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The Empire Called and I Answered - the Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington

Page history last edited by Lenore Frost 1 year, 11 months ago


Lt Colonel H E 'Pompey' Elliott is seated in the centre of the Headquarters detail of the 7th Infantry Battalion, AIF.  This Battalion was being raised within days of the declaration of the war, and took many young volunteers from the local 58th Regiment of the Citizens Military Force, known as the Essendon Rifles.  Elliott was Commanding Officer of the Essendon Rifles when war was declared. Photo detail courtesy of Margery Burston.


Essendon and Flemington Volunteers, 1914-1918

Click above to enter the database

See 'Contact the Owner' in the footer to email.


See also my Blog The Empire Called and I Answered


Database and website created by Lenore Frost


I am a community historian (ie, not paid) living in Essendon. The content of this website is the result of nearly 25 years' research.  I began collecting material for this database of local WW1 volunteers in the early 1990s, beginning with hand transcriptions of Honour Boards in local schools, churches, clubs and so on.  It was after this that the National Archives of Australia began making digitised service records available online, followed by the Australian War Memorial putting online the Embarkation Rolls of the Australian Imperial Force. 


I found it far too difficult to match up names, usually with only initials, on Honour Boards  with the service records at the National Archives, so I worked from Embarkation Rolls.  Over a period of about two years I downloaded every Embarkation Roll for Victorian Battalions and Units, and scrolled through them looking for local addresses.  For this reason I have used the unit and rank of each soldier at Embarkation when creating the online database.  It took too long to refer to every service record, so I did that only as necessary to clarify identifications.


With respect to photos, if there is nothing on the website for your person of interest, use the tags  to check the pages for volunteers from the same Battalion.  Some of the other pages have unknown soldiers included in photos, so it is worth having a scroll through the other men's pages. Also have a look at the Albums and photo collections page.  There are currently not many albums and collections to access, but you  never know.  The other thing to do is to follow the links to the various Honour Rolls, as there may be group photos to examine where not all the names are known.


I began extracting material from the local paper, the Essendon Gazette while it was still only available on microfilm at the local library.  It became much easier when the digitised newspapers began appearing in Trove through the National Library of Australia.  Other material, especially photos, has come from the Australian War Memorial online collection.  I have also accessed local and other history publications, and have been fortunate to have very generous people share their family collection of photos, postcards and memorabilia.  I make special mention of Rod Martin who has written many stories featuring the service lives (and deaths) of many local volunteers, but I am very grateful to the other folk named on the acknowledgements page for their generous contribution to the website.


This website went online in 2009.  My plan was not to replace individuals doing their own research in the usual official records.  My plan was to provide local records not readily available to people who don't live in the local area - the Honour Rolls, church records, local history publications, and so on, and also to recreate in some way that war-time community.  You should still look through the major government repositories for records relating to your person of interest - The National Australian Archives, the Australian War Memorial, the the National Library of Australia, and state libraries and archival repositories.  There are also many many websites  popping up, so let Mr Google be your best friend.


If I come upon new and interesting sources of WW1 material, I often make reference to this in my Empire Called Blog.  You can call up each of these posts by searching on Sources in the search engine there.


I don't have special access to anything that is not readily available to any member of the public, but I do try and include material which is not readily available to people who don't live in the local area - such as the church newsletters, local history publications and the honour boards.  Anything I find I put into the website as soon as is practicable.  Generally speaking, if there is one photo of a soldier on the website, that is all I have access to, it is useless to ask me if I have anything else.  I am always adding material to the website, so it is worth paying a return visit to see if something else has been included.


And it will make the website even better if you are willing to share the results of your own research, or memorabilia you may have of local soldiers.






The call of the British Empire in 1914 reached far away Essendon on the other side of the globe. Within weeks of this call the first Australian Imperial Force volunteers were ready to leave for Europe, though in the event they were diverted to a little known Peninsula in Turkey we now know as Gallipoli.


These early volunteers preceded a large number who came from the suburbs of Essendon Moonee Ponds and Ascot Vale, as well as neighboring Flemington, Newmarket and Kensington. The life of these suburbs was so intertwined that when names were placed on a Roll of Honour in the Essendon Town Hall, it included residents of Flemington and Kensington. Likewise, the Roll of Honour published weekly in the Essendon Gazette included the names of men from surrounding suburbs, as far abroad as Keilor, Broadmeadows, and Craigieburn.


The Honour Rolls, however, overlooked many who served the Empire, and in particular failed to recognise the sacrifices of their family and friends who remained behind to wait anxiously for news, who suffered grievous losses, and who worked tirelessly to provide comforts for soldiers, clothing for refugees, and aid for sick and wounded soldiers and sailors.


A database I have been compiling for some years now includes the names of over 4,500 service volunteers. The impact of the service, not only the deaths or maiming, of these volunteers has been felt by the community for decades.


The Centenary of the landings at Gallipoli in April 1915  and the Armistice in 1918 has now passed, but it is still appropriate for us to remember the young men and women who made sacrifices for their Empire, country and community, and also remember the suffering and sacrifices of those who remained behind.


Where letters and postcards are available, I would appreciate a scan of those items to be included in the website  as a record of our community's service in the Great War. 


Items of interest are any contemporary ephemera or memorabilia associated with local people included in our database - photographs, letters, postcards, medals, badges, programs, tickets, ribbons, memorabilia, and so on. I am particularly interested in photographs taken in the local area during the period of WW1 which might show patriotic activities, or military activities, up to 1922.


The criteria for inclusion in this project is an association with the suburbs of Essendon, Ascot Vale, Moonee Ponds, Newmarket, Kensington and Flemington prior to enlistment. This association is determined by the following.


  • Next of Kin living in these areas at the time of embarkation
  • Name included on an honour board in a local church, school, town hall, club
  • Items about them in the local paper


All the names in the database included in this database have been found on embarkation rolls or local honour boards or in the local paper.  Being born in the area, or moving to the area after the war, is not a sufficient criteria. 


See also my Blog The Empire Called and I Answered

See my other Wiki     Time Travellers in Essendon, Flemington and the Keilor Plains

And the Time Travellers Blog          


Go to the lists of volunteers





This website was nominated by the Australian War Memorial for preservation in perpetuity by the National Library of Australian Pandora Web Archive.


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