Posted By erin on September 2, 2014
This year marks 100 years since the beginning of World War One. Many local families of the time sent their sons, brothers, fathers, husbands and uncles to war, not knowing if they would ever see them again. There were many Ipswich men who joined the war effort between 1914 and 1918, and one such gentleman was George William Elliott.
George Elliott was born in Amberley, just outside of Ipswich in December 1894 to William and Jane Elliott. Growing up in Amberley, George received his primary schooling at the local State School as did his older brother Claude Leslie Elliott, who also served during the war as a Sapper. At 21 years of age in January 1916 George, who was then operating as a carpenter, enlisted at Brisbane in the Australian Imperial Force. He was unmarried at this stage and therefore listed his next of kin as his mother Mrs Jane Elliott of Amberley. According to his Attestation Papers George had previously undergone two years compulsory military training through Senior Cadets and was of a solid 5 feet 8 inches tall with a ‘fresh’ complexion and brown hair.
After enrolling and initial medical examinations George was sent to complete military training in Brisbane which he completed from the period of January 1916 to May 1916. Finally, on the 7th of September 1916 George was sent via boat to Rollestone, England, where he joined the 7th Training Battalion in November of 1916. After a brief stop, George continued onto France arriving in Etaples on the 4th of December 1916. From here he joined the 25th Australian Field Battalion. War records show little of George Elliott’s movements during the period of late December 1916 and early October 1917, however it is believed that the Battalion was located close to Zonnebeke, France during this time.
After spending several months fighting in France George was declared Missing in Action on the 4th of October 1917. During the period of October 1917 and July 1918 numerous investigations were carried out by the Board of Enquiry and the Red Cross Society to establish the occurrences that led to these events. Many fellow Battalion members were interviewed to establish if George was missing or deceased. On the 16th of July 1918 George William Elliott was declared Killed in Action after numerous first-hand accounts of his death surfaced in the enquiry. Several reports indicate thus:
H. Fairon statement made on 27th May, 1918:
“……he was detailed to guide a party out to the support line. I was with a separate party following in rear. I noticed a number of shells fall at the head of leading column. The column halted & then moved on. No call was made on the stretcher bearers, so we concluded that no one was hurt. When passing I saw some bodies, but this was common along the track. I did not think they were our troops. It was not till the next morning that I found out Elliot was missing. You must understand that there is always a certain amount of confusion when moving in the dark, and the dropping out of one man would not be noticed…..”
F.G. Burns statement made 7th of January 1918:
“As we were coming out on the night of the 5th (October) a shell burst in front of the Cy. (Company) and Elliott was missing….. he came over with me from Brisbane Sep. 7th 1916. He came from Ipswich. I was in camp with him in Brisbane for 4 months and with him all through…”
In September 1918, after nearly a year with no word regarding their son’s disappearance, Mr and Mrs Elliott were informed of his demise. George’s only personal possessions were sent home: a bible, a belt and a note book. George William Elliot’s body was never found, and as such he has no final resting place in either France or Australia, as was the case for many troops who fought in The Great War. Although George has no grave he is commemorated on the Amberley Honour Stone and the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium. He received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, as well as a memorial plaque, memorial scroll and book entitled “Where the Australian’s Rest”. Items such as these are in the first instance given to the next of kin however this was not possible as George’s mother Jane Elliott passed away in May 1919 before they could be awarded. As such William Elliott, George’s father, was permitted to accept on her behalf. George was just one of the many people, both soldiers and civilians, who lost their lives as a result of this war, and today we remember their sacrifices.
Information retrieved from: The Amberley Honour Stone by Edwin Habben; Ipswich & District Roll of Honour World War 1 by Edwin Habben; National Archives of Australia World War 1 Records for George William Elliott; Australian War Memorial Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing file for George William Elliott.