By Derek Schlennstedt
A new name was added to the Mount Evelyn honour board, following the Remembrance Day service on Saturday 11 October at the Mt Evelyn War Memorial Gardens.
Hundreds of Mt Evelyn residents came out to pay their respects and commemorate the sacrifices made by servicemen and women and among them was Shae Sandri, from Mooroolbark, whose Uncle, Charles Stewart was being added to the Mount Evelyn honour roll.
Anthony McAleer, Mt Evelyn RSL secretary said that Charles Stewart had flown ‘under the radar’ until recently, when the RSL discovered an interview that showed Mr Stewart had lived in Mount Evelyn prior to enlisting in the army in 1964.
Ironically the house he grew up in and spent much of his life at was the exact same location where the RSL building now resides – 49 Birmingham Road.
“The criteria for the honour board was that a person was either born or lived in that town before they enlisted,” Mr McAleer said
“Recently we discovered, via the internet we found an interview with Charlie talking about growing up in Mount Evelyn.
“Just accidentally stumbled across it and he fitted the criteria so his name should be on there.
“Iain Townsley, our piper, and who is also with the SAS association knew him personally so within 24 hours we were in email contact with Charlie, and he sent us all the details about his life in Mount Evelyn and his service.”
Charles Stewart was born at the Lilydale Bush Nursing Hospital and spent much of his early childhood in Mt Evelyn.
Following enlistment in 1964, he was posted to the Rockbank Signals Receiving Station.
Though, soon after in 1966 he was successful in being selected for the Special Air Service regiment in Perth and went on to serve as a rifleman in Vietnam from March 1967 to February 1968.
As he lives in Western Australia and is the National Secretary of the Australian Special Air Service Association, Charlie was unable to attend the unveiling of his name on Saturday, but his niece, Shae Sandri who lives locally was honoured to unveil the name in his stead.
“We just wanted to say on behalf of ‘Uncle Charlie’ as we know him, that he obviously would have loved to have been here today, but he was really chuffed to have been reconnected with the Mount Evelyn RSL and was really pleased with the acknowledgement.”
Anthony McAleer said they regularly had to add new names to the honour board, but that it was an honour to recognise those that had gone unnoticed and that it was ‘better late than never’.
“Because Charles left the area before he enlisted we were unaware until recently of his service in Vietnam and his connection to Mt Evelyn, which is why we missed out putting his name on the honour board, however it gives the Mount Evelyn RSL great pleasure to unveil his name on the honour board,” he said.
“It was nice to pay tribute to him and honour him locally; it’s good for the community to know how many residents have served in Vietnam.”