No.2224 Lance Corporal Lewis John Stewart
[Listed on RSL Honor Board as L. G. Stewart but should be L. J. Stewart]
Lewis John Stewart’s connection to Werribee was through his extended family. An article in the Werribee Shire Banner, states: "L-Cpl Lewis James Stewart... For the two years prior to joining the Colors, he was learning farming with his uncles, Messrs Stewart [...] of Werribee, at which place he was well known and was in the choir of the Methodist Church."
The Ballarat Courier, 30 April 1917, p.4.
Lewis James Stewart enlisted in the AIF on 13 July 1915 in Melbourne at the age of 20.
His enlistment papers described him as: 5 feet 7¾ inches tall, 12 stone 8 pounds in weight, with a clean complexion, blue grey eyes and dark brown hair. His religion was listed as Methodist.
Along with other soldiers in the 23rd Battalion, Lewis Stewart embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A20 Hororata on 27 September 1915. By early March 1916, he and his battalion were fighting in France.
On 11 November 1916, Private Stewart received a minor gunshot wound to the scalp and was treated at the casualty clearing station.
On 3 March 1917, he was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal then, only a matter of weeks later, Lewis Stewart, along with other soldiers from his battalion, were captured by the Germans at Vaux, in the north east of France. He was officially declared missing on 20 March 1917.
His Red Cross Missing Person’s file contains the following eyewitness statement:
“I knew all these men quite well. They were all in a dugout just above Bapaume really two miles at a spot where the Germans began to evacuate. A mate of mine names Pte George Thompson was with them. He left them at 12 o’clock midday. When he left he discovered that the dugout was very nearly surrounded by Germans, but he just
managed to escape. Our own men then saw the Germans close in and take all these men prisoners.” Informant – Private W.F. Melbourne 3872 No. 7 C.C. Boulogne, 18 May 1917.
German records would later report that he was, indeed, a Prisoner of War and interred at Limburg, Germany. This prisoner of war camp was used mostly as a registration point so by April, Lance Corporal Stewart had been transferred to Wahn – approximately 20 miles south-east of Cologne. Then by 17 November 1917, he had been transferred to Dulmen. His movements from then until the end of the war are not recorded.
Along with of other allied prisoners of war, Lewis Stewart was repatriated from Germany to England in December 1918 – arriving in London on 6 December 1918.
He departed England on 31 March 1919 aboard HMAT Khyber, disembarking in Melbourne on 12 May 1919.
Lewis J Stewart is also remembered on the Ballarat Honour Board.
Numerous references to Lewis Stewart were reported in the Werribee Shire Banner during his war service:
A report of his enlistment and imminent departure to war, as well as mention of his being presented with a gold medal from "Royal Welcome Tent, No.379".
Werribee Shire Banner, 29 July 1915, p.2.
Private L. G. Stewart was reported missing in France.
Werribee Shire Banner, 3 May 1917, p.2
A welcome home to returned soldiers was held in the Werribee Mechanics' Hall on 25 June 1919. Private L. G. Stewart was one of the soldiers listed to receive a gold medal.
Werribee Shire Banner, 26 June 1919, p.3.
Medals and Entitlements:
- 1914/15 Star
- British War Medal
- Victory Medal
Australian War Memorial
National Archives of Australia