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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Edgar, Cedric Rupert Vaughan (1901–1967)

by R. Sutton

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Cedric Rupert Vaughan Edgar (1901-1967), by unknown photographer

Cedric Rupert Vaughan Edgar (1901-1967), by unknown photographer

Australian War Memorial, 022781

Cedric Rupert Vaughan Edgar (1901-1967), soldier and bank manager, was born on 9 July 1901 at Wedderburn, Victoria, son of native-born parents Thomas George Edgar, farm-manager, and his second wife Bessie, née Trotman. In 1918 Cedric joined the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Melbourne. Having served in the senior cadets, he enlisted in the Australian Field Artillery, Militia, and was commissioned on 10 April 1922. Over the next seventeen years he held regimental and staff posts—in the infantry as well as the artillery—and rose to major. Meanwhile, pursuing his career with the bank, he worked at Hamilton (1924), Tamworth, New South Wales (1928), and in Sydney (1934). At the Presbyterian Church, St Kilda, Melbourne, on 6 September 1930 he married a saleswoman Ruby Pearl Haworth.

On 13 October 1939 Edgar was appointed major in the Australian Imperial Force and posted to the 2nd/2nd Battalion. The unit sailed for the Middle East in January 1940 and trained in Palestine. As officer commanding the Headquarter Company, Edgar acted firmly to quell a threatened strike by the battalion's cooks. He was second-in-command in January 1941 when the 2nd/2nd took part in successful attacks on Bardia and Tobruk, Libya. In March the battalion was sent to Greece. After the delaying action at Piniós Gorge on 18 April, next morning Edgar established a 'straggler post' south of Lamia, collected over three hundred men from the 2nd/2nd and escorted them to the port of Kalámai (Kalamáta) whence they sailed for Egypt.

Returning to Palestine, from June he re-formed the depleted 2nd/1st Battalion. By October the 2nd/2nd was helping to fortify Qatana, Syria; Edgar was promoted lieutenant colonel and assumed command on 16 November. Leaving the Middle East in February 1942, he and his men spent nearly four months in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) preparing defences against a possible Japanese landing; the battalion eventually reached Australia in August.

In September the 2nd/2nd embarked for Port Moresby and in the following month fought at Templeton's Crossing and Eora Creek. At Oivi, in November, Edgar pioneered the tactic of immediate company (as opposed to platoon) deployment on contact with the enemy. Suffering from malaria, he was hospitalized on 11 November. By the time he resumed the leadership in December, the battalion had been relieved on the Sanananda Track and he returned to Australia in January 1943. For his part in the Papuan campaign he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

Promoted temporary brigadier on 16 June 1943, he assumed command that month of the 4th (Militia) Brigade at Milne Bay, Papua. The brigade moved to New Guinea and in December advanced north from Finschhafen, destroying the Japanese rearguard and capturing Fortification Point. After leave in Australia, in January 1945 the 4th was sent to New Britain where it was involved in operations from April to August. In December Edgar took over the 13th Brigade. Back home in January 1946, he transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 3 July as honorary brigadier. He was twice mentioned in dispatches, and appointed C.B.E. in 1947.

'Boss' Edgar was 5 ft 11 ins (180 cm) tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes, brown hair, a commanding presence and a reputation for his colourful language. His military knowledge, experience, understanding of the enemy, appreciation of terrain, and balanced judgement were noteworthy. He planned in detail and successfully undertook aggressive and innovative operations. 'Magnificently loyal', calm and cheerful, he was highly regarded by his officers and men.

On 6 August 1946 Edgar had resumed his civilian career as the bank's relieving manager in Sydney; he was appointed manager at Yass (1948), Sale, Victoria (1950), and Summer Hill, Sydney (1957); he retired on 3 January 1964. Survived by his wife and two daughters, he died of myocardial infarction on 2 September 1967 at the Repatriation General Hospital, Concord, and was cremated with Anglican rites. Lieutenant General Hector Geoffrey Edgar (1903-1978) was his brother.

Select Bibliography

  • A. J. Marshall (ed), Nulli Secundus Log (Syd, 1946)
  • G. Long, Greece, Crete and Syria (Canb, 1953)
  • D. McCarthy, South-West Pacific Area—First Year (Canb, 1959)
  • D. Dexter, The New Guinea Offensives (Canb, 1961)
  • S. Wick, Purple Over Green (Syd, 1977)
  • E. C. Givney (ed), The First At War (Syd, 1987)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 4 Sept 1967
  • war diaries, 2nd/1st and 2nd/2nd Australian Infantry Battalions, AIF, and Headquarters 4th and 13th Aust Infantry Brigades (Australian War Memorial)
  • Commonwealth Bank of Australia (Sydney) records
  • private information.

Citation details

R. Sutton, 'Edgar, Cedric Rupert Vaughan (1901–1967)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 20 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2020

Cedric Rupert Vaughan Edgar (1901-1967), by unknown photographer

Cedric Rupert Vaughan Edgar (1901-1967), by unknown photographer

Australian War Memorial, 022781