Paul Philip KOSTERA

KOSTERA, Paul Philip

Service Number: SX7090
Enlisted: 29 June 1940, Wayville, SA
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Redhill, South Australia, 30 April 1914
Home Town: Balaklava, Wakefield, South Australia
Schooling: Lakeview Public School then St. Joseph's, Balaklava, South Australia
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Killed in Action, Libya, 5 August 1941, aged 27 years
Cemetery: Tobruk War Cemetery, Tobruk, Libya
4 Q 9,
Memorials: Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Balaklava District WW2 Roll of Honour, Balaklava WW1 & WW2 Honour Roll, Balaklava WW1 & WW2 Memorial
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World War 2 Service

29 Jun 1940: Enlisted Wayville, SA
29 Jun 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, SX7090, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
5 Aug 1941: Involvement Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, SX7090, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Date unknown: Involvement

'He Gave His Life for King and Country'

Paul was born in Redhill on the 30th April, 1914 the eldest son in the family of John and Mary Ann Kostera, a strong Catholic couple. His parents had a large family of eleven children which also included Louis, Thomas John, William, Keith Anthony (‘Sam’), Cecil Stanislaus, Eileen Frances Elizabeth, Verna Irene Joyce, Mary, Helena (Lena), and Patricia.
It is probable that Paul was named after two relatives, his paternal grandfather, and his father’s young brother both named Paul. His grandfather was a Polish migrant who arrived in South Australia as a 19-year-old young man, farming in the nearby Blyth area. His father’s 15-year-old brother was killed in an horrific accident in 1909 driving a dray from Blyth back home to the farm with bales of bags. In an attempt to avoid the enveloping dust storm, he sat in the bottom of the dray with his back to his horse and the dust. Unfortunately, his horse went off the poorly maintained track, causing the dray to crash into a tree, throwing young Paul to the ground and breaking his neck. An horrific ending.
Paul grew up in the Mid north farming district of Balaklava, on the banks of the Wakefield River. The area was popular for its strong wheat growing but also of being well located between the copper mining town of Burra and the Port Wakefield.
Initially Paul was educated at the local Lakeview Public School before attending St. Joseph's, Balaklava. Post school, he returned to his family farm where he helped his father, while also being active in the Catholic Young Men’s Club.
Both Jack and Paul were involved in the new Speed Coursing Company at Plympton Park. According to the Balaklava based ‘Wooroora Producer’, the coursing was explained as ‘The dogs do not chase the hare itself, which is sent over the course first, but follow a pilot dog released after the hare is in the box. The pilot dog is sent away and the racing dogs allowed to run when the former is some sixty yards ahead: the tin hare is forbidden in this State.’ Paul also was an active tennis player in the local Balaklava Catholic competition while also continuing to keep contact with friends from Lake View.
In 1939 a huge Presentation Ball was held at St Andrew’s in Balaklava to mark the 50th Anniversary of its establishment. Following a religious ceremony, the Debutant-style Ball attracting 450 people. The ‘Southern Cross’ of May ’39 reported extensively on the event which culminated in the debut of 29 young girls and their partners, predominantly from Balaklava, with Paul partnering Maureen Wood. Paul’s sister, Patricia was also involved. The girls and partners, ‘walking through a diminishing guard of honor and so around the hall, a presentation circular waltz concluding the ceremony. good music, supper, and floor keeping the crowd until 2 a.m.’
With the outbreak of WWII, a very strong recruiting campaign was conducted for the A.I.F. in a huge drive aimed at fit young country men. As an incentive for country young men to enlist, intending recruits were encouraged to contact the Balaklava Recruiting Committee for their initial examination. The added inducement was that they would then receive a free rail pass to Adelaide for their second examination, as well as being met on arrival and conveyed to Keswick. Consequently, just prior to his 26th birthday, Paul, officially listed as enlisting on the 29th June, 1940 at Wayville, was allocated to the newly formed 2/48th Battalion with the number SX7090. His brother, Louis became SX6606.
At a meeting of the local R.S.L. the ‘Wooroora Producer’ announced on the 17th June that ‘Three more recruits — Norman Kirkland, Paul Kostera (whose brother Louis enlisted last week) and Roy Hage — volunteered for service on Tuesday night, and have passed their first examination. Today they are in Adelaide for the second test.’
On the 18th October ’40 a farewell was organised at the Balaklava Institute for the six men who had enlisted. They included Charles Manuel, SX8017 who also joined the 2/48th Neil Gilchrist SX7266, G. Young, Max Reid SX6604, Louis SX6606 and Paul Kostera. The local ‘Producer’ also listed Pte David Williams and Pte Roy Hage and reported that there was singing of patriotic war songs, musical items and even tap-dancing items. As both Paul and his brother had been so active in Coursing and Tennis, the secretary of the former club handed the brothers a gift on behalf of both clubs. This was followed by a further gift to the brothers from the Whitwarta Red Cross. Finally, the local residents of Whitwarta presented the two brothers with wristlet watches. With formalities over, supper and dancing followed.
He travelled to the Middle East and became one of the now highly regarded Rats of Tobruk.
In July 41 the ‘Producer’ reported the local Lake View school Paul had attended, paid tribute to those past students who had volunteered. ‘In a praiseworthy effort to show respect to the local lads who have enlisted, the trees were planted as a gesture of genuine appreciation. It is hoped to make the enclosure a memorial garden worthy of the occasion. The local lads who passed through the Lake View School and also other lads with local associations honored were: Tom Allan, George Keech, Allan Burke, Paul Kostera, Tom Green, Edd Coffey, Max Raisen, Kevin Farmilo, Mick Walladge, Rex Walladge, and Hughie Doyle. The committee also included two of the warriors of 1914-18, who have rendered valuable local service since their return—Alf Dick and Tom Clothier.’
Aged 27, Paul was killed in action in Libya on the 5th August, 1941. John Glenn in ‘Tobruk to Tarakan’ described the conditions: ‘The days were unbearably hot. Conditions in the Salient were particularly bad, and at night cases of heat exhaustion had to be evacuated from the forward posts. This was the fifth month of the siege, and conditions were telling on the men. To add to this there was a marked increase in enemy fire from mortars, artillery and machine-guns, and our casualties were mounting. Private P. Kostera was killed by a sniper, and Privates Irvine, Hordacre and Ron Smith were wounded by shell fire. Private Rex Holmes, who ha been evacuated a few days earlier with desert fever, was killed as the result of a bombing attack on the Wadi Auda.’ Rex and Paul now rest together in the Tobruk War Cemetery.
The ‘Mail’ of Saturday 23rd August reported Paul’s death and that of eleven other country soldiers. ‘Pte. Paul Philip Kostera, 27, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Kostera, of Balaklava, was killed in action on August 5. He was born at Redhill, and educated at Lakeview Public School and St. Joseph's School, Balaklava. Until enlisting he helped his father on the farm. He entered camp in June, 1940, and left for overseas in November, 1940. Louis, his brother, is also over-seas, while others in the family are John, William, Keith, Cecil, Eileen, Verna, Mary, Lena, and Patricia.’
This announcement was closely followed by a further article in the ‘Southern Cross’ on the 29th August. ‘The war has nearly completed its second year, and until this week, members serving in the forces for King and country have been most fortunate, thanks be to God, in regard to injuries. It is with sincere regret that we learn, in the official lists just issued, that two of our members have paid the supreme sacrifice.; Bro. Pte. F. T. Bocian, St. Aloysius' Branch, Clare, who was killed in action on August. 3, was the first member to lose his life. The- second member to meet his death in action was Bro. Pte. Paul Phillip Kostera, of St. Andrew's Branch, Balaklava, at the age of 27 years. His brother Louis, who is also overseas, is also a member of the branch. To his sorrowing father, mother, five sisters, and five brothers, members tender sincere condolence.’ The paper continued ‘The local people were shocked and grieved to hear of the death at Tobruk of a gallant soldier, Paul Philip Kostera: he is the first of the many local lads to make the supreme sacrifice. A modest, unassuming little chap, he made many sincere friends through life. He attended the local school prior to going with his parents to Balaklava. As a member of the Balaklava Catholic tennis team, he revisited Lake View on several occasions: he was a dashing player and a thorough gentleman on the field and off. May God comfort the stricken family and grant eternal rest to the soul of Paul Philip Kostera.’
Initially Paul was buried in the field but was later re-buried in the Tobruk War Cemetery Plot 4 Row Q Grave 9. His parents chose the inscription ‘He Gave his life for king and country’ for his headstone.
Paul now rests with others from his battalion 34-year-old Private F Holmes SX7861 and 26-year-old Private W Mitchell SX7316. Others from their sister battalion, the 2/43rd plus the 2/9th 2/12thand 2/32nd also rest with them.
He was remembered by his family and friends.
Chronicle Thursday 21 August 1941, KOSTERA. — On the 5th of August, killed in action, Pte. Paul Philip Kostera, beloved eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Kostera, of Balaklava. May he rest in peace.
Advertiser Wednesday 5 August 1942, KOSTERA. —In loving memory of our brother, Pte. Paul P., who was killed at Tobruk on August 5, 1941. —Inserted by his loving sister, Helena and brother-in-law John. KOSTERA. —In loving memory of Paul, killed in action at Tobruk on August 5, 1941. Your grave is too far away to see, but not too far to think of thee. —Inserted by his loving friends, Mrs. Snashall and Delia, Portland. KOSTERA. —In loving memory of our son and brother Paul, killed at Tobruk, August 5, 1941. R.I.P.—Inserted by his parents, brothers, and sisters, Balaklava.
Advertiser Tuesday 3 August 1943, KOSTERA. —In loving memory of Paul, killed at Tobruk, 1941. Though death divides memories cling. —For ever remembered by Della.
Paul’s brother, Louis survived the war and was able to return home. Their mother, Mary enjoyed several years of peace but died on the 20th October 1950 aged 67. Their father retired to Prospect and died on the 16th June 1967. Both parents are buried at Balaklava.
Researched and written by Kaye Lee, daughter of Bryan Holmes SX8133, 2/48th Battalion.

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