Lt Gen Stanley Savige KBE, CB, DSO, MC, ED


 Those war widows and orphans who have been the beneficiaries of ‘Legacy’ would be familiar with the name of Sir Stanley Savige who was instrumental in the foundation of the organisation which continues to this day. Most of us, however do not know the story of this extraordinary soldier.

Savige was born in Morwell, Victoria, in 1890 and joined the cadets and was a scout master. He enlisted in the army in March 1915 and upon arrival in Egypt was soon sent to Gallipoli. He was promoted several times and sent up to Lone Pine and was chosen as one of the rear-guard upon the evacuation from Gallipoli. He was noted as being cool under pressure.

He was soon sent to the Western Front where he became a Captain and Adjutant and was awarded the Military Cross his outstanding service at Warlencourt, Grevilliers and Bullecourt. He volunteered for special service and was chosen as part of the small elite ‘Dunsterforce’ sent to Persia. It was here in August 1918 that his humanity shone forth and he was awarded a Distinguished Service Order for his bravery in saving thousands of Assyrian refugees.

The Assyrians had sided with Russia (and the British allies) against Turkey in WW1 but when Russia pulled out, the Assyrians were left isolated and highly vulnerable. Captain Savige was sent to re-supply the Assyrians who had no ammunitions left. Before he got there, the city (Urmia) was taken by the Turks and the refugees were fleeing south. Outnumbered one hundred to one and outgunned, he decided to protect the refugees. Assyrian Levies president Gaby Kiwarkis retells the story he heard from his grandfather, a WWI veteran:

“He supplied them with the ammunition they needed; he made sure they had food, he sent riders back to the British line informing them of the situation; he showed them which direction to go, plus he took up defensive positions at the rear of the refugees. Now this column was about 15 miles long; he rode with his six men all the way to the rear... and waited until the last possible moment, when he was practically surrounded, before he pulled out and then took up another defensive position. He delayed the enemy in this way for about six weeks, until most of the refugees marched down to the British lines. "He practically risked his career, risked his life - he said it himself in his memoirs that he placed himself between the Turks and refugees, he offered himself as a target so the Turkish commander would concentrate his men on trying to kill him, before the refugees... I mean, that's an amazing man...,"

After WW1 he married Lilian Stockton at the South Yarra Baptist Church where he was an active member. They had one daughter but also raised his sister’s children after her death. He founded Legacy in 1923 to care for the widows and their families.

In WWII he served in North Africa in Bardia, Libya, Tobruk, Egypt and in Greece. When Japan entered the war, he became Major General of the 3rd division in Papua New Guinea involved in some very difficult fighting. He is remembered for his care for both the soldiers under his command and more broadly all soldiers, which extended to them during and after the war and also their families. He was knighted in 1950 and died in 1954.






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