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Savige, the! man's man

by JOHN

HETHERINGTON,

former war

correspondent

¡¡ Á USTRALIA lost somebody who was more i I /V than just a noted soldier when Lieut.- ! |: General Sir Stanley Savige died on Saturday. ] || It lost a man who understood men. j

!; Savige did not pre !; tend* to be a military !; genius, but only a com !; mander who knew his !;way round the battle- -field because he had !; learned his soldiering the ¡I hard way.

¡; He had not a trace of ¡; the overweening vanity ¡¡which afflicts some mili !;tary leaders; but he did

; pride himself on his ; ability to handle men ¡ or blokes, to use his own ; term.

» "You can never really ; know blokes_

; unless you

> have worked

I a 1 o n g side

them," he J once told me.

<> "I reckon the I !¡ best educa ¡i tion I ever <! had was ¡; swinging a

j> pick as one '

«I of a gang of navvies when I ¡¡ was a young fellow."

<! Wherever he learned it, z Savige could certainly talk ¡i the ordinary Australian's i\ language. But his under ¡¡ standing of men went far <! deeper than that.

z Savige was a good example Ji of what a gutsy, intelligent <¡ man -can do with his life, J» even if he starts from be

* hind scratch.

¡; He was bom at Morwell, J Victoria, on June 25, 1890. <¡ Thus, his youth was lived in

? the shadow of the economic

<! depression that followed the ¡¡ bursting of the land boom,

¡i Savige never wearied of ,| telling friends about those J» years of struggle, when his <¡ father sheltered the family ¡¡ in a house which he built ¡i himself of bush planks ,| hewed and trimmed with his > own hands.

<! He served in the junior and ¡; senior cadets from 1902 to

«i 1909; and in the first war

i fought as a non-commis y sioned officer on Gallipoli 1 and as a junior officer in ¡» France.

<> Throughout 1918 he was < 2 an , officer of the Dunster » Force - a British detach

ment under General Dunster- ! ville which resisted German! designs in Persia and Kur-1 distan. Savige recorded his! experience of this episode in ' a book, "Stalky's Forlorn! Hope." ¡

Between the wars Savige' devoted himself to the crea-! tion of a successful business! and to ex-servicemen's wel-' fare, notably the Legacy! movement, which he played' a conspicuous part in found- ! tng. ¡

He also remained in the ' Army as a militia officer.! And when Lieutenant- ' General (later Field Mar-! shal) Sir Thomas Blamey ¡ raised the 6th Division, < A.I.F., for service abroad in! _/ the last war '

"." "">" "tu, I

he c h o s e < Savige as one? of his three <! infantry!' brigade com- >' manders. ¡|

Savige led ¡> his brigade in'! fighting in!; the Western'»

Desert,* Greece, and Syria. He'1 returned to Australia after ¡I Japan' entered the war and J saw extensive service in thp'! Pacific. e?

He exercised a number of' senior commands, includinel! those of General Officer!

Commanding 1st Corps, New) Guinea Force, and 2nd!;

Corps. i,

He was knighted in 1950-!; but it is doubtful if SavbeJ ever valued this honor as'! highly as he did the decora- !; tions he won in battle. These) included the D.S.O. and M.C.'!

Savige esteemed and ad-!1 mired Blamey above all men.'! His most cherished posses-!; sion was a personal letter ¡

which Blamey wrote hinv! soon after the war ended. ¡'

"Your services during the} period of the war years,", Blamey wrote, "present a re-; markable record. It is, too, a record of achievement and of

success which has been' marked by great hardship,!

and on many occasions, as¡!

I know well, you have had«! to follow a lonely road. This! you have done calmly and1 quietly, and on every occasion! the event has proved you1

right." !;

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