Irvine Stanley OGILVIE

OGILVIE, Irvine Stanley

Service Number: SX7643
Enlisted: 3 July 1940, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Cleve, South Australia, 2 May 1917
Home Town: Booborowie, Goyder, South Australia
Schooling: Booborowie School, South Australia
Occupation: Station hand
Died: Killed in Action, New Guinea, 17 November 1943, aged 26 years
Cemetery: Lae War Cemetery
Plot BB Row C Grave 12.
Memorials: Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 2 Service

3 Jul 1940: Enlisted Private, SX7643, Adelaide, South Australia
3 Jul 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, SX7643, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
17 Nov 1943: Involvement Private, SX7643, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion, New Guinea - Huon Peninsula / Markham and Ramu Valley /Finisterre Ranges Campaigns
Date unknown: Involvement

‘Always remembered, forever in our thoughts’

Irvine was one of six sons of Walter Duncan and Olive Louise Chester Ogilvie. He was born in Cleve on the 2nd May, 1917. His siblings included Jean, Phillip, Stewart, Bruce, Murray and Douglas. The family initially lived in Moe, in Victoria before then moving to live in Booberowie on a property called Caithness (in a nod to their Scottish heritage). This region in the mid-north of South Australia is known for the quality of its sheep and farming with Walter specialising in quality lucerne crops. It was here that the children attended the local school.
Post school, Irvine became a station hand on a property he held in partnership with his oldest brother, Phillip from November ‘38. This farm was next to that owned by their father. Besides working hard on the farm, Irvine also made time to play football for Booborowie in the same team as his younger brother Bruce.
With the outbreak of WWII, a very strong recruiting campaign was conducted for the A.I.F. with enlistment stations at nearby Burra and Clare as part of a huge drive aimed at encouraging fit young country men to join the army. 25-year-old Stewart was the first of the brothers to enlist on the 27th May ‘40, at Caulfield in Victoria, hence his number being VX17601. He was allocated to the 2/12th Battalion. Older brother Phillip (SX3992) followed, enlisting just days before his 27th birthday, on the 30th May ’40 and was allocated to the 2/27th battalion. (Their younger brother, Bruce later enlisted in March ’42 as a 20-year-old. He became SX17862.)
Aged 23, Irvine enlisted on the 3rd July ’40, with Donald Kerin SX7642, from nearby Burra with the two having consecutive numbers allocated. They joined just two days after Robert Ranford SX7410, also a station hand, and Clyde Sellars SX7369 of Burra who enlisted from Clare. Robert and Irvine were to share the same fate and remain together in New Guinea. All these fit young men were allocated to the newly formed 2/48th Battalion. 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.
Back home on pre-embarkation leave, the Ogilvie family farewelled Phillip early in October, then Irvine just weeks later. The Burra Record reported that ‘A pleasant social afternoon was spent at the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Ogilvie on Sunday afternoon, October 20th. The opportunity was availed of to make a presentation to Pte. Irwin Ogilvie. Mr. French in presenting a 'carry all' and the customary money gifts, expressed the gratitude of the residents for the wonderful effort of the Ogilvie family in having three sons with the A.I.F. These home gatherings have a personal touch They savor of goodwill and reveal a spirit of comradeship that is more enduring than the mere matter of words.’
Returning to the 2/48th the Battalion contingent then embarked on the Stratheden for the Middle East, on the 7th November 1940, arriving on the 19th December 1940 where their Battalion completed a few months training in Cyrenaica.
Early the next year all three brothers, despite being in different battalions, happened to catch up in Palestine with Phil writing home with his letter published in the Burra Record that ‘A rather interesting feature was the meeting of the various brothers on active service. Besides Pte. Phil Ogilvie his two brothers, Gnr. Stewart Ogilvie attached to the 2/12 Field Regt. 23 Battery, and Pte. Irvine Ogilvie 2/28 Battalion although attached to different sections were delighted to know that all were camped close together and a pleasant reunion resulted at Christmas.’ He added that ‘Was on duty for Xmas but went to Irvine's camp on the 28th and saw him, and on the 29th Stewart arrived at our camp to see me so the three of us are all near one another.’ For his farmer father he added ‘I think it would all grow lucern, I have already seen a patch of about 10 acres, it looked beautiful. A broad tail sheep here is worth about £4, a cow £6, a good working camel £120, goat 10/-. When a sheep is killed you should just see the tail it is about 12 to 16 inches across and 6 inches thick, all fat.’
In April, Don Kerin who had enlisted with Irvine, wrote home with news of other locals. ‘There are six Burra boys in my Unit and they are all doing well. Irvine Ogilvie called over to my Section yesterday and we walked to the beach for a swim. The walk was eight miles, four miles each way, but it was great to have a swim as water is not too plentiful in the Libian desert, most of it has to be carted from distant wells, Irvine has two Hun tanks to his credit, he stopped them with an anti-tank rifle.’
In explanation of the final comment, that month, April ’41 witnessed the massive battle for Hill 209. The 2/48th Battalion’s B Company faced enemy tanks which were strategically allowed to break through the wire but, inevitably realising there was no artillery backup, turned to retreat. It was in this offensive that Private Ogilvie knocked out the tanks.
Soon after, the unwanted news was received by the family that Irvine was wounded in action with a gunshot wound to his scalp on the 1st May ’41 at Tobruk. He was hospitalised until the end of July when he was able to return to his battalion. By that time his family and the Booberowie community were devastated to learn that locals Thomas Bruce SX3256 had been killed in action, plus Phillip, and another Booberowie young man, Michael Hogan SX6625 had both been wounded in action. More distressing news followed with the announcement In June ’41 that Irvine’s brother Stewart was killed in action in Tobruk.
Pride mixed with sadness as the announcement was made that Phillip had been awarded a Military Medal in Syria in July ’41 for his heroic efforts that saved the lives of so many of his fellow soldiers. He also suffered a gunshot wound to his head in the encounter.
Irvine had a brief foray home the following year in March, much to the delight of the local community and with the observant Burra Record mentioning that ‘Pte I. Ogilvie was also noticed in the street on Monday.’ However, he was soon back with his battalion and was again wounded in action on the 16th July ’42 at Tel el Eisa with a bullet wound to his right arm. He was hospitalised, then when discharged was allocated to the Infantry Trig Battalion before finally leaving the Middle East and heading back home via Melbourne in March ’43 for some well -earned leave. At some stage before he left, Irvine visited his brother, Stewart’s grave. The Advertiser carried a poignant report from an unnamed soldier who stated “I have just seen a picture of the grave of Gunner Stewart Ogilvie, who was killed in action at Tobruk on June 29, 1941. His brother, Irvine, tiled and cemented the grave. He was wounded at Tobruk in May, 1941, and again last month in Egypt. Pte. Phillip Ogilvie, eldest brother, was seriously wounded in the Syrian campaign, and gained the Military Medal. Younger brother Bruce (20) is at his battle station somewhere in Australia. They are sons of Mrs. W. D. Ogilvie. of Caithness. Booborowie.”
Conditions in the Middle East and then training in the humidity of Queensland both probably contributed to Irvine contracting a respiratory tract infection just months before he arrived in Milne Bay in August ‘43. Soon after, in a massive, frontal fight for Coconut Ridge, Irvine’s Company faced machine gun fire on the ground and snipers hidden in the trees. His men threw grenades as they ran forward, encountering covered enemy bunkers. It was under these conditions that, aged 26, Irvine was killed in action on the 17th November ’43 in New Guinea as were Lieutenant Norton and Privates Dixon, Woodroffe, Zacker and Bowen with 20 others wounded. Reports indicate Irvine was fatally injured in attempting to help a fellow wounded soldier. 23-year-old Clyde Sellars from Burra, who enlisted at a similar time, was killed two days later. The Advertiser in its December publication revealed the cruel blow the family had endured, three years to the day that Irvine had sailed for the Middle East.. ‘Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Ogilvie, of ‘Caithness’ Booborowie, have been notified that their son Pte. Irvine S. Ogilvie, was killed in action in New Guinea on November 17. Pte. Ogilvie was wounded at Tobruk in May, 1941, and at El Alamein in July, 1942. He sailed for overseas on November 17, 1940. Pte. Ogilvie had three brothers in the war. Pte. Phillip Ogilvie was seriously wounded in the Syrian campaign and was awarded the Military Medal. Gnr. Stewart Ogilvie was killed in action at Tobruk, and Dvr. Bruce Ogilvie is on duty in Australia.’ The Booberowie Red Cross at their January ’43 meeting offered their support to the Ogilvie family and shared the sadness felt throughout the district at the death in action in New Guinea of Irvine.
Initially the soldiers were buried in the field in New Guinea before finally being laid to rest in the Lae War Cemetery. Irvine now rests in Plot BB Row C Grave 12. Nearby are 26-year-old SX7410 Sergeant Robert Ranford, (his good friend and a fellow station hand from Clare who enlisted at a similar time to Irvine) 23-year-old SX18365 Private Walter Millard, and 23-year-old VX81080 Lieutenant Frederick Norton from the 2/48th Battalion. Other young men from the 2/2nd, 29/46th and 37/52nd rest nearby. Irvine’s parents chose the inscription ‘Always remembered, forever in our thoughts’, for his headstone.
In the ensuing years, Irvine continued to be remembered by his family.
Advertiser Wednesday 8 December 1943, OGILVIE. — November 17 Killed in action, Private Irvine S. Ogilvie. the dearly loved son and brother of W. D. and. O. L Ogilvie and family. of ‘Caithness’, Booborowie.
Chronicle Thursday 13 January 1944, RETURN THANKS OGILVIE. —Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Ogilvie and family, "Caithness," Booborowie, thank their late son (Private I. S. Ogilvie's) comrades and friends, thanking relatives, friends, neighbors, for telegrams, letters, cards sympathy in recent bereavement.
Burra Record Tuesday 3 July 1945, OGILVIE — In loving memory of our two Sons, Stewart 2/12 Field Artillery, killed in action at Tobruk June 29. 1941. Irvine. 2/48 Btn. wounded at Tobruk, May, 1941. wounded at El Alamein July 1942. Gave his life to save a wounded comrade. Nov. 17. 1943. Satelberg. New Guinea. Forever in our thoughts. — Their own folk. "Caithness" Booborowie.

Researched and written by Kaye Lee, daughter of Bryan Holmes SX8133, 2/48th Battalion.

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