Name Stephens Hector ( Hec) Charles Rank: Corporal
Battalion 2/29th Battalion
Place of Birth Beeac Victoria, 25 July 1912
Next of Kin His father Thomas Stephens his mother was Elizabeth Lavinia Stephens (nee Opie) of Beeac.
Date and place of enlistment
6 May 1941 Leongatha then Royal Park
Location on enlistment
Mt Eccles South
Date and place of death
31 May 1943 in Malaya while trekking to a camp of guerilla forces aged 30.
Location of grave or memorial
His name is recorded on the Singapore Memorial Column 132. He is on the honour rolls in Beeac, Leongatha and Mt Eccles.
Relationship to Woorayl Shire
He was a teacher at Mt Eccles South School and enlisted in Leongatha
Hec was the third son of Thomas George Stephens and Elizabeth Lavinia Opie. As a result of the depression, he left Colac High School and worked in his father’s shop. He made several unsuccessful applications for teaching jobs, so returned to school at the age of 21 to study.
In 1934, Hec was eventually employed as a probationary student teacher and in 1936 he undertook a further year’s training at Melbourne Teachers College and became a Head Teacher Class V.
In February 1937 he was posted to Welshman’s Plains and for the next four years taught at rural schools terminating in Mount Eccles South. Hector enlisted in the 2nd AIF on the 26th April 1941 at Leongatha. He joined the 2/29th Battalion of the Australian Infantry and was posted to Malaya. There were a number of other local men in the 2/29th. At the Battle of Muar River in January 1942, the badly outnumbered Allied Forced held up the elite Japanese Guards for six days. During this time more than 500 allied troops were killed in action. After the battle a small group of English and Australian soldiers, including Hector, began groping their way along devious back-tracks across Southern Malaya, avoiding enemy patrols and searching for some kind of rallying point. Several died along the way and it was not until 1943 that the remaining five made contact with Chinese guerrillas sent from the 4th Guerilla Headquarters at Tengkil.
Private Stephens was one of the casualties of the trek. He is buried somewhere along the track leading to the Guerilla camp at Tengkil in Malaya. Private Stephens is commemorated at the Singapore Memorial, Column 132 at Singapore. In 1993 his good friend, Private Jim Wright of the Royal Norfolk Regiment, wrote: “He was a good man, a brave man, and showed great courage and fortitude in awful conditions. All his family can be proud of him.”
Information from the Colac and District Family History Group