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Murdo Stewart

New Zealand Naval Memorial, Devonport, Panel 12: Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve - Ordinary Seamen, Leading Telegraphists, Telegraphists, Leading Signalman, Signalmen, Ordinary Signalmen, Engine Room Artificer Fourth Class (digital photo John Halpin 2011) - CC BY John Halpin

New Zealand Naval Memorial, Devonport, Panel 12: Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve - Ordinar …


  • Title
  • Forenames
    Murdo AWMM
  • Surname
    Stewart AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    WWII O/7421 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
  • Relationship status


Wars and conflicts

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  • War
  • Campaign
  • Armed force / branch
    Navy AWMM
  • Service number
    WWII O/7421 AWMM
  • Military service
  • Promotions/ Postings/ Transfers

Military decorations

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  • Medals and Awards

Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • Enlistment
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment


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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes
    Killed or died while a Prisoner of War, Cause of Death AWMM
    Died whilst a prisoner of war AWMM

Biographical information

Biographical information

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    • Son of John and Ann Stewart, of Dunedin, Otago

      Ross Lynneberg recounted in 2002 that he helped bury Murdo Stewart in Japan AWMM
    • Biography of Murdo Stewart
      11 October 1920 – 10 October 1942
      Murdo was the first of five children, and only son, born to Annie (Ann, nee Ross) and John Stewart. He was born on 11 October 1920 in the Stewart family croft on Isle Martin, Lochbroom, Scotland. It is thought Murdo was the last born child of a crofter family on Isle Martin.
      On 10 November 1921 John, Annie and Murdo sailed from Southampton aboard the New Zealand Shipping Company Limited ship, the ‘Ruahine’ bound for Wellington. They came to the Wairarapa to join John’s sister, Catherine (Katie) who with husband William Alexander (Alex) Stewart lived in Featherston. (Alex was Katie’s first cousin.) Once the family was settled in a cottage on Andersons Line, Carterton, John returned to the sea working for various coastal shipping lines.
      By 1925 the family, which now included a daughter Mary born in Featherston on 30 November 1922, moved to Dunedin and purchased a home at 8 Chester Street, North East Valley. This was to be their only family home.
      Murdo attended the North East Valley primary school and then Dunedin Technical College for part of one year. Upon leaving College Murdo worked as a grocer’s assistant, firstly in a small grocery store, Barnetts, in North East Valley and then in a larger store, Frasers, situated on Stuart Street in the heart of Dunedin City. Shortly before the outbreak of World II Murdo started work for the New Zealand Railways as a Porter, Dunedin Goods.
      Murdo, like his Dad, had a great passion for the sea and was handy with his hands. As a youngster, aided by his best mate Bert Bunn, he converted a lifeboat salvaged from the shipwrecked Manuka into a launch. This launch was called Kutu. His other passion was tinkering with shortwave radio.
      Murdo and Bert Bunn joined the Otago Royal New Zealand Navy Volunteer Reserve on 14 June 1939. It was here that Murdo started learning wireless telegraphy which was to be his specialist branch. When World War II broke in late 1939 Murdo was sent to the Naval Base located at Magazine Bay, on Lyttelton Harbour, to monitor shipping. Within a year Murdo had enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Navy and spent time at Philomel for further training as a telegraphist before departing New Zealand, with another good mate, Jack Rix.
      Murdo and Jack arrived in Hong Kong on 6 December 1941. On 7 December 1941 the Japanese bombed the American Naval Base at Pearl Harbour, near Honolulu, Hawaii. They also attacked Hong Kong that same day. By Christmas Day that year the colony had fallen and Murdo and Jack were taken Prisoners of War by the Japanese and taken to Kowloon. Over a nine-month period many occupants of the camp at Kowloon succumbed to malnutrition, pneumonia, dysentery, diphtheria and gangrene. Late September 1942, Murdo and Jack were two of 1,816 Prisoners of War loaded onto the SS Lisbon Maru to be transported to Japan. On 1 October that ship was torpedoed by the Americans. The ship had not been flying the required Red Cross flag to identify it was carrying Prisoners of War. The ship stayed afloat for 24 hours before sinking. Murdo and Jack leapt off the sinking ship and were subsequently picked up by a Japanese Patrol boat and taken to Shanghai. 846 Prisoners of War perished that day. For the next three days food was scarce and the only water to drink had been bailed out of the Yangtse River. This water was a carrier of cholera and dysentery. On 5 October Murdo and Jack were loaded onto the SS Shinsei Maru but Murdo succumbed to dysentery and died on 10 October 1942, the night before the boat reached Moji, Japan. He was buried at sea. The official Royal New Zealand Navy record states Murdo died on 10 October 1942 while a Prisoner of War. The place of death is given as Kyushu, off Moji, North Kyushu, Japan. Sadly, for the Stewart family, they did not receive official confirmation of Murdo’s death until 14 November 1945. This confirmation was made possible by Jack Rix providing t Public - Jackie - Other relative - 4 May 2021 - Isle Martin Heritage Trust; several conversations with Ross Lynneberg; memoirs of Bert Bunn; official Royal NZ Navy record.
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About death

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  • Death
    • 10 October 1942 AWMM
      Age 22 AWMM
      KyushuJapan AWMM
    • 10 October 1943 Allan Steel Cemetery Project
      Age 21 AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
    Andersons Bay General Cemetery, Dunedin City Council AWMM Block 97, Plot 135 AWMM
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name
    New Zealand Naval Memorial, Devonport Naval Base, HMNZS Philomel, Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand AWMM

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  • External links
    Commonwealth War Graves Commission record
    Sources Used
  • Documents
    • Sunday Star Times AWMM
      Alley, O. [Ross Lynneberg]. (2002, 24 March). Sunday Star Times. A6 portraits AWMM
    • This record was partially compiled from data kindly provided by Allan Steel Cemetery Project (2020) AWMM


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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
04 May 2021JackieGreytownOther relative

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