Leslie Thomas (Tom) STARCEVICH VC

STARCEVICH, Leslie Thomas

Service Numbers: WX11519, 516739
Enlisted: 9 April 1941, Claremont, Western Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd/43rd Infantry Battalion
Born: Subiaco, Western Australia, 5 September 1918
Home Town: Norseman, Dundas, Western Australia
Schooling: Grass Patch School, Western Australia
Occupation: Miner
Died: Natural causes, Esperance, Western Australia, 17 November 1989, aged 71 years
Cemetery: Esperance Cemetery
Memorials: Beaufort Starcevich Monument, Campbell Private Leslie Starcevich V.C. Memorial Park, Grass Patch Mallee Memorial Park, Keith Payne VC Memorial Park, North Bondi War Memorial
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World War 2 Service

9 Apr 1941: Enlisted Private, WX11519, Claremont, Western Australia
9 Apr 1941: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, 516739, 2nd/43rd Infantry Battalion
10 Apr 1941: Involvement 516739
12 Feb 1946: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, WX11519, 2nd/43rd Infantry Battalion
12 Feb 1946: Discharged Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, 516739, 2nd/43rd Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by John Edwards

Starcevich, Leslie Thomislav (Thomas) (1918–1989)
by Keith D. Howard

Leslie Thomislav (Thomas) Starcevich, soldier, was born on 5 September 1918 at Subiaco, Western Australia, third of ten children of Croatian-born Joseph Starcevich, miner, and his English-born wife Gertrude May, née Waters.  In the 1920s the family moved to Grass Patch, near Esperance, where Tom was educated at a local school.  After working in a gold mine at Norseman he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 9 April 1941 and joined the 2/43rd Australian Infantry Battalion.  Of dark complexion and 5 ft 7 ins (170 cm) tall, he embarked for the Middle East on 9 September.  On 17 July 1942, during the battle for Ruin Ridge at El Alamein, Egypt, he was wounded in the thigh; he returned to Australia in February the following year.  In August 'Starcey' was posted to New Guinea and served in the campaign against the Japanese, at Lae and Finschhafen (Finschaven).  He was promoted to acting corporal in December, although later he relinquished the rank voluntarily.  In January 1944 he returned to Australia.

From May to December 1945 the 2/43rd Battalion participated in the Australian invasion of Japanese-occupied Labuan and British North Borneo.  On 27-28 June it attacked the town of Beaufort.  Approaching a thickly wooded spur, Starcevich’s company encountered the enemy at a position where movement off the single track was difficult and hazardous.  The leading platoon found the enemy well dug in and, as the Japanese in the first post opened fire, Starcevich moved through the forward scouts firing his Bren-gun from the hip and silencing the post.  Fired upon immediately by a second light machine-gun emplacement, he coolly changed his magazine, advanced upon this post and, standing in full view of the gunners, destroyed it.  Encountering a third post, he and a fellow soldier moved forward and kept the post quiet with a hail of fire.  For this outstanding display of gallantry he was awarded the Victoria Cross in November.  After the war the people of Beaufort erected a memorial to Starcevich and named the jungle track 'VC Road'.

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https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/starcevich-leslie-thomislav-thomas-15544 (adb.anu.edu.au)