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Thomas Lodwick STEWART


Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Pte 5408 11/12/18 24y 30/12/15 25/04/19 6

Private Thomas Lodwick Stewart (1891 - 1944)

Stewart Brothers Booklet

The Stewart Family

The family of Thomas and Nellie Stewart - two boys and two girls, lived at Fairy-Knowe, Roslyn Street, East Brisbane.  Their two sons enlisted in 1915 for service in the Great War. One was killed in action; the other came back after spending a long time in German prisons. Mr and Mrs Stewart were members of Wharf Street Congregational Church.  Mrs Stewart was President and her elder daughter Gwenda an active member of the Queensland Women’s Electoral League.  Their younger daughter Olwen married a Melbourne doctor in Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Brisbane in 1929.  The stories of Tom and Arthur Stewart, two young soldiers who served King and country on the battlefields of Gallipoli and France, illustrate once again the impact of war on their own lives and the lives of their loved ones at home.

Tom Stewart's early life and enlistment

Thomas Lodwick Stewart was born in Brisbane on 11 December 1891, elder son of Thomas Stewart and Mary Ellen (née Thomas).  Tom worked as a salesman at S. Hoffnung & Co. before enlisting in Brisbane to serve overseas in the Australian Imperial Force on 30 December 1915.  A single man, aged 24 years, he was allotted to 25th Infantry Battalion with service number 5408.  After training at Enoggera, Private Stewart sailed on HMAT Itonus from Brisbane on 8 August 1916, arriving at Plymouth, England on 18 October.

Service overseas

More training took place in England and Tom Stewart’s unit proceeded from Folkstone to France per SS Victoria in December 1916.  The 25th Battalion fought as part of the 2nd Division and was engaged in attacks in the Somme Valley, floundering in the mud.  In March, it became evident that the Germans were retiring westwards towards Cambrai and the Hindenburg Line.

The Allies were keen to take advantage by pursuing them, capturing small villages along the way. Bean’s account describes the circumstances:

“A number of fortified villages still lay between 5th Army and that line, but Gough1 visiting the front on the 19th (March) was dissatisfied with progress. He was intensely and rightly eager that his army should reach the Hindenburg Line in time to help the 3rd Army’s great offensive in April.  Accordingly that night Gellibrand2 tried to capture one of the next villages, Noreuil, by surrounding it.

“The attempt made in the drizzling dawn of March 20th failed with loss, the approach in the dark being difficult and late, and the chain of German posts in and between the villages of Ecoust, Noreuil and Lagnicourt too strong.3” 

Captured at Noreuil - POW

Tom Stewart was reported ‘missing’ on 25 March, 1916.  It was later revealed he had been captured by the Germans at Noreuil, a Prisoner of War.

Tom Stewart’s whereabouts were not known till November 1918 when he was released in Switzerland.

“I was out on patrol with Pte T. Redhead ... I last saw him at Cambrai as a prisoner, unwounded on 25 March 1917.”

Asked what happened after capture, Private Tom L Stewart said: 

“I was taken to Cambrai Hospital to have my wounds attended to. I was seven days at Cambrai; two weeks in Valenciennes Hospital; eight weeks in Munster Lazarette; four weeks at Soltau; thirteen months at Hameln Lager. I saw other Australian prisoners at Hameln. I was sent out ‘on Commando’ to a farm but was sent back to Hameln Lager on account of my arm being useless. That was on the 8th July 1917. I have not been out of the lager (camp) since then.”

In the safety of the Fulham Military Hospital in England on 10 December 1918, Tom Stewart said: 

“On the night of 24 March 1917, I was on patrol near Noreuil. I was wounded through the neck and became unconscious, awaking to find myself a prisoner. Behind the German lines I met my mate Private T Redhead who was captured at the same time.”

Return to Australia

Private Stewart sailed from London per TSS Nevasa, embarking on 5 March 1919.  He arrived in Australia on 25 April and was discharged on 1 May 1919. Tom Stewart returned to the staff of S Hoffnung and Co.

He married Phoebe Hodsdon on 25 September 1920 at St Andrew’s Church, Lutwyche. Tom’s sister Gwenda was a bridesmaid.  Tom and Phoebe Stewart lived at Cavendish Road, Coorparoo.  Their children were June and Donald.

The funeral of Thomas Lodwick Stewart took place in Brisbane on 27 December 1944.  He had reached the age of 53 years.  Amongst those who mourned his passing were his mother who had learnt of her dear son’s imprisonment in German POW camps in 1917, his sisters Gwenda and Olwen and his widow and children.


Footnotes
1 Sir Hubert Gough—British General
2 Sir John Gellibrand –Australian Major General
3 Bean C.E.W., Anzac to Amiens, page 323
4. Bean, pp 194-5

Select Bibliography
• Australian War Memorial records
• Commonwealth War Graves Commission
• National Archives of Australia, military records and letters
The Brisbane Courier, 18 Sep 1916, 12 Dec 1929
• Bean, C. E. W., Anzac to Amiens, Penguin Group Edition, 2014
• Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church Archives, Brisbane, Wharf Street Congregational Church Year Books 1909 – 1920
The Courier-Mail, 16 Nov 1938, 12 July 1939, 28 Nov 1941
• Queensland Register of Births, Deaths, Marriages
• State Library of Queensland
 

Compiled by Noel Adsett, Brisbane.  January 2015.
 

 

 

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