Biography

Birth date: 19 June 1878
Birth place: Australia: Victoria, Charlton
Death date: 23 March 1931
Death place: Australia: Victoria
Final rank: Brigadier General
Service number: 624 - First World War, 1914-1918
121 - South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
Units:
  • 7 Battalion
  • Staff
  • 5th Australian Division
  • 1st Australian Infantry Brigade
  • 15th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • 7th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • 40th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • 58th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Victorian Imperial Bushmen

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.

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Rolls and Awards

  • Rank: Private
  • Unit: Victorian Imperial Bushmen
  • Conflict: South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
  • Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
  • Date of embarkation: 19 October 1914
  • Place of embarkation: Melbourne
  • Unit: 5th Australian Division
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Order of the Bath
  • Unit: 15th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: 5th Australian Division
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: 1st Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Brevet Colonel
  • Unit: 58th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: 7th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Military Medal
  • Unit: 40th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 15th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 15th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Order of the Bath
  • Unit: 15th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Distinguished Service Order
  • Unit: 15th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 7th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 15th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Russian Order of St Anne, Third Class
  • Unit: 15th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 15th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Order of St Michael and St George
  • Unit: 15th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Staff
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Distinguished Conduct Medal
  • Unit: Victorian Imperial Bushmen
  • Conflict: South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 15th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Victorian Imperial Bushmen
  • Conflict: South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
  • Awarded: Order of the Bath
  • Unit: 15th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Distinguished Service Order
  • Unit: 15th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 15th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 15th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 15th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 7th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: French Croix de Guerre
  • Unit: 15th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Private Record

Photograph

Digitised Collection

Timeline

Date of birth 1878-06-19 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 1913-07-01 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 1914-10-19
Date promoted 1915-03-01 Appointed to brigadier general and given the task of organising the 15th Brigade.
Date wounded 1915-05-25 Wounded in the ankle at Gallipoli and evacuated.
Other 1915-06-02 Returned to the 7th Battalion.
Other 1915-08 Evacuated to England with pleurisy.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1915-08-13
Other 1915-11-22 Returned to the 7th Battalion.
Other 1915-12-18 Evacuated from Gallipoli with a sprained ankle.
Other units 1916-01-24 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 1916-10-12
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917
Date of honour or award 1917-01-01 Gazetted Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (CMG).
Date of honour or award 1917-02-15 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 1917-03-09
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917-06-27
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-03-08
Date of honour or award 1918-06-03 Gazetted a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB).
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-09-25
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-09-27
Date of honour or award 1919-01-07 Gazetted French Croix de Guerre.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1919-01-31
Date returned to Australia 1919-05-05
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 1931-03-23 Died from a wound to the arm, an inquest returning a verdict of suicide.