Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Egan, Clyde Joseina (1917–1993)

by Rhys Crawley

This article was published online in 2017

Clyde Joseina Egan (1917–1993), army officer, was born on 13 August 1917 at Armidale, New South Wales, the fifth child of Irish-born Martin Egan, labourer, and his New South Wales-born wife Sarah, née McLaren. Clyde attended Stonehenge Public School until 1930. Standing five feet eight inches (173 cm) tall, he worked as a farm hand and served with the Citizen Military Forces (CMF)  as a corporal in the 12th Light Horse Regiment. On 11 July 1940 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. Although his superiors found him reserved and inclined to be nervous, he completed officer training at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Australian Capital Territory. Commissioned as a lieutenant in December 1941, he embarked for service in New Guinea on 16 March 1943. There he joined the 24th Battalion and saw service at Wau, Lae, and Salamaua; the latter two while temporarily attached to the 58th/59th Battalion.

After spending January 1944 in hospital with malaria, Egan rejoined the 24th Battalion. From Saidor, between 10 and 24 June 1944, he led a patrol deep into the rugged Finisterre Range to clear the area of enemy troops who had been responsible for murdering New Guineans. He was later awarded the Military Cross for displaying ‘outstanding ability and exceptional courage in his many encounters with the enemy’ while in New Guinea. Specifically, he was commended for leading his platoon ‘with gallantry, dash and determination in pursuit of the enemy’ at Salamaua in August-September 1943; and for his ‘determination, initiative and outstanding leadership’ as a patrol leader in June 1944, when he cleared the Finisterre Ranges ‘of enemy troops who had been responsible for the murdering of natives’ (NAA B2458). Having returned to Australia in August 1944, on 29 December Egan departed for Bougainville, where, after suffering acute appendicitis, he resumed duty with the 24th Battalion for its next stage of operations. On 20 May 1945, following an intensive aerial bombardment, the battalion, supported by artillery, mortars, machine-guns, and tanks, began a successful attack along the Buin Road. It was during this action that Egan, leading his patrol, captured the Japanese headquarters at the position that was later named Egan’s Ridge. Displaying the same ‘courage and determination,’ and ‘aggressive and skilful leadership’ (NAA B2458) that he had shown in 1943–44, Egan was awarded a Bar to his Military Cross.

He was promoted to captain on 23 July, and transferred to Rabaul, where he joined the 55th/53rd Battalion in garrison duties. Admitted to hospital with malaria in November, he received treatment until he was placed on the Retired List on 7 March 1946.

On 11 May 1946 at St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Glen Innes, he married Norma Joan Sullings, a nurse. While working as a superintendent with the Shell Co. of Australia Ltd, he returned to the CMF on 1 November 1953 as officer commanding the 34th Company, Royal Australian Army Service Corps, based at Glen Innes. He was promoted to temporary major in October 1954 and retired from the army on 31 August 1964. Active in the local community, he was patron of the Glen Innes Vietnam Legion Veterans Association, and was made a life member (May 1987) of the Glen Innes and District Services Club. Survived by his wife and three sons, Egan died on 10 August 1993 at Glen Innes District Hospital and was buried in the Catholic cemetery, Glen Innes.

Research edited by Brian Wimborne

Select Bibliography

  • Christensen, George, ed. That’s the Way it Was: The History of the 24th Australian Infantry Battalion (A.I.F.) 1939–1945. East Melbourne: 24th Battalion Association, 1982
  • Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, no. 140, 19 July 1945, 1548
  • Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, no. 182, 20 September 1945, 2023
  • Glen Innes Examiner. ‘Contribution to Club Recognised.’ 19 May 1987, 2
  • Long, Gavin. The Final Campaigns. Vol VII of  Series One (Army) of  Australia in the War of 1939-1945. Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1963
  • National Archives of Australia. B2458, Egan, Clyde Joseina.

Citation details

Rhys Crawley, 'Egan, Clyde Joseina (1917–1993)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/egan-clyde-joseina-18060/text29637, published online 2017, accessed online 18 October 2019.

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