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Stewart Neil GOW

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Cpl 14643 20y8m 19 Sep 1916 18 Dec 1919 6

Private Stewart Neil Gow (1896-1974)


Family background and early life

Stewart Neil Gow was born on 22nd January 1896 at Newcastle, New South Wales, eldest son of Robert Milne Gow, (businessman, merchant, company director) and his wife Agnes Mary née Jones.  Soon after his birth, his father opened a business in Brisbane on the corner of Edward and Mary streets which was to become R. M. Gow and Company Limited, a highly successful firm specialising in the wholesale merchandising of foods and household requisites. The company controlled the Queensland distribution of Arnott's Biscuits and Foster Clark's commodities and were the producers of the well-known 'Gold Crest' food products.  In 1904, the company was responsible for the first cargo of wheat shipped from Queensland to England.

Stewart’s three younger brothers - James Gordon, Edward Norman and Robert Wallace Milne Gow were born in Brisbane in the first decade of the twentieth century.  Their family home was Gowan Brae in Mark Street, New Farm. Stewart Neil Gow attended Brisbane Grammar School in 1910 and 1911.  In his late teenage years in Brisbane he joined the 7th Infantry Citizen Forces and worked in his father’s company as a salesman.


On reaching the age of 20 years 8 months, he enlisted in Brisbane on 19 September 1916 to serve in the Australian Imperial Force. He named his mother as next-of-kin and his religious denomination was Congregational.  Private Stewart Gow was given regimental number 14643 and appointed to the motor transport section of the Australian Army Service Corps in the 11th Depot Battalion at Enoggera.  

In 1917 at Broadmeadows he received the rank of cleaner, then driver and driver mechanic in the 17th Divisional Supply Column 300 Company and he embarked with his unit on board HMAT Themistocles on 4 August 1917 from Melbourne.

The troops disembarked at Glasgow before travelling to Parkhouse Camp in southern England where he remained for the rest of that year preparing for duties at the Western Front.

1918 - a difficult year.

At Tidworth in mid-January, an offence was recorded against Driver Gow for being absent without leave while travelling by train when not in possession of a leave pass.  He was confined to barracks for seven days and forfeited one day’s pay.  

Service in France

On the last day of January he proceeded overseas to France where he served at the Australian General Base Depot at Rouen.  Joining 1st Siege Battery Ammunition Column in early April, Driver Gow carried out transport duties in France and Belgium till June when he fractured his right arm.  This injury required hospital treatment at Mile End Military Hospital in Bancroft Road, Stepney and later at 3rd Auxiliary Hospital at Dartford.  Partly recovered, he was assigned duties in No 4 command depot, overseas training brigade in England but was again in hospital at Parkhouse in November and early December.

Post-war and return to Australia

After the war, Stewart Gow was granted leave to engage in non-military employment at a merchant’s premises in Clink Street, London.  He returned to Australia per Port Denison on 17 November 1919 and was discharged on 18 December. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his services in the AIF.

At home in Brisbane, Stewart Gow resumed his career as a salesman in his father’s business but very soon took managerial responsibility.  R. M. Gow and Company Ltd became a private company in 1921 by which time R. M. Gow’s four sons had joined the firm.  R. M. Gow remained the governing director until his death in 1948.

His eldest son Stewart and his brothers continued to undertake new ventures like their enterprising father and the firm continued to prosper.


On 4 April 1925, Stewart Gow and Nancye Muriel Sack were married at Sydney in Saint Stephen’s Presbyterian Church.  The bridegroom’s gift to the bride was a single-seater sports car.  The couple lived at Prospect Terrace, Hamilton.  In the late 1960s they moved to Monaco Street, Surfers Paradise.  


Stewart Neil Gow died in 1974 and his widow in 1978.

Select Bibliography
• National Archives of Australia, military records, World War 1
• Australian War Memorial, embarkation rolls and unit histories
• Brisbane City Council cemetery records
• Queensland Register of Births Deaths Marriages
• New South Wales Register of Births Deaths Marriages
The Golden Book, Archives, Brisbane Grammar School
• Lougheed A L, Gow, Robert Milne, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9,  1983, Melbourne University Press
Wharf Street Congregational Church Year Books, 1909 – 1920, Archives, Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church, Brisbane
• Australian Electoral Rolls, 1921 – 1972
Sunday Times, Sydney, 5 April 1925

 Compiled by Noel Edward Adsett, Brisbane, April 2016 ©



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