Corporal Robert Bevir (NX65289) was born in Timsbury, near Bath in England, on 21 March 1913. He was the son of John and Dora Cecil Bevir of Everton, Hampshire and never married.
Initially a civilian clerk with Head Quarters 1st Division in Sydney, Bevir joined the Australian Army Medical Corp in August 1940 and continued with clerical duties aboard HMAHS Manunda as it travelled to and from the Middle East, returning to Sydney twice in 1941 and then sailing to Darwin in early 1942.
HMAHS Manunda was anchored in Darwin Harbour near the merchant ship Zealandia and the oil tanker British Motorist when it was first hit by shrapnel and then a bomb during the first Japanese air attack on Darwin, 19 February 1942. Twelve members of the crew and hospital staff were killed, including Robert Bevir, and forty-seven others were wounded. The medical and nursing staff quarters were destroyed, B and C decks were severely damaged and fires started on board. Despite the chaos, Manunda continued to treat incoming wounded and staff manned the life-boats rescuing injured men from the sea.
Corporal Bevir was killed in the orderly room aboard HMAHS Manunda during the attack. He was twenty-nine years old. His will can be read in his Service Record (held by the National Archives of Australia) and gives an insight into those people who were important in his life. He left his watch, writing case, wallets and enamel sleeve links to his eldest nephew; and Mr Hobdell was to receive two golden sovereigns in appreciation for ‘the influence he had and the kindness shown during his school life’. Corporal Bevir also expressed a desire to be buried in his Mother’s grave in the churchyard of Sway, Hampshire, in England. Unfortunately, this did not happen. His body was initially buried in Darwin then taken to the Adelaide War Cemetery.
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