35456 Private John (Jack) Richard Stuart – 19th Infantry Battalion, 2nd NZEF

John Richard Stuart, known to family and friends as Jack was born on 20th February 1911[i] the fourth of six sons born
to Kathleen Isabella (nee Boulton) and Charles Stuart.  Charles Stuart was the police constable at Lyell, Buller Gorge from 1909 to 1912. Charles and Kathleen Stuart,  by 1919 moved to Pauatahanui where both the Boulton and Stuart families
had farms.

On 1st May 1940 Jack was the first of four brothers to enlist in the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force[ii]. Jack is listed
as working as a labourer for Mr J Barclay, Pauatahanui and his next of kin his mother Kathleen.

35456 Private Stuart entered Trentham Military Camp as a member of the 4th Reinforcements in the No 2 Training Unit, Central Infantry. Following basic training Private Stuart left New Zealand on 18th December 1940 for ‘Foreign Service’, ‘entering Egypt’ on 30th January 1941. On 28th February 1941 Private Stuart was “Marched into’ the 19th Battalion, the Battalion was preparing for ‘Operation Lustre’ the campaign in Greece.  

                                                                                                     It is probable that Private Stuart departed with the bulk of the                                                                                                               19th Battalion on the 11th March 1941.

                                                                                                                    NZ Troops welcomed to Athens March 1941

                                                                                                      The campaign ended with the Axis forces driving out the Allied                                                                                                              force out of Greece by the end of April 1941, the majority of
                                                                                                      New Zealand units were evacuated to Crete.

Private Stuart is reported to ‘safe on Crete’ on 12th May 1941. The Allied forces
now prepared for the invasion of Crete by German forces. The invasion began
on the 20th May 1941 with an airborne assault and while there was a spirited
defence the Allied forces were pushed out of Crete being evacuated by the
Royal Navy to Egypt. Private Stuart was posted as missing,  later evidence
provided by 4279 Acting Lance Sergeant Victor Arthur Melville[iii]:

         ‘I was in the same platoon as Private Stuart when we were attacked
         during the course of our withdrawal I saw him get wounded in the
         chest and face. When I last saw him he was in a stage of collapse and
         it was impossible to take him with us.’

For you the war is over - Allied POWs march back to Prison Camps
                                                 Crete May 1941 

Private Stuart was taken prisoner by the Germans and later moved to a transit
camp near Athens, Greece while arrangements were made to move the POWs
to Germany.  It is reported that Private Stuart escaped from the prison train that was taking POWs to German but was
later recaptured by Italians.[iv] It is not clear from Jack's military papers when he was recaptured.

Private Stuart was tried on 30th January 1943 for events that occurred on 19th May 1942 and was charged with :

         ' With holding arms, in that in Athens he was in possession of an Italian Automatic Pistol.
          With violence against members of the Italian Armed Forces for having in Athens on May 19th 1942

          fired several revolver shots at Sergeant Donata Sciancalefore whom he wounded in the foot succeeding
          in this manner in avoiding arrest.'

The court found James Stuart to be guilt of political conspiracy, political defeatism, holding arms and violence against
Italian Military Forces and was condemned to be shot to death, as was a civilian interpreter, Tony Hadkinson who was captured with him.

                                                      On 7th February 1943 Private James Richard Stuart was shot in the Cokinia cemetery, Athens                                                        and buried in a civilian plot in the cemetery. The New Zealand Authorities were informed by                                                          cable on the 21st April 1943. Following considerable correspondence, conducted through
                                                      the International Red Cross, Private Stuart was later reburied in the British Military section
                                                     of the cemetery.

                                                     At the end of WW2 the dead from various graves in Greece were consolidated in the
                                                     Phaleron War Cemetery, Athens and 35456 Private John Richard Stuart is now buried in
                                                     grave 13 B 18.

                                                     Private J R Stuart's grave

John Stuart and his older brother Lyle Stuart are both commemorated on the
Pauatahanui War Memorial[v] and their names will be inscribed on the
Porirua Memorial Wall, Te Rauparaha Park.   

                                                                                        Pauatahanui War Memorial 
Jack’s father Charles Stuart served in the 2nd Boer War as SA3420 Trooper Charles Stuart,
6th Contingent, New Zealand Mounted Rifles.

By 1941 four of five surviving sons were with the 2nd NZEF
35456 Private John (Jack) Richard Stuart, 19th Infantry Battalion  
38802 Private Edward Lyle (Lyle) Stuart, 22nd Infantry Battalion
41503 GunnerCharles Keith Stuart, NZ Artillery
43629 Private Ronald Kenneth Stuart, 29th Infantry Battalion
The remaining son Donald (Don) Kevin Stuart was exempt as last son on the farm

Paperspast Online
NZ Defense Archives: Military Files
19th Battalion and Armoured Regiment: NZETC
Pauatahanui a local history: Helen Reilly
NZ History Online

'Welcome at Athens' March 1941: NZ History Online
'For you the War is over' May 1941: NZ History Online
Phaleron War Cemetery Grave: NZ War Graves Project
Pauatahanui War Memorial: Allan Dodson

[ii] NZ Defence Archives - Military Files: 35456 Private John Richard Stuart
[iii] NZDF Defence Archives – Military Files: 35456 Private John Richard Stuart
[iv] Pauatahanui a local history,
[v] Pauatahanui a local history  
Allied troops going to Prisoner of War Camps - Crete 1941