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John Edward Lloyd (1894–1965)

by Keith D. Howard

This article was published:

John Edward Lloyd (1894-1965), by unknown photographer

John Edward Lloyd (1894-1965), by unknown photographer

Australian War Memorial, 122335

John Edward Lloyd (1894-1965), soldier, farmer and licensing magistrate, was born on 13 April 1894 at Ascot Vale, Melbourne, second son of Australian-born parents Walter Edwin Russell Lloyd, clerk, and his wife Gustavia Anne Louise Whipple, née Lamb. Educated at the Grange Preparatory School, South Yarra, and Brighton Grammar School, John joined the Mount Lyell Mining & Railway Co. Ltd in 1910; he worked as an accounts clerk before being trained as an analytical chemist. On 1 January 1914 he was commissioned in the 49th Battalion, Militia. Sixteen months later he was appointed lieutenant in the Australian Imperial Force and sailed for Egypt with the 23rd Battalion.

In September 1915 Lloyd reached Gallipoli. Evacuated with typhoid fever in November, he recuperated in Australia before joining the 24th Battalion on the Western Front in December 1916. The unit took part in the attack on the Hindenburg line near Bullecourt, France, on 3 May 1917. Because senior officers were unavailable, 23-year-old Captain Lloyd took command. During the battle's appalling carnage his rapidly diminishing force became isolated, but he held his ground and managed to fight off five counter-attacks. He won the Military Cross. On 4 October he led the battalion's 'A' Company in the assault on Broodseinde Ridge, Belgium, and, although twice wounded, refused to be evacuated for forty-eight hours. Awarded a Bar to his M.C., he was promoted major in October while in hospital in London.

Lloyd's A.I.F. appointment was terminated on 12 February 1918 to enable him to transfer to the Indian Army. He performed regimental and staff duties in India, first as a lieutenant and then as a captain, and fought in the Afghan War of 1919. Taking leave in Western Australia, he married with Anglican rites Margaret Muriel Robinson on 1 March 1920 at St George's Cathedral, Perth; they had met in London when he was in hospital and she was a voluntary nursing aide. With the reduction of the Indian Army, he reluctantly resigned in September 1922. John and Muriel bought a farm in the Walebing district, near Moora, Western Australia, but were forced to sell it in 1928. He found a job in Perth as an administrative clerk with a land and estate agent.

In 1936 Lloyd resumed his service in the Citizen Military Forces and was posted to the 16th Battalion which he led in 1939-40 as temporary lieutenant colonel. Seconded to the A.I.F., on 1 July 1940 he was appointed to raise and command the 2nd/28th Battalion. By February 1941 he and his men were in Palestine. From April to September they helped to defend Tobruk, Libya. The 2nd/28th carried out raids against the enemy and mounted fighting patrols; Lloyd continuously moved among his forward troops by day and night. Fearless, cheery and untiring, he instilled efficiency and high morale in the battalion. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and twice mentioned in dispatches.

Promoted temporary brigadier in March 1942, Lloyd took over the 16th Brigade. The 16th garrisoned Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in March-July and, after a brief period in Australia, sailed to Papua in September. Between October and December the brigade helped to push Japanese forces across the Owen Stanley Range to the Sanananda area. Contending with weariness, hunger and tropical diseases, as well as determined foes, Lloyd's soldiers were spurred to success by his leadership and encouragement. He was appointed C.B.E. (1943) for his part in the campaign.

Lloyd contracted malaria and was evacuated to Australia. In March 1943 he was reassigned as chief instructor at the Land Headquarters Tactical School, Beenleigh, Queensland. He spent the seven months until June 1944 in India and Burma, lecturing to the British on Australian methods of jungle warfare. He later performed staff duties in New Guinea. As commander of the 2nd Prisoner of War Reception Group in August-December 1945, he arranged the repatriation of some 13,000 Australian prisoners and internees. On 21 December he transferred to the Reserve of Officers as honorary brigadier.

Resuming land agency work in Perth, Lloyd bought a farm at Mayanup in 1948 in partnership with his son Robin, but subsequently returned to live in the capital. In 1949 he was appointed a magistrate of the licensing court; he resigned in 1961 due to incipient blindness. He had been honorary colonel (1955-60) of his old C.M.F. unit, and was patron of the Rats of Tobruk Association in Western Australia and of the 16th and 2nd/28th battalions' associations. A man of presence, Lloyd had tanned features, a clipped, grizzled moustache, twinkling eyes and bushy brows. Many citizens of Perth recognized his upright figure leading old comrades in Anzac Day parades.

Survived by his wife, daughter and two sons, Lloyd died on 24 December 1965 at Mayanup and was buried with military honours in Karrakatta cemetery; the funeral was said to have been the largest since John Curtin's in 1945. Lloyd's son Russell rose to brigadier in the Australian Regular Army, and his daughter Margaret married (Sir) Francis Burt, the State governor (1990-93). One of Lloyd's former soldiers wrote of him: 'if I wore a hat I would, like the old soldiers of Charles XII of Sweden, take it off whenever his name was mentioned'.

Select Bibliography

  • E. G. Keogh, South West Pacific, 1941-45 (Melb, 1965)
  • C. E. W. Bean, Anzac to Amiens (Canb, 1968)
  • Reveille (Sydney), 1 May 1933, 1 Feb 1966
  • Tobruk to Borneo, 52, no 204, Mar 1996, p 4
  • J. E. Lloyd papers (privately held).

Citation details

Keith D. Howard, 'Lloyd, John Edward (1894–1965)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

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