Clarence William (Clarrie) STEWART

STEWART, Clarence William

Service Number: SX7508
Enlisted: 2 July 1940, Wayville, SA
Last Rank: Lance Sergeant
Last Unit: 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Moonta, South Australia, 20 July 1912
Home Town: Moonta, Copper Coast, South Australia
Schooling: Kadina School, South Australia
Occupation: Farm Labourer
Died: 20 January 1983, aged 70 years, cause of death not yet discovered, place of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Whyalla Cemetery, S.A.
Memorials: Kadina Jerusalem Uniting Church WW2 Roll of Honour, Kadina Memorial High School WW2 Honour Roll
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World War 2 Service

2 Jul 1940: Involvement Lance Sergeant, SX7508
2 Jul 1940: Enlisted Wayville, SA
2 Jul 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Lance Sergeant, SX7508
18 Sep 1945: Discharged Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Lance Sergeant, SX7508, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion

First of Three Brothers to Enlist

Clarence (Clarrie) was the third son of Oswald John and Hilda May Stewart, born in Moonta on the 20th July 1912. He had two older brothers, Hendry Lionel and Melville Giles and a younger brother, Cliff, plus two sisters Audrey and Marjorie Lola. The family lived in an area known as New Jerusalem, a suburb which was part of Kadina on the Yorke Peninsula. New Jerusalem, later just called Jerusalem, was originally designed to provide housing for those working at the Wallaroo Mines, part of the Copper Triangle.
The children all attended Kadina School and post school Clarrie became a farm labourer. He was 22 when the family home was broken into, and Lola two gold bangles ‘valued at 19 guineas’ stolen. The ensuing court case had Mrs Stewart, Lola and Melville all giving evidence, resulting in two young men being apprehended and taken to the Adelaide Gaol. It was a troubling time for the family.
Clarrie and later, young Cliff both proved to be valuable footballers. Clarrie was a reliable attacking player for Kadina, who in his junior years was lauded for his skills and the suggestion was made that he ‘deserves a trial in the Senior side.’ In later years the local paper described him as ‘Clarrie Stewart the high flyer who was consistent, and greatly appreciated N. Cooper's help in ruck’. His ability to turn a game with his accurate kicking for goals was mentioned as influencing his team’s fortunes. In the mid 30’s the question of a junior competition was raised but there were those in the community who doubted the viability of such a competition. Fortunately, the competition went ahead and was particularly successful. In a move that would not have been countenanced today, ‘At the outset our guernseys were like a rainbow of many colors and designs’ until a local supporter provided a new set. A local report praised ‘Our wonderfully good year, and our good team work was; made possible by the friendly, harmonious and brotherly spirit that prevailed in our club. There were never any arguments or ill feeling, and I can honestly say that never has a better team of lads represented Kadina II.’ During the season the team won 12, and lost four games, three of these to East Moonta, and one to Moonta Juniors. A downside for the team was that ‘Clarrie Stewart had the misfortune to break his collarbone in the semi-final against Cross Roads, and lost his job over it.’ Overall, that season he played in 13 games and scored a total of five goals.
By ’38 Clarrie and Cliff were both involved in the first outing of the newly formed Kadina Riding Club where many of the riders had established a local Trotting Club and been involved in the breeding and training of the lighter, more graceful horses. However, this interest was put on hold with the outbreak of WWII. The brothers were eventually able to return to this sport in the ‘50’s with several horses, including Patalla, Vin Redmond, Walla’s Patch, Pleasant Bronte and Heather’s Choice competing.
Just prior to his 28th birthday, Clarrie enlisted on the 2nd July 1940 becoming SX7508 in the 2/48th Battalion. Another local 21-year-old Len Loveridge, SX7743 enlisted the following day. They travelled to Adelaide where their initial days were spent in the cold of the Pavilions, now part of the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds, before their battalion headed to Woodside for preliminary training. At some stage, Clarrie met Henry Aubert SX8734 from Woodside and the two became good friends. In later years their lives were to be closely linked.
1940 was Clarrie’s last football match, playing in the Kadina Old Scholars football team against Yorketown. The team was hailed as containing ‘a good sprinkling of the district's prominent players, and the boys will do their best to avenge last year's defeat.’ Clarry’s younger brother Cliff was also in the team line-up.
By the 21st October, a huge gathering of locals filled the Kadina Town Hall to wish good luck and Godspeed to their seven young enlistees. Of these, five were allocated to the 2/48th Battalion and besides Clarrie, were Privates Thomas Bell SX8265, George Gulley SX7264, Len Loveridge SX7743, and Louis Samuel SX7367. George, who had enlisted just days before Clarrie was to die of wounds in Egypt on 2nd May ’41. The others were to survive and return home at the conclusion of the war.
Organised by the Kadina District Council, The Kadina and Wallaroo Times reported that the meeting opened with the National Anthem before the chairman, Cr Pedler gave an emotive speech outlining that the Community was seeking “to do honor to the men who were going to serve their King, the Empire and their Country in this hour of stress and trial. The men were shouldering a great responsibility, and we could not do too much for them. He was delighted with the fine attendance, which thus showed its appreciation of the noble decision made by the young men, who were in every way worthy of all commendation.” Mayor Measday spoke in a similar vein saying that “he regretted conscription had been introduced in England, for the men would have offered themselves without it. And this is what our boys had done and were doing. On behalf of the town, and in all sincerity, I say that we are proud of you, we thank you, and when you come back again we will welcome you even more heartily and do whatever we possibly can for you, and all that is in our power; I wish you all Godspeed and a safe return."
Other speeches followed before the Fighting Forces Comforts Fund presented each man with the customary parcel of comforts. Each soldier responded briefly and in characteristic style. “It was one thing to join up, and another, and harder thing to say goodbye to good friends, said one of them, while another, with a touch of humour, said they were like the man with the wheelbarrow, with their job in front of them." Parents or their representatives then spoke before the final singing of Auld Langsyne and personal farewells to each of the seven men.
Returning to the 2/48th their contingent then embarked on the Stratheden for the Middle East, on the 7th November 1940, arriving on the 17th December 1940. Once in the Middle East, the recruits completing a few months training in Cyrenaica. From there, they were soon on their way to serve in Tobruk, Syria and Egypt. By the start of April 1941, the 2/48th were in Tobruk where the dust, flies, heat, minimal water supplies and constant bombardment were quite a challenge to new enlistees. Clarrie was to become one of the famed Rats of Tobruk. By July, Clarrie’s leadership skills were rewarded with a promotion to Lance Corporal.
Country towns were innovative in their efforts to both support their young men who had enlisted, but also to keep their decimated local sporting teams viable. To this end, Kadina established a local Patriotic Football Club designed to ‘raise funds for war purposes; to raise the morale of the public; to keep our lads healthy and physically fit; and to keep our national game going.’ Clarrie, Jack Hoey SX12741 Ian McLeod Larwood SX7893 and Rayner Stagg SX7311 from the 2/48th were each praised for their pride in the national game and who had fought hard for the game to continue through their roles as players and secretaries. Through the Kadina and Wallaroo Times in September ’41 the challenge was made “Are we, at home, doing justice to these men? We should keep the game going while they are away by supporting those who are trying to do so. I appeal to the public to give their assistance to our club, and to the good women who are helping us, the ladies of the Comforts Fund, the Red Cross,' V.S.D's, and V.A.D's.’
Two of Clarrie’s brothers also enlisted. Born 1912 Melville Giles enlisted following his 31st birthday in January ’42 as SX16943 and was eventually discharged in September ’44. Clifford Wade also enlisted soon after turning 21. He became SX17982 and was allocated to Clarrie’s 2/48th Battalion.
Over February ’42 Clarrie was again promoted but a series of health issues eventuated including in June, a bout of acute muscle pain causing him to be transferred via field ambulance to rest camp. The harsh desert conditions also caused severe conjunctivitis in September, followed by Clarrie sustaining a ruptured blood artery plus severe and extensive bruising under his skin. In war, accidents inevitably happened.
In Tobruk to Tarakan, John Glenn explained that ‘Tourbol was not the pleasantest place for a camp. It was treeless, and hot winds swept across the bare ground, but it wasn’t because of this that the men most remembered Tourbol. Here we had an unfortunate series of fatal accidents that robbed the battalion of some fine men who had given such sterling service through Tobruk.’ He explained that at night, without the use of vehicle lights, drivers had to rely on white stones which marked the sides of the road. On May 29th ‘42 Clarrie’s good friend Henry Aubert was fortunate to survive a vehicle collision on the Tripoli to Lattakia road when his and another army vehicle crashed. Two others were killed and Henry also sustained major injuries. A Court of Enquiry was held but fortunately found that neither Henry or other soldiers were negligent and there was no misconduct on the part of those involved.
By February ’43 Clarrie was on his way home from the Middle East, via Melbourne. In March he was one of eight soldiers invited to attend the Soldiers' Relatives Club at their monthly meeting where they were entertained with items and a much-appreciated afternoon tea. Two were from Clarrie’s Battalion, Jack Hoey and Len Loveridge and the other from their sister battalion the 2/43rd.
Training in Queensland followed to prepare Clarrie’s battalion for the totally different conditions they would experience in New Guinea. He arrived in Milne Bay in August ‘43 to serve for six months in the region.
Whilst Clarrie was serving overseas, back home Dulcie Margaret Hillier of Moonta Mines had also joined the war effort with the Australian Women’s Army Service which was established in August ’41. It was recognised that women were a strong but under-utilised resource with their service enabling more men to be released to serve. The women took on widely varying roles including being drivers, typists, signallers and cypher clerks as well as cooks or in other jobs.
Back home, on December 16, ’44 Clarrie and Dulcie married at the Victoria Square Methodist Church in Kadina. Clarrie’s sister, Audrey was bridesmaid for Dulcie and his fellow soldier from the 2/48th Battalion, Henry Aubert was best man for Clarrie, with younger brother Melville being groomsman. The ladies of the Comforts Fund were responsible for the beautifully prepared reception held in the tea-rooms of the church. Still wartime, Dulcie chose to travel in her Army uniform as her ‘going away outfit’ before the newlyweds both returned to their units in preparation for their discharge. Through the friendship of the two men, Henry Aubert met Clarence’s sister, Audrey Edith to whom he proposed on his return from New Guinea in January ’45. The two married in the same church as Clarrie for their November wedding.
Clarrie was finally discharged in September ’45, returning home to a huge welcome afforded to sixty-seven personnel. A massive civil welcome was organised in the Kadina Town Hall with a huge ‘Welcome’ banner displayed in the front while in the evening this was brilliantly illuminated with colored lights. The local band played outside while the interior was described by the local paper as ‘nicely arranged with Allied flags displayed around the hall, and on the stage, pot plants in bloom, with hydrangeas and begonias interwoven with fern, made a delightful scene, and with the happy feelings, a cheerful atmosphere prevailed the whole evening. The seating accommodated about 500 people in the hall, which still left a large area for dancing, while the dress circle was taxed to its capacity, and the only standing room available was soon taken up. At 8 o'clock Girl Guides and Boy Scouts formed a guard of honor from the hall entrance to the stage and the guests moved slowly through headed by two diggers of World War I.’ Allied flags were displayed around the hall, and the stage featured colourful, flowering pot plants, with hydrangeas and begonias interwoven with fern. The National Anthem was enthusiastically sung before the returned men and women were introduced and ‘welcomed them back to Kadina, all receiving the gratitude of the audience with applause. A summary of the role of the local men included ‘we fought on, our men never yielding or giving away until they had to. Then Tobruk and the Middle East and at last, a glimmer of hope when word came through "We stopped them,"' and the turning point was reached in Europe. The Jap treachery at Pearl Harbour, North of Australia, and then their menace to Australia when so many of our noble boys gave their best and all, to save us, and now we are a free country and people for which we thank them. We are here to pay a tribute to the boys who came home and to those who gave their lives that we live in freedom." The assemblage then stood in silence for those who paid the supreme sacrifice’ The evening concluded with all present singing "For they are jolly good fellows."
Within a year of returning, Clarrie lost his 57-year-old mother, Hilda. A fitting tribute appeared in the local Kadina newspaper. “Mrs Stewart. The area known as Jerusalem has been called upon to lay to rest one of its well known residents in the person of Mrs Stewart. Many of us did not anticipate that Mrs Stewart would pass away so quickly, but evidently her health was more impaired than many of us realised, and so we saw one of our people pass out Mrs Stewart was noted for her work in the district, and, I understand that she was one of the foundation members of the Jerusalem Ladies' Guild, and did good work while she was a member, right up to the end. Mrs Stewart also assisted during the war, especially working for the various patriotic appeals, and her work was highly appreciated. Then we must not forget her services in the district as a nurse. People remember her over the years, and they speak of her in high terms for her work among them. For some time Mrs Stewart- had been having a hard time with her health, and it was obvious that it was to be a battle, and so the end came to our late friend who passed on, leaving her work behind to speak for itself.”
The following year Clarrie and Dulcie placed a memorial to her, as did other members of the family. ‘STEWART.—In loving memory of our dear mother, who passed away November 5. 1946. A beautiful memory of kindly deeds, a helping hand to those In need; always so loving, unselfish and kind what a beautiful memory to leave behind —Always remembered by her loving son and daughter-in-law. Clarrie and Dulcie Moonta Mines.’ Twenty years later, Clarrie’s 79-year-old father, Oswald died in October ’66 and was buried in the Kadina Cemetery with his wife.
Compounding the loss of his mother, the following month saw the tragedy Of Dulcie and Clarrie’s first child, a daughter being still-born at the Moonta Jubilee Hospital in December. Baby Brian William arrived safely in January ’48 followed later by Joan and Kaylene.
The two 2/48th friends, Henry Aubert and Clarrie and their families all eventually moved to live in Whyalla, the booming town based on the success of BHP and shipbuilding. Aged 70, Clarrie died on the 20th January 1983 and was buried in the Whyalla Cemetery. His wife lived for almost three more decades and died on the 14th October 2002.
Researched and written by Kaye Lee, daughter of Bryan Holmes, SX8133, 2/48th Battalion.

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