Elliott families’ sons victims of war

TO LOSE one son must leave a terrible hole in a family, but to lose more than one son would be a tragedy indeed.

During the First World War some families lost three or more sons, or perhaps an only son.

Two Elliott families in our area each lost two sons.

It is not known whether these families were related - perhaps they were cousins. One family lived in Empire Vale, and the other in Numulgi.

Alexander and Mary Elliott had 13 children, including six sons, three of whom enlisted in the First World War.

Three of the older sons, William Samuel (born 1884) and John Henry (born 1886) and Frank (born 1893) enlisted in 1916, John and Frank on the same day joining the 25th Battalion. William joined the 52nd Battalion.

Prior to the War they were all farmers at Numulgi. None were married.

Frank Elliott returned home, possibly wounded, in December 1918.

John Henry had died in June 1918 after being wounded at Querrieu which is in the Somme.

William Samuel had been killed in action two months earlier, in April 1918 near the village of Villers-Bretonneux, France.

Pte Walter Vivian Elliott, died Gallipoli, 1915.
Pte Walter Vivian Elliott, died Gallipoli, 1915.

He is buried in the Adelaide Cemetery in that place. This is the village in France which has an annual commemoration on Anzac Day for all the Australian soldiers who died there.

Samuel Henry and Elizabeth Elliott also lost two of their sons.

Their family came to our area in the early 1900s from South-west NSW, and the children had been born in Temora, Batlow, and Cootamundra.

They had eight children, including five sons. One son died in infancy. Of the remaining four sons, three enlisted in the First World War.

William (born 1891) was the first to enlist in February 1915. Walter Vivian (born 1888) followed in June 1915 but Wilfred Henry Leon, the youngest son, had to wait until January 1916 when he was 18 years of age before he could enlist.

They were all farmers at Empire Vale, and, like the sons of Alexander and Mary, were unmarried.

Wilfred and William Elliott were attached to a Light Horse Regiment while Walter was with the 26th Infantry Battalion.

Wilfred returned home in 1919. Walter was killed in action at Gallipoli in November 1915 aged 27, shortly before the withdrawal from the peninsula.

His war had lasted only a few weeks as he had sailed from Brisbane in August 1915.

He was originally buried in the New Zealand Point Cemetery but was later re-interred in the Ari Burnu Cemetery, Gallipoli.

William had a much longer war.

He left Australia aged 24, and found himself in Gallipoli in May 1915.

It could be said that he was luckier than his elder brother.

He was in a unit sent to attack the Turkish trenches opposite Quinn's Post.

The first assault was mown down and the officer commanding the attack decided it was futile to continue.

He withdrew his men and saved many lives.

William left Gallipoli in September and returned to Egypt and resumed his role as a mounted trooper.

He was involved in many battles with the Turkish army and died of wounds in Palestine in July 1918.

He is buried in the Jerusalem War Cemetery, Israel.

Frank Elliott died in 1960, and Wilfred Elliott died in Brisbane in 1952.

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