Brigadier General Harold Edward 'Pompey' Elliott

Service number 624, 121
Ranks Held Brigadier General, Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel, Private, Temporary Brigadier General, Corporal
Birth Date 19 June 1878
Birth Place Australia: Victoria, Charlton
Death Date 23 March 1931
Death Place Australia: Victoria
Final Rank Brigadier General
Service Australian Imperial Force
Units
Places
Conflict/Operation First World War, 1914-1918
Gazettes Biographical information The Oxford companion to Australian military history in 1995
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1918-11-07
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1917-11-08
Published in London Gazette in 1917-01-01
Published in London Gazette in 1917-06-01
Published in London Gazette in 1918-06-03
Published in London Gazette in 1917-07-18
Published in London Gazette in 1919-07-11
Published in London Gazette in 1917-02-15
Published in London Gazette in 1901-03-25
Published in London Gazette in 1916-01-28
Published in London Gazette in 1918-05-28
Published in London Gazette in 1917-12-28
Published in London Gazette in 1918-12-31
Published in London Gazette in 1917-01-04
Published in London Gazette in 1919-01-07
Published in London Gazette in 1901-05-07
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1918-10-24
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1917-06-29
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1917-06-29
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1919-10-30
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1916-04-06
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1918-04-18
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1919-05-23
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1919-05-23
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1917-07-25
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1917-10-04
Description

Harold 'Pompey' Elliott was a senior First World War officer, businessman, and politician. He was born on 19 June 1878 at West Charlton, Victoria. Elliott joined the University of Melbourne's officer corps while a student but left to enlist in the 4th Victorian (Imperial) Contingent and fight in the Boer War.

Elliott proved himself a skilled and courageous soldier; he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, Mentioned in Despatches, and once received Lord Kitchener's congratulations for his defence of a post. Equally successful as a student and athlete, Elliott returned to university, earned a number of scholarships and prizes, played football, and was a champion shot-putter. He was called to the Victorian and Commonwealth Bar in 1907 and established a firm of solicitors. He married Catherine Campbell in 1909 and in the meantime had joined the militia as a 2nd Lieutenant. By 1913 he had reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was given command of the 58th Battalion. The army was Elliott's passion and he immersed himself in military lore.

When the First World War began Elliott was given both command of the 7th Battalion and the nickname 'Pompey' that stuck for the rest of his life. He landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, was shot in the foot, evacuated and did not return until June. Once back he quickly gained a reputation for courage and leadership. Four of the seven Victoria Crosses awarded at Lone Pine went to Elliott's battalion.

A short-lived command of the 1st Brigade was followed in March 1916 by promotion to Brigadier General and command of the 15th Brigade. Through no fault of Elliott's, the brigade's first action on the Western Front, at Fromelles, was a disaster in which over 5,500 men were killed or wounded in one night. Elliott wept as he met survivors coming out of the line.

But war also energised Elliott. Careful of men's lives, he was sometimes reckless with his own. A frank, outspoken man, he clashed with his superiors and was considered a difficult subordinate. In battle he proved to be an excellent, sometimes inspirational, leader. He expected to be given a divisional command and the denial of his ambition in May 1918 remained a source of bitterness until his death. For the rest of the war he led with characteristic zeal and in January 1919 he received the fondest of farewells from his brigade.

In the 1919 federal election he successfully stood for the Senate as a Nationalist; he was re-elected in 1925. He also took command of the 15th Militia Brigade. Alongside his political and legal career, Elliott was involved in the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia. His protests at having been denied higher command continued and were rejected by the Military Board and the Minister for Defence.

Only in 1927 was Elliott promoted to Major General and given command of the 3rd Division; however, his bitterness, expressed in correspondence to his superiors, remained. In March 1931 he committed suicide.

Rolls

  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Unit
    7th Australian Infantry Battalion
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Lieutenant Colonel
  • First World War Embarkation Roll:

    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Lieutenant Colonel
  • Honours and Awards:

    Unit
    15th Australian Infantry Brigade
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Temporary Brigadier General
    London Gazette
    01 June 1917 on page 5419 at position 12
    Commonwealth Gazette
    04 October 1917 on page 2622 at position 34
  • Honours and Awards:

    Unit
    15th Australian Infantry Brigade
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Temporary Brigadier General
    London Gazette
    04 January 1917 on page 195 at position 1
    Commonwealth Gazette
    29 June 1917 on page 1392 at position 35
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Unit
    5th Australian Division
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Colonel
  • Honours and Awards:

    Unit
    Victorian Imperial Bushmen
    Conflict
    South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
    Rank
    Corporal
    London Gazette
    25 March 1901 on page 2103 at position 2
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Unit
    15th Australian Infantry Brigade
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Brigadier General
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Unit
    15th Australian Infantry Brigade
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Colonel
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Unit
    58th Australian Infantry Battalion
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Lieutenant Colonel
  • Honours and Awards:

    Unit
    15th Australian Infantry Brigade
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Temporary Brigadier General
    London Gazette
    01 January 1917 on page 5 at position 3
    Commonwealth Gazette
    29 June 1917 on page 1389 at position 3

Timeline

Date of birth 19 June 1878 West Charlton, VIC.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1898 Enlisted as a private in a squadron of the 4th Victorian Contingent, the Imperial Bushmen.
Date commissioned 1900 Obtained a commission as a lieutenant in the 2nd Berkshire, but chose to remain with the Australians.
Date of honour or award 1900 Awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for his particpation in an attack on a Boer force which resulted in the capture of 33 men and 54 horses.
Other 1900-05 Arrived in South Africa and promoted to corporal.
Date returned to Australia 1901-07
Other 1901-08 Sailed again for South Africa and joined the Border Scouts.
Date and unit at appointment (Officers) 1904-03 Enlisted in the 5th Australian Infantry Regiment and commissioned as a lieutenant.
Date promoted 1911 Appointed major and second in command of the Regiment.
Date promoted 01 July 1913 Appointed lieutenant colonel and commanding officer of the 58th Battalion, Essendon Rifles.
Other 1914-08 Selected to command the 7th Battalion when the AIF was formed.
Date of embarkation 19 October 1914
Date promoted 01 March 1915 Appointed to brigadier general and given the task of organising the 15th Brigade.
Date wounded 25 May 1915 Wounded in the ankle at Gallipoli and evacuated.
Other 02 June 1915 Returned to the 7th Battalion.
Other 1915-08 Evacuated to England with pleurisy.
Date of recommendation honour or award 13 August 1915
Other 22 November 1915 Returned to the 7th Battalion.
Other 18 December 1915 Evacuated from Gallipoli with a sprained ankle.
Other units 24 January 1916 Appointed to command the 1st Brigade.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1916-03
Date promoted 1916-03 Appointed Brigadier General and commanding officer of 15th Brigade.
Date of recommendation honour or award 12 October 1916
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917
Date of honour or award 01 January 1917 Gazetted Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (CMG).
Date of honour or award 15 February 1917 Gazetted Russian Order of St Anne - 3rd Class.
Date of honour or award 1917-03 Awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO).
Date of recommendation honour or award 09 March 1917
Date of recommendation honour or award 27 June 1917
Date of recommendation honour or award 08 March 1918
Date of honour or award 03 June 1918 Gazetted a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB).
Date of recommendation honour or award 25 September 1918
Date of recommendation honour or award 27 September 1918
Date of honour or award 07 January 1919 Gazetted French Croix de Guerre.
Date of recommendation honour or award 31 January 1919
Date returned to Australia 05 May 1919
Other 1919-09 Reappointed to command the 15th Militia Brigade.
Other 1921 Requested to be placed on the unattached list.
Other 1926 Again reappointed to command the 15th Brigade.
Date promoted 1927-08 Promoted to major general and appointed to command the 3rd Division.
Date of death 23 March 1931 Died from a wound to the arm, an inquest returning a verdict of suicide.