Biography

Birth date: 10 December 1894
Birth place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Death date: 28 January 1952
Death place: Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra
Final rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Service number: 5 - First World War, 1914-1918
VX39804 - Second World War, 1939-1945
Units:
  • War Records Sec
  • General List
  • AIF Headquarters Middle East

The driving force behind the establishment of the Australian War Memorial, John Treloar was born on 10 December 1894 in Melbourne. After completing his schooling in 1911, Treloar joined the Department of Defence as a military staff clerk. He enlisted in the AIF in August 1914 and, after a period of training, served on Gallipoli as a staff sergeant. Having been on the peninsula since April, Treloar was evacuated in September suffering from enteric fever and was eventually invalided to Australia.

Treloar recovered his health and resumed his service, this time as a lieutenant with the role of equipment officer in No. 1 Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps. In July 1916 he was transferred to France as confidential clerk to Brigadier General Brudenell White at the 1st Anzac Corps Headquarters.

In May 1917 he began the work that would dominate the rest of his life when he was selected to organise the fledgling Australian War Records Section with the rank of captain. The section's work would form the basis of much of the Australian War Memorial's collection. Six days before the end of the war he married Clarissa Aldridge in London and, in December 1918, was promoted to major.

The war over, Treloar began the painstaking work of sorting and categorising the large body of war documents under his charge, laying the basis for the collection still used by historians and researchers to the present day. Devoted to the Australian War Memorial, Treloar became the institution's director in 1920, working tirelessly for the more than three decades and living next to his office. At times credited with keeping the Memorial going, he also ensured that the Memorial took over the publication and distribution of the 12 volume official history of Australia in the First World War, when the series encountered difficulties in the 1930s.

Treloar left his position at the Memorial during the Second World War when he was made head of the Department of Information. He took charge of the Military History Section at Army Headquarters and began the process of establishing a collection of Second World War relics and documents. He returned to the Memorial after the war and was described by one employee as the most complex character he had ever met. For the most part, however, he was aloof from his staff, working alone in his office. Unable to delegate, Treloar worked punishing hours until his death from an intestinal heomorrhage on 28 January 1952.

Rolls and Awards

First World War Embarkation Roll

  • Rank: Lieutenant
  • Date of embarkation: 16 March 1916
  • Place of embarkation: Melbourne

First World War Embarkation Roll

  • Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Date of embarkation: 21 October 1914
  • Place of embarkation: Melbourne

Honours and Awards : Mention in despatches

  • Unit: AIF Headquarters Middle East
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Honours and Awards : Member of the Order of the British Empire

  • Unit: War Records Sec
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Officer of the Order of the British Empire

  • Unit: General List
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Photograph

023405

CAIRO, EGYPT. LIEUTENANT COLONEL J.L. TRELOAR, OFFICER- IN- CHARGE OF THE MILITARY HISTORY AND INFORMATION SECTION.

023405

P09571.002

Informal portrait of members of the 1st Division Headquarters on top of the YMCA building in Cairo shortly after their arrival in Egypt. Identified are: 7 Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Herbert Louis Ferns (centre back); centre (possibly 1 Warrant Officer Harry Edmund Butler) 2 John William Donnelly; 6...

P09571.002

DAAV00012

Portrait of Lieutenant (Lt) John Linton Treloar, shortly before embarking for Europe as an administrative officer (non-flying) with the Australian Flying Corps (AFC). He had only recently recovered from dysentery and paratyphoid he contracted at Gallipoli serving as a sergeant with the 1st Division...

DAAV00012

Private Record

Treloar, John (Lieutenant Colonel, Military History and Information Section, HQ AIF (Middle East))

LETTERS FROM TRELOAR TO MISS ELIZABETH SOUTHERN REGARDING THE CONDUCT OF HIS CORRESPONDENCE IN HIS ABSENCE FROM THE WAR MEMORIAL. LETTER FROM MAJ GEN C B B WHITE TO TRELOAR REGARDING ACQUISITION OF PAPERS FOR THE MEMORIAL, 1918 Maker: Treloar, John Linton

3DRL/6587

Treloar, J L

Correspondence between J L Treloar and others relating to the business of the Australian War Memorial in it's early days, the development of the First and Second World War musuem collections, 1927 - 1998. Also included is an article written by Louise Burmester in relation to one of Treloar's... Maker: Treloar, John Linton

PR01617

Treloar, John Linton (Lieutenant, 1 Sqn AFC b: 1894 d: 1952)

DIARIES AND TRAINING NOTES DETAILING HIS EXPERIENCES (1914-1917) ON GALLIPOLI, EVACUATION TO AUSTRALIA, TRANSFER TO THE AFC AND LATER SERVICE IN FRANCE Maker: Treloar, John Linton

PR84/380

Howard, Frederick James (Major, 1904 -1984)

Collection relating to VX12841 Major Frederick James Howard, War Correspondent and Army Public Relations, Middle East and South West Pacific, 1939-1945. Collection includes Howard's original diaries and later research papers for publications including the biography of Sir Wilfrid Selwyn Kent... Maker: Howard, Frederick James

PR03644

Elliott, Harold Edward 'Pompey' (Brigadier); CB CMG, DSO, DCM, VD

Collection relating to Brigadier Harold Edward 'Pompey' Elliott, CB CMG, DSO, DCM, VD, 1901-1968. It comprises a range of papers documenting his military service in South Africa, 1900-1901; service during the First World War as commanding officer of 7 Battalion and 15 Brigade; and post war career... Maker: Elliott, Harold Edward 'Pompey'

2DRL/0513

Manuscript

The Aldridge Family

Written by Gwenyth Aldridge Steel regarding her family: Michael and Julia (her parents), Ivor and William (her brothers), herself and Clarissa (who married John Linton "Jack" Treloar). Covers the period from the mid 19th century to World War II.

MSS1715

The "digger" hat, the badge and the emu plume

Hard bound manuscript containing a handwritten transcript of Peacock's talk 'The 'Digger' hat, the badge and the emu plume' broadcast over Melbourne radio station 3UZ on Wednesday, January 4th, 1939. Includes illustrations, photographs, newspaper clippings and letters on the same subject. The...

MSS1990

Heraldry

Hermes Baby Portable Typewriter, base and lid : Lieutenant Colonel J L Treloar, Headquarters AIF

Hermes baby steel typewriter, finished in grey hammertone paint, complete with a square, shallow, steel base tray and connecting steel lid. All the keys are in black Bakelite with the exception of the two shift keys, tab and backspace keys, which are in grey. There is a reel to reel black ink...

REL45594.001

Ink bottle in cover : Lieutenant Colonel J L Treloar, Headquarters AIF

Glass ink bottle with metal screw top lid in a brown Bakelite screw top container. The words 'SWAN INK' are cast in the Bakelite lid and stand in relief.

REL45620

Digitised Collection

Letters relating to Alan Dudley Henderson, 1915-1927

Letters relating to the First World War service of Lieutenant Alan Dudley Henderson, 7th Infantry Battalion. This extract is taken from a letter written by Henderson on the eve of the landing at Gallipoli, and describes the importance that this day would have for Australia and its tradition. He and...

RCDIG0000999

Letters to the mother of Hugh Barr, 1917-1927

Letters relating to the First World War service of Sergeant Hugh Barr, 44th Battalion. Included are two condolence letters addressed to Barr’s mother from his company commander and battalion adjutant detailing the manner of his death and extolling his nature as a fine soldier. Also included in...

RCDIG0001237

Memoir of John Robert Cowan Kelly, 1969

Memoirs relating to the First World War service of Sergeant John Robert Cowan Kelly, “Elope” Force, North Russia Expeditionary Force. This memoir compiled by Kelly in 1969 covers: volunteering for “Elope” Force in early 1918; living in the Tower of London; preparations for the expedition to...

RCDIG0001264

Timeline

Date of birth 1894-12-10 Melbourne, VIC.
Date graduated 1911 Completed school and joined the Department of Defence as a military staff clerk.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1914-08-16 Enlisted in the AIF.
Date of embarkation 1914-10-21
Other 1915-04 Served at Gallipoli as a staff sergeant at Divisional Headquarters.
Other 1915-09 Was evacuated in September suffering from enteric fever.
Date returned to Australia 1915-12-04 Treloar eventually recovered his health and resumed his service this time as a lieutenant with the role of equipment officer in No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps.
Other 1916-07 Tranferred to France as a confidential clerk to Briagdier Brudnell White at the 1st Anzac Corps Headquarters.
Other 1917 Selected to organise the Australian War Records Section of the Australian War Memorial's collection.
Date promoted 1918 Promoted to major.
Date of honour or award 1918-06-03 Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).
Date of honour or award 1919-06-03 Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Date returned to Australia 1919-07-18
Other 1920 - 1952 Became the director of the Australian War Memorial.
Date and unit at appointment (Officers) 1941-01-19 Enlisted in the 2nd AIF and posted to AIF Headquarters in the Middle East.
Date of honour or award 1942-06-30 Mentioned in Despatches.
Date of discharge 1947-02-18 Discharged with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Date of death 1952-01-28 Canberra, ACT.