Arthur Stanley (Stan) GURNEY VC

GURNEY, Arthur Stanley

Service Number: WX9858
Enlisted: 6 December 1940, Claremont, Western Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Day Dawn, Western Australia, 15 December 1908
Home Town: Victoria Park, Victoria Park, Western Australia
Schooling: Day Dawn State School & Stotts Business College, Perth, Western Australia
Occupation: Electricity & Gas Co. employee
Died: Killed in Action, Tel-el-Eisa, Egypt, 22 July 1942, aged 33 years
Cemetery: El Alamein War Cemetery
Plot XVI. H. 21
Memorials: Arthur Stanley GURNEY V.C., Arthur Stanley Gurney VC Australia Remembers Park, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Keith Payne VC Memorial Park, Lake George Private Arthur Gurney V.C. Rest Area, North Bondi War Memorial, Victoria Park RSL Cenotaph
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World War 2 Service

6 Dec 1940: Enlisted Private, WX9858, Claremont, Western Australia
6 Dec 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (WW2) , Private, WX9858, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
7 Dec 1940: Involvement Private, WX9858
22 Jul 1942: Involvement Private, WX9858, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion, El Alamein

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Biography contributed by Robert Kearney

Gurney, Arthur Stanley (1908–1942)
by Peter Brune

Arthur Stanley Gurney, clerk and soldier, was born on 15 December 1908 at Day Dawn, on the Murchison goldfields, Western Australia, fourth of five children of George Gurney, miner, and his wife Jane, née Roberts, both from South Australia. Educated at the local state school and at Stott's Business College, Perth, Stan began work with a real-estate agent. From June 1927 he was employed as a clerk and meter-fixer with the City of Perth Electricity and Gas Department. An enthusiastic cyclist, he won a number of road-races and officiated at fixtures conducted by the League of Western Australian Wheelmen.

Quiet, unassuming, 5 ft 8 ins (173 cm) tall and of solid build, Gurney stated that he was an Anglican when he enlisted on 6 December 1940 in the Australian Imperial Force. In July 1941 he embarked for the Middle East and on 12 September joined the 2nd/48th Battalion at Tobruk, Libya; the 2nd/48th was sent to Palestine in October and to Syria in January 1942.

As part of the 26th Brigade, 9th Division, the battalion was deployed to Egypt in June to meet the threat posed by Axis forces pushing east towards El Alamein. Tel el Eisa lay approximately 10 miles (16 km) to the west, near the coast. The division was ordered to mount an attack on 22 July; the 2nd/48th's role was to capture Tel el Eisa Ridge. Major General Sir Leslie Morshead protested to the British commander-in-chief, General Sir Claude Auchinleck, that the plan was ill-conceived, pointing out that inadequate support would be provided. Because the 26th Brigade had to hold its existing ground, the 2nd/24th and 2nd/48th battalions could each spare only two companies for the assault and these would lack reinforcements. Yet the operation went ahead.

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