Topic: Jack Stirling

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Jack Stirling (Service no. 25124) was a First World War soldier with links to New Brighton.

Jack Stirling WWI soldier Auckland War Memorial MuseumJack Stirling was born in on 28 January 1895 in Colac, Victoria, Australia. He was the only son of Richard Stirling and was described in a small obituary in Page 8 of The Press, Volume LIII, Issue 16038, 22 October 1917, as "a native of Colac,Victoria". 

In 1900, when Jack was five years old, he emigrated with his father from Australia to New Zealand. This was seventeen years prior to his death. I could find no reference anywhere to Jack’s mother so it is unclear whether Richard Stirling was widowed, separated, divorced or that the military authorities saw fit never to record Jack’s mother as a next of kin.

During his childhood, Jack was educated at St. Michael's, Christchurch Normal School and East Christchurch School. His military records list Jack as an Anglican, but it is unclear whether he was a regular churchgoer. 

Jack was described in his military records as having brown eyes, dark brown hair and a fresh complexion. He was 5 feet 9¾ inches.

Jack was a keen and exceptionally capable swimmer before the war. He was a prominent member of the East Christchurch Swimming Club and he represented his club for the Harris Cup for three consecutive seasons. He also won the two principle handicap events during the Duke Kahanamoku carnival at the Tepid Baths, and represented Canterbury at the New Zealand championships. Jack was a member of the New Brighton Surf Bathing and Lifesaving Club in its formative years and his name appears on their memorial window. 

It is fitting, given Jack’s interests and talents, that this year, 2015, was also the centennial celebrations of the visit of Duke Kahanamoku to New Brighton to give a demonstration of surfing. Duke Kahanamoku’s visit is seen as ushering in the era of modern surfing to New Zealand and I like to think, that had Jack survived the war, he would have gone on to be a keen surfer.

Jack was also a good footballer and was a member of the Linwood Football Club senior team during 1913. 

Jack was not married before he went off to war. He worked as a Compositor. He worked at Eclipse Print Company, 609 Colombo Street, Christchurch, before he left to fight overseas.

Even as a young man, Jack was forthright and not afraid to stand up for what he believed was right. On Page 3 of the Christchurch Press of 27 March 1914, it was reported that Jack sued his then employer, Whitcombe and Tombs, for wrongful dismissal and was awarded full damages of 50 pounds plus costs by the magistrate. Whitcombe and Tombs was the company Jack was indentured to as an apprentice at the time.

Jack was living at 465 Cashel Street in Linwood when he enlisted on February 9, 1916. He was sent off to train in Trentham, near Upper Hutt, where it was noted in the Camp Courier that Jack was one of the “celebrities” of Hut 90 in that he was “the noted Christchurch swimmer”.

When his training was completed, Jack embarked on the HT Tahiti in Wellington on 26 June 1916 as part of 3 Company, Machine Gun Corps, 1st Canterbury Infantry. He disembarked at Devonport in England.

There was no record of Jack being wounded although the English climate may not have agreed with him as he was hospitalised twice, once for influenza and once for bronchitis, in hospitals at Oxford and Southsea.

Jack was posted to France on 20 June 1917 and served for about four months in the theatre of war before he was killed in action on 4 October 1917 at Ypres, Belgium. He was 23 at the time of his death.

Jack Stirling was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal posthumously.

Jack is buried at Tyne Cot Memorial Cemetery, Zonnebeke, West Vlaanderen.

At the time of Jack's death, his father's address is listed as Wakefield House, Fitzroy St, Auckland, but this has been updated on his military record from an address in Christchurch which was C/o Weeks Limited, Tuam Street, Christchurch. This was obviously a work address as Richard Stirling's private address is given as 611 Colombo Street, Christchurch in The Press obituary. Curiously, this must have been right next door to Eclipse Printing where Jack worked prior to his enlistment.

 

Related Resources

  • Online Cenotaph record for Jack Stirling. Auckland War Memorial Museum
  • Military personnel file for Jack Stirling. New Zealand Archives (Archway)

References

  • The Fallen and Wounded. Press, Volume LIII, Issue 16038, 22 October 1917, Page 8
  • Alleged Wrongful DismissalPress, Volume L, Issue 14927, 27 March 1914, Page 3
  • Jack’s School Prize as an infant - Prize distributions. Press, Volume LVIII, Issue 11154, 21 December 1901, Page 5
  • Jack noted as a “celebrity” swimmer while training at Trentham - Camp Celebrities. Star , Issue 11634, 28 February 1916, Page 5 
  • Jack’s recruiting date - The Call for Men. Star , Issue 11601, 20 January 1916, Page 2

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Jack Stirling


First Names:Jack
Last Name:Stirling
Place of Birth:Colac, Victoria, Australia