Stewart D E M Lt Col 1st Canterbury Regiment New Zealand Expeditionary Force

Stewart D E M Lt Col 1st Canterbury Regiment New Zealand Expeditionary Force

STEWART, DOUGLAS EVERARD MACBEAN, Lieut.-Col. 1st Canterbury Regt., New Zealand Expeditionary Force, s. of Francis Macbean Stewart, L.R.C.P., L.R.C.S., of Canterbury, New Zealand, formerly of Inverness, Scotland, by his wife, Annie Stevens (Bealey Avenue, Christchurch, N.Z.), dau. of S. C. Farr; b. Ashburton, Canterbury, 25 May, 1877; educ. Boys’ High School, Christchurch. On leaving school was for several years accountant for Messrs. Kempthorne, Prosser & Co., and later joined in establishing the firm of Stevenson, Stewart & Co., shipping agents. In 1900 was Lieut. Canterbury Highland Rifles, 10 months later becoming Capt. Commanding. When the Territorial scheme came into operation he was offered and accepted the Captaincy of the 1st (Canterbury) Infantry Regt., and in May, 1912, was promoted Major. On the outbreak of war he volunteered for foreign service, was given the command of his regt. 12 Aug. 1914, and was killed in action in the landing at the Dardanelles, 25 April, 1915. Col. Stewart held the medal for 12 years’ service with the New Zealand Volunteer and Territorial Forces, and was mentioned in Sir Ian Hamilton’s Despatch of 12 June, 1915.

In announcing his death, Major A. E. Loach, who succeeded to the command, wrote: “From first to last Col. Stewart evinced an unfailing interest in the efficiency and welfare of his command, and his loss is most keenly felt by one and all, not only in a personal sense, but in that the regt. has been deprived, at this early stage, of that able leadership, confidence in which means so much to any regt. on active service. . . . I enclose with this letter reports from Lieut. Lawry and Corpl. McInnis, who were with the Colonel at the time of his death. On Sunday last, after a landing had been effected, Col. Stewart pushed on to the rendezvous with the 1st and 2nd Companies, leaving me behind to bring on the remainder of the battn. The Colonel was accompanied by the Adjutant, but on attaining the ridge occupied by our troops he was separated from the majority of his men, the difficult nature of the country and the disposition of the troops being such that it was impossible to maintain touch. From Lieut. Lawry’s account it is evident that the Colonel, regardless of danger, gallantly pushed right into the firing line, with the object of steadying and encouraging the men preparatory to withdrawing them to a more suitable position. The circumstances under which your husband so bravely met a soldier’s end make the regt. proud, indeed, to have served under so gallant an officer, and his example will prove an incalculable stimulus to his regt. throughout the campaign.” The reports above referred to are as follows: Gallipoli, 27 April, 1915.-Sir, On the afternoon of Sunday, the 25th instant, I found myself left with a mere handful of some six or eight men on the extreme left of the firing line, about the spot Gallipoli 237-z-6. This ridge was so strongly occupied by Turks that I had to shelter my men down the side of the cliff. On the opposite bank shrapnel was raining torrents of lead, and we saw Col. Stewart nearly struck. He called to us, What are you doing?’ and learning that I had so few men, said, “Lie doggo where you are, I am sending for reinforcements.” Shortly afterwards he joined us, and about 100 reinforcements-Australians, Aucklanders and Canterbury men soon came up. Col. Stewart took charge, and with great coolness led us on to successive positions till we were within 150 yards of the crest where he decided to await the enemy. An Australian said to him, “Sir, we took this hill six times to-day, and 6 six times we have been driven back.” With characteristic coolness the Colonel replied, “Very well, we will take it a seventh time, and this time with the help of God and the battery we will hold it. But this is a better position than on the top, so we will await them here.” The hillside was covered with scrub, and as the Turks came on the Colonel moved with great daring from bush to bush, controlling fire and encouraging the men. At one time an Australian Capt. urged him to retire, but he replied, “No, if we lose this hill we are done. We must hold on.” There seemed to be snipers about picking off the officers. Possibly the Colonel was too unmindful of his own safety, and about 4 p.m. he was killed instantaneously by a bullet which passed through both temples. Immediately after the Turks made a bayonet charge. Finding myself the only officer on the ridge, I ordered rapid fire, which the men gave heartily, the Turks retiring to their trench. In a few minutes they charged again, and again rapid fire held them back, but as they fell back they rushed round our left flank. We swung our thin line round and a third time drove them back. But by now–4.45 p.m.-the ranks were sorely depleted. I had only a dozen men able to fire, and we took the opportunity to get away down into the valley with the wounded. I am sure that Col. Stewart’s cheery coolness under so very hot a fire enabled our men to do valuable and desperate work against vastly superior numbers. (Signed: R. A. R. Lawry, Lieut., Canterbury Infantry Battn.)

“Gallipoli, 26 April, 1915.-Sir, I was with Col. Stewart yesterday afternoon (25 April, 1915) when he was killed. It was about 4 in the afternoon, and we were very hard pressed trying to hold the top of ridge 237-z-6. We were on the point of retiring when Col. Stewart arrived with about 30 men, Australians and New Zealanders, and said, “Hullo, Corporal, how’s things?” I told him things were pretty hot and we were thinking of retiring. “Well, come on boys,” he said, “we’ll give them a bit more before we leave,” and although I told him it was not safe for him to come on the top as men were falling all round us, he came and knelt down beside me, and a few seconds later a bullet struck himĀ in the temple, passing clean through his head, killing him instantly. I was hit twice myself then, one grazing my shoulder and another hitting the cartridges in my belt, but doing no damage. There were only about a dozen of us left then. Col. Stewart died fighting, Sir, like the brave man he was. (Signed) Corpl. A. McInnis, 2nd South Canterbury Coy., Canterbury Infantry Battn.”

Col. Stewart m. Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand, 9 April, 1902, Edit Illa (Zeitoun, Merivale Lane, Christchurch, New Zealand), eldest dau. of Richard Hill Fisher, of Canterbury, New Zealand, and had issue two sons and a dau.: Ian Warren, b. 30 March, 1903; Donald Machean, b. 16 March, 1905; Patricia Joan Hill, b. 24 Feb. 1910.

Source : De Ruvigny’s Roll Of Honour Vol 1


Posted in New Zealand Expeditonary Force.

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