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 ME HQ

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.

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Rolls and Awards

  • Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Date of embarkation: 21 October 1914
  • Place of embarkation: Melbourne
  • Rank: Lieutenant
  • Date of embarkation: 16 March 1916
  • Place of embarkation: Melbourne
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: AIF ME HQ
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Awarded: Member of the Order of the British Empire
  • Unit: War Records Sec
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Officer of the Order of the British Empire
  • Unit: General List
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Private Record

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.