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STODART, Charles Merton, MC (1887-1928)

STODART, Charles Merton, MC (1887-1928)

Charles Merton Stodart was born on 26 June 1887, son of David Edmund Stodart and Flora Matilda nee Willis.

He was enrolled at Geelong Grammar School from July 1899 to 1900 and then at Geelong College as a day student in 1901. His address at enrolment at College was 'Glenleith', Geelong. Charles was a member of the 1st Cricket XI and the 1st Football XVIII at College in 1905.

The Geelong College Annual Reports list him as the recipient of the following awards:
1901 - 2nd, Arithmetic, Middle 4th Class.
1901 - 1, Algebra, Lower 4th Class.
1902 - 2, Latin, Upper 4th Class.
1903 - 1, History, Sub Matriculation Class.
1905 - Dux of University Form A (Presented by Sir William Zeal).
1905 - 1, Algebra, University Form A.
1905 - 1, Geometry, University Form A.

He later went on to Ormond College, University of Melbourne where he completed his Law studies, with admission as a barrister and solicitor in May 1914.

During World War I, he enlisted in the AIF as a Gunner in 5 Battery, 2nd Field Artillery Brigade, on 8 May 1915, embarking with the 8th Reinforcement Group on SS Makarini on 15 September 1915. He served first in Egypt, then France and England. He was promoted 2nd Lieutenant in February 1917, and Lieutenant in July. He was wounded in action at Zillebeke on 31 July 1917, and hospitalised from August 1917 until January 1918, as recorded by Old Geelong Grammarian, 'Tim' Ware in a letter to his parents:
'Pup' Stodart has also been wounded but not seriously, just bad enough to get a Blighty on, I hear.'

Stodart was awarded the Military Cross on 2nd June 1918, gazetted on 16 September 1918. The citation read:
'For devotion to duty prior to and during the operation at Mont de Merris near Strazeele on night 2nd/3rd June 1918. On 1 June he made a difficult reconnaissance to select a site for a continuous wave wireless set and conducted the wireless personnel to the position selected. On the night of the attack he acted at the observation post as forward observation officer, and when the infantry advanced he followed them under heavy shell fire, maintaining communication, and telephoning back valuable information, which was passed to Brigade Headquarters. Throughout the operations he afforded a fine example of courage and devotion to duty.'

He was promoted T/Staff Captain in July 1918, and Adjutant in November. He embarked for return to Australia on 30 April 1919 and died, relatively shortly after his return on 26 April 1928, after several years of indifferent health, a result of the war.

Geelong Grammarians records the following about him:
'Born 26 June 1887. Third son of David Edmond Stodart (GGS 1858-9). Brother of David Edmund Stodart (GGS 1898- ), Frank Lindsay Stodart (GGS 1898- ), and George Willis Stodart (GGS 1900- ). He attended Mr Greenfield's School, and the Geelong Grammar Preparatory School July-Dec 1899. He was admitted as a day-boy to GGS 14 Feb 1900. He married Eliza O'Hara and they had a daughter, Fay'

He died on 26 April 1928. His death was reported in the Australasian newspaper in May 1928:
'The death occurred at a private hospital in Melbourne on April 26 of Mr. Charles Merton Stodart, aged 40 years. Mr. Stodart who was educated at the Geelong College, and later at Ormond College, was practising as a solicitor at Mansfield when war broke out. He enlisted as a gunner in the Field Artillery in 1914, and saw nearly four years' service in Egypt and France. Mr. Stodart obtained his commission in the Field Artillery, and won the M.C. in France. On his return from the war he resumed practice at Mansfield, but removed to Melbourne about four years ago. In his early life he played cricket and football with University teams, and later was a leading golf player.'

His brothers, David Edmund Stodart DSO DFC (1882- 1938), George Willis Stodart (1889-1976), and Frank Lindsay Stodart (1884-1944), were also educated at Geelong College.

His cousin, L/Cpl Thomas Norman Willis (1896-1917), 59 Battalion, an old Geelong Collegian, was killed in action at Glencorse Wood on 26 September 1917. He has no known grave, and his name is commemorated on The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.

Sources: The Australasian (Melb) 5 May 1928; Corfield & Persse. 'Geelong Grammarians: A Biographical Register Vol One 1855-1913' p567; ‘Geelong Collegians at the Great War’ compiled by James Affleck. p 320 (citing The University of Melbourne: 'Record of Active Service of Teachers, Graduates, Undergraduates, Officers and Servants (1926); Ware Family Papers; National Archives).
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