From a young age Malcolm Herbert Stewart was driven by a desire to serve his community and country. As a boy he served in the Cadets for more than seven years; when World War I broke out in August 1914 Malcolm was one of the first to enlist. After the war Malcolm became a foundation member of Orange sub-branch of the RSL and its president for many years. He worked for Orange City Council for more than 40 years and was an active member of the Manchester Unity Oddfellows Lodge and Ophir Lodge.
Born in Orange in 1892, Malcolm was one of six children born to Malcolm John Stewart and his wife Mary (nee Beckenham). The family was particularly civic minded and displayed a keen interest in Orange and its townspeople; they were actively involved with St John’s Presbyterian Church.
Malcolm was educated at Orange Public School, where he served four years in Junior Cadets, three years in Senor Cadets , six months in Coronation Cadets and two and a half years as a Senior Cadet Officer.
At age 18, Malcolm was selected as one of the Australian Commonwealth Coronation Contingent of New South Wales Senior Cadets to participate in the coronation celebrations for King George V held at Westminster Abbey on 22 June 1911.
Malcolm later joined the staff at Buckham and Wilson’s grocery store on the south western corner of Summer Street and Lords Place (where the Commonwealth Bank now stands). At the time of his enlistment in the First World War, on 18 August 1914, Malcolm was employed as a grocer at Dalton Brothers.
Malcolm joined the 3rd Battalion, F Company, and was assigned the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. He embarked HMAT A14 Euripides in Sydney on 20 October 1914. Lieutenant Stewart joined the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in April 1915 and landed at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. He was admitted to No 1 Stationary Hospital, Lemnos, in May, suffering from influenza; he rejoined his unit the following month.
On 6 August 1915 Lieutenant Stewart’s unit fought in the Battle of Lone Pine. Malcolm sustained gunshot wounds to the left arm and right leg and was evacuated to the hospital ship Delta, and later admitted to the 19th General Hospital at Alexandria. He was transferred to the 4th Auxiliary Hospital at Abbassia and the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital at Cairo before being admitted to Helouan convalescent camp in late October 1915.
Malcolm returned to service in November 1915, when he was placed on light duties. In January 1916 he was appointed Company Sergeant Major at Tel-el-Kebir in Egypt. In July that year he was again admitted to hospital, suffering from ankylosis of the elbow. On 16 August 1916 Malcolm embarked from Cairo, to be invalided home. He arrived in Sydney a month later, and was afforded a public reception when he arrived in Orange on 20 September 1916.
Later that year Malcolm joined the clerical staff at Orange City Council. He served as a rates clerk for more than 40 years, until his retirement in September 1957. He was a popular and highly respected employee. In 1919 he was appointed Deputy Town Clerk and Secretary of the local Repatriation Committee.
In 1925 Malcolm married Isabella Clarke. The couple had three children – Peter, Jean and Max, who was later a famous racing car driver.
As a foundation member of Orange sub-branch of the RSL Malcolm worked tirelessly to ensure that the contribution of the district’s WWI soldiers was acknowledged by a suitable memorial. During the Second World War Malcolm was in charge of the Orange Voluntary Defence Corps. He also served as Western Districts Councillor to the RSL for 12 years, and was the Chairman of the Western Districts Conference.
Malcolm Herbert Stewart died in Orange on 6 July 1968, aged 75. He is commemorated on the St John’s Presbyterian Church Orange Honour Roll.
Malcolm’s brother, Charles Gordon Stewart also served in WWI; he returned to Australia in October 1919.