our dear friend, Cpl. Max Boase, killed in action, Egypt. His duty nobly done. —Ever remembered by Mr.-Mrs. F. L. Day and family, Nairne.
Advertiser Saturday 23 October 1943, BOASE. —In sad but loving memory of our dear son and brother, Max, killed in action at El Alamein, Oct. 25-26, 1942. — Remembered by father, mother, Una and Bruce.
Thereafter, the family placed the same tribute: BOASE. —In loving memory of Max, killed in action at El Alamein, October 25/26, 1942. —Inserted by his parents, brother and sister.
Researched and written by Kaye Lee, daughter of Bryan Holmes, SX8133, 2/48th Battalion.
Submitted 29 August 2021 by Kaye Lee
Maxwell Chapman BOASE was born on 25th April, 1915 at Millicent, South Australia
His parents were Frederick William BOASE & Alma Beryl CHAPMAN