SEE ALSO JOHN HENRY STEEN
John (Jack) enlisted at the age of 16yrs & 6mths on 29 May 1940 and was posted to 2/4th Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery on 31 May 1940. He embarked for the Middle East with his unit aboard H.M.T "MAURETANIA" on 20 Oct 1940. Was graded Group II Signaller, 21 Mar 1941 and appointed Lance Bombardier 28 Aug 1941. His underage was discovered and he was transferred to 2nd Echelon Depot Battalion on 8 Sept 1941.
He returned to Australia on 23 May 1942, first aboard "LACONIA" to Bombay and then "DUNTROON" to South Australia.
Transferred to Guerrilla Warfare School on 9 Jul 1942 and joined the unit at Darwin on 25 Nov 1942. Embarked with the unit for New Guinea aboard S.S. “DUNTROON” on 17 Jun 1943 as a Signaller in Signals Section, Headquarters Group and served in No 5 Section, “B” Troop under Lt Doig and returned to Australia with them aboard “TAROONA” on 3 Sept 1944. After leave and reorganization, embarked for New Britain aboard “TAROONA” on 9 Apr 1945 with the unit as Signaller in Signals Section, Headquarters Group and served in No 5 Section, “B” Troop. Attended a course at No 5 Flame Thrower School, 5 Jul to 9 Jul 1945.
Jack returned to Australia aboard "TAROONA" 15 Sept 1945 and was discharged on 19 Oct 1945.
Jack enlisted for the Korean War with Service No 540007 and served with 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, (RAR) 28 Sept 1950 to 12 Dec 1951.
He was twice wounded in action on 31 Oct 1950 and 26 Apr 1951 and during that period, the 3rd Battalion (800) was involved in the “Battle of Kapyong” between 22- 25 Apr 1950 against a Chinese Division (10,000) and the battalion was awarded an American “Presidential Unit Citation” ( PUC )
London Gazette 19 Jun 1951.
United States of America
“Pte Stafford a member of the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, distinguished himself by gallantry in action against the enemy north of the Chong-Chon River in Korea on the 29th October 1950.
During a company action which ultimately cleared the main axis of advance for the 24th United States Infantry Division, to which his unit was attached, Pte Stafford displayed such individual courage and initiative that he made it possible for his platoon to secure its objective.
During the advance of the platoon towards its objective, intense enemy fire from small arms halted the advance and pinned down the platoon. Pte Stafford’s section was ordered to advance but again encounted intense enemy fire which inflicted several casualties. With complete disregard for his own safety and in spite of enemy fire which continued to sweep the area, Pte Stafford moved alone around the right flank and destroyed an enemy light machine gun position. In doing so he exposed himself to a fresh enemy position. Although he could not advance further in the face of this fire, Pte Stafford, from his exposed position, placed such accurate and effective fire on the enemy with the Bren gun he was carrying that the rest of his section was able to advance and bring additional fire to bear on the enemy.
Aided by this fire Pte Stafford again advance alone, firing his Bren gun from the hip, with such devastating effect that the entire platoon was able to advance and seize the objective.
During the reorganisation Pte Stafford moved forward of the platoon position to clear the front. Discovering what appeared to be a camouflaged dugout, he fired a burst from his Bren gun into what seemed the opening, but was in fact ammunition on the side of a concealed tank. The resulting explosion blew away the camouflage and drove out the tank crew. The tank was later destroyed.
Throughout the entire campaign Pte Stafford has shown outstanding courage and has been an inspiration to all members of his unit. His masterful use of the Bren gun and his complete disregard for his own safety have repeatedly been the deciding factor in carrying his unit to success over numerically superior enemy forces.
The gallantry displayed by Pte Stafford reflects great credit on himself and the military service.”
Jack was discharged date unknown but enlisted again as a Private on 29 Apr 1952 with service No 52362 and was promoted to Temporary Sergeant, posted to 4th RAR on the same day. On 18 Mar 1953, embarked for JAPAN aboard "NEW AUSTRALIA" and flew to Korea on 19 May 1953, transferring to 3rd RAR. He was promoted to Temporary Warrant Officer Class 2 (T/WO2) on 4 Jul 1953 and on 14 Sept 1953, was promoted Corporal and retained the rank of T/WO2. Promoted to Sergeant and retained the rank of T/WO2 on 26 Nov 1953. He returned to JAPAN on 17 May 1954 and flew to Australia on 23 May 1954. Jack changed his name to John Henry Steen on 25 Jan 1956 and after numerous postings, was posted to SINGAPORE on 27 Oct 1962 and returned to Australia on 16 Aug 1963.
Jack served in the Vietnam War as a Warrant Officer Class II in the “Australian Army Training Team, Vietnam” from 31 Jul 1964 to 8 Mar 1965 with Service No 52362. During that period the “Australian Army Training Team, Vietnam” was awarded an American “Meritorious Unit Commendation” ( MUC ) and a Republic of South Vietnam “Gallantry Cross (Palm Unit Citation)”. Vietnam ( GC PUC )
He was discharged on 28 Apr 1970
Edited by Peter Epps