In 1940 when Stephen Lyall Gardner enlisted in the army, he was living in Kyogle.
Lyall was born on October 6, 1918, just before the end of World War I.
He grew up in Mullumbimby and had worked for the Northern Star in Lismore and for the Mullumbimby Star.
When he signed up to fight in World War II, he was working at the Kyogle Examiner newspaper.
Lyall’s name and service will be remembered on January 14 at the Australian War Memorial in a Last Post ceremony.
On behalf of the 2/30 Battalion AIF Association, research officer John Grounds researched the men of the battalion who died in the Malaya Campaign of the war or were taken prisoner, such as Lyall.
January 14 is the 81st anniversary of the Battle of Gemas in Central Malaya.
Lyall fought in that battle against the Imperial Japanese Army.
He was one of the many young men from the Northern Rivers who were members of the battalion. Several died at the Battle of Gemas. Lyall survived that battle and the rest of the Malaya Campaign.
He died as a prisoner of war on the Burma Railway on November 25, 1943.
There was an article about Lyall’s death in the Kyogle Examiner on October 9, 1945.
The article included comments from a letter sent to Lyall’s father in Mullumbimby from Sergeant Stan Ariel. Lyall was given the nickname ‘Yappie’ after a footballer.
Here is a portion of that letter from the newspaper article:
“On the first night (we) went into Malaya, I was in charge of a patrol of half a dozen men, of whom Yappie was one, and he proved himself a first class soldier under very trying conditions.
“We met 30 Japanese that night, and if it is any satisfaction to you, you can say your son was one of the first AIF men to draw blood in Malaya.
“Thailand was too much for Yappie, and he died at Kami Sonbura (No 3 Camp, F Force). He was a fine chap and a fine soldier.”
The Australian War Memorial ceremony will be live streamed. Get details here.