Assyrian commemorative service to honour the life of Lt General Sir Stanley Savige KBE CB DSO MC ED
On the 31st of August Assyrian community leaders from Sydney and Melbourne gathered at Boorondara cemetery in Kew Victoria to commemorate an Australian General for his dedication and sacrifice towards the safety of Assyrian refugees during the exodus from Urmia in August 1918.
Lieutenant General Sir Stanley George Savige, at that time a captain serving in the specially assembled Allied unit nicknamed “Dunsterforce” was second in command of a supply column assigned to re-supply the Assyrians fighting in Persia. Unable to complete his task due to the fall of Urmia he nevertheless persisted in his endeavor to assist the Assyrians by persuading his British commander that he should remain with them.
For six weeks he used all the means at his disposal to protect the refugees against the perpetual onslaught of the Turkish forces. He placed his command at the rear of the refugee procession and deliberately drew enemy fire reasoning that the Turkish commander would concentrate on killing him before harming the refugees. By offering his command as a target, even though outnumbered one hundred to one, he managed to slow the Turkish advance long enough for most of the refugees to flee. This act of courage and self sacrifice is far beyond what is expected of a regular junior officer in the field. Stanley Savige was no ordinary soldier; this righteous young man was born in 1890 in Morwell, Victoria, commissioned in the field, he served in Gallipoli and France where he won the Military Cross at the second battle of Bullecourt. In 1918 he won the DSO for his part in the Assyrian refugee crisis. After the war he established the Legacy Foundation to care for war widows and their children, he rose to the rank of Lt General and was knighted. He passed away on the 15th May 1954 at a young age of sixty three and is now resting at Boorondara cemetery in Kew Victoria.
Lt General Savige was thanked by all speakers at the ceremony; speakers included the Hon. Petro Georgio MP representing our Prime Minister the Hon. John Howard, Brigadier Keith Rossi RSL, Lt Colonel Mark Gainsford Defence School of Signals, Mr. John Savige and five Assyrian community representatives. The General was awarded the highest Assyrian medallion and declared a hero by all speakers. A plaque was also accepted by his grandson Mr. Stanley Waters on behalf of his Grandfather. After the ceremony, the Assyrian delegation proceeded to his home town [Morwell] where a bronze bust of the General was unveiled by the Mayor Hon. Lisa Price. The Assyrians were invited to attend and address the gathering, a historic occasion to celebrate the life of a great Australian.
The Assyrian levies Association wishes to thank all participants and attendees; Assyrian Church of the East – Prime Minister – Hon. Petro Georgio MP - Australian Army School of Signals – Returned Services & League, Brigadier Keith Rossi - Assyrian Australian Association - Assyrian Universal Alliance - Victorian Assyrian Community – Assyrian Australian National Federation - Assyrian Barwer Association – Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party - Dr. Yaghoub Sayad-Yaghoubi – Assyrian 3zzz Radio - Australian Assyrian Arts & Literature foundation – Liberal Party, Mr. Andy Rohan, Mr. Paul Azzo & Mr. Zaya Tomma – FOBKC Association and all individual participants.
A special thanks to; Chaplain Major Peter Lyndenmyer, Rev. Genard Lazar, Dr. Walter Savige.