1813 Private George Stewart, 10th Battalion
KIA 19 August 1916
Story delivered 15 February 2014
Today we remember and pay tribute to Private George Stewart of the 10th Battalion. His photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.
George Stewart was born in 1888, the third of seven children of George and Emily Stewart of Campbelltown in South Australia. George worked as a gardener before the war, and enlisted in December 1914 as part of the initial rush for volunteers for the Australian Imperial Force.
After a period of training, George left Australia for Egypt with the 4th Reinforcements for the 10th Battalion in April 1915, and took part in the fighting in the Dardanelles. His reinforcement group was being ferried to the ANZAC positions on Gallipoli when the minesweeper bringing them ashore came under Turkish fire: George Stewart was wounded in the arm and leg and was evacuated to Egypt to recover.
George eventually rejoined his battalion on Gallipoli in July 1915, and would have been among the troops kept in reserve during the 1st Division's costly attack at Lone Pine in on 6 August. He came down with jaundice in November, and was evacuated from the peninsula to recover in Malta; afterwards he contracted enteric fever and was hospitalised in Egypt for a second time.
It wasn't until July 1916 that George Stewart was fit enough to rejoin his battalion. The Gallipoli campaign had come to an end, and the battalion was deployed to the main theatre of the war in France. In late July, it suffered heavy losses in the bitter fighting at Pozières, and the gains made them vulnerable to a concentrated German artillery bombardment, undoubtedly the worst the Australians experienced throughout their campaign on the Western Front.
The 10th Battalion filed into the line in preparation for a push towards the German stronghold at Mouquet Farm. Among the casualties was George Stewart, who was named missing after a costly and unsuccessful push towards the farm on 19 August. One eyewitness stated that he was in a shell hole with his platoon commander when German troops showered their position with hand grenades. The report could not be confirmed, and his remains were never recovered. In June 1917, a court of inquiry determined that Private George Stewart had been killed in action sometime between 19 and 23 August 1916.
The loss affected George's family greatly. In 1925 they inserted a memorial notice in the local newspaper on the ninth anniversary of his death. It read:
Though his cheery voice is silent,
And we see his face no more;
Yet in our hearts his memory lingers,
Just as sweetly as before.
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