Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

Search the Guide

To find information in this Guide please select one of the green coloured options.

To Select a Page Group when displayed, right click and select 'Open'.

Copyright Conditions Apply.

STODART, David Edmund DSO DFC (1882-1938)

STODART, Dr David Edmund DSO DFC (1882-1938)

David Stodart, aviator, gained renown in 1934 as a participant in the MacRobertson Trophy Air Race from London to Melbourne. The race had been organised as part of Melbourne’s Centenary celebrations and was named after the major prize donor, wealthy confectionery manufacturer, Sir Macpherson Robertson. Squadron Leader D Stodart, then fifty-two years old, and Sergeant Pilot K Stodart flew an Airspeed AS.5 Courier (G-ACJL) as a British entrant in an elapsed time of 9 days 18 hours finishing in sixth position.

Born on 31 July 1882, eldest surviving son of David Edmund Stodart (1846-1916) and Flora Matilda nee Willis, of Corunnum, Mooramong and Melbourne, David Stodart was first educated at Geelong Grammar School as a day boy from 1898 where he was a cadet corporal and a member of the rifle team. In 1901, he entered Geelong College becoming in 1902, a sergeant of the College Cadet Corps, a player in the 1st Football Team and a winner of the University Class Chemistry Prize in 1902. The Annual Report of 1902 also records a gift from D E Stodart of his bird’s egg collection to the College ‘museum’ and this is probably the same individual rather than his father.

Although there is no enrolment record, his father David Edmund Stodart, was probably also educated at Geelong College as a David E Stodart of Geelong is recorded as winner of a Special Prize in Mapping in 1964 in the College Annual Report of that year.

On matriculation Stodart proceeded to Edinburgh University, where he studied Medicine, graduating MB ChB. While at university, he enlisted as a Private in the Queen's Volunteer Rifle Brigade, Royal Scots, on 20 May 1904, serving with that unit until his graduation on 1 September 1910. He was, according to his obituary, an excellent rifle shot and won important events in England, Scotland and Ireland.

He was a Second Lieutenant (on probation) in the Royal Flying Corps (the British Aviation Corps, as it was earlier known) on 17 May 1913, Flight Officer on 5th February 1914, and Flight Commander on 6 May 1915. He commanded No 3 Squadron, RFC, in 1916 and 1917, and was mentioned in despatches in March 1917. The outstanding incident in Squadron Leader Stodart's war record occurred when, owing to the incapacitation of all other officers of his unit, he carried out the administrative work of the entire squadron for three weeks, as well as taking part in routine flights for bombing, observation and photography. During a period of twenty-one days he was thirty-seven hours in the air, performing the duties of an entire flight. He dropped 115 bombs, exposed 326 negatives, and acted as observer for 163 rounds of heavy artillery. Stodart was awarded the Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (London Gazette, 21st September 1918). He was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (London Gazette, 3rd June 1918).

Major Stodart was appointed to the Air Board on 13th September 1917. In 1918 he was in Aden, and had command as a Squadron Leader of No 114 Squadron, Royal Air Force. He was then in India from 1918 to 1919, and with No 84 Squadron in Iraq from 1924 to 1927. He is believed to have married Mary Harrison and had two sons, John Hersey Stodart (1916-), and David Edmund Stodart (1924-). David Edmund Stodart died in England on 28 February 1938.

Geelong Grammarians records the following about him:
'Medical Doctor and Air Force Officer. Born 31 July 1882. Eldest son of David Edmond Stodart (GGS 1858-9). Brother of Frank Lindsay Stodart (GGS 1898- ), Charles Merton Stodart (GGS 1899- ) and George Willis Stodart (GGS 1900- ). David began his education at home and was admitted to GGS as a day-boy 18 Apr 1898. At school he was corporal in the cadets and shot in the Rifle Team. After leaving GGS he read medicine at Edinburgh University, graduating MbChB. He was well known there for his shooting skills. In 1914 he enlisted in the Aviation Corps and was an expert in early aeroplanes. He married Mary Harrison and they had two sons: John Hersey, born 6 July 1916; and David Edmund.'

Sources: Crookwell Gazette 30 September 1936 p6; Sydney Morning Herald 28 September 1936 p9; Pegasus June 1938 p 64; Corfield & Persse. 'Geelong Grammarians: A Biographical Register Vol One 1855-1913' p559; AWM Microfiche; Pegasus; The National Archives (Kew)); Pegasus December 1918; Pegasus June 1938 p64; Geelong Grammarians Vol 1 (1855-1913) pp104, 559.
© The Geelong College. Unless otherwise attributed, The Geelong College asserts its creative and commercial rights over all images and text used in this publication. No images or text material may be copied, reproduced or published without the written authorisation of The College.