Researcher Alf Batchelder
"In 1947, the Committee of the Melbourne Cricket Club approved a proposal to erect bronze plaques bearing the names of Members who had died in the two World Wars but, by 1949, the idea of naming the World War I dead had been abandoned in favour of an “appropriate inscription making reference to those Members who died in the 1914/18 War”.
It is possible to discern reasons for this change. While a list of those “Killed in Action, Died of Wounds, &c” was published in the 1918-19 Annual Report, it contained inaccuracies and omitted several names. The nature of the fighting in World War I meant that considerable time passed
before the Club became aware of the deaths of some Members. In addition, many whose health had been destroyed in the War, and particularly those affected by gas, did not die immediately from their afflictions. Such cases clearly presented the biggest difficulty in producing a definitive World War I Honour Roll for the MCC. What was the cut-off point for inclusion? Further complications arose from servicemen whose deaths occurred during the influenza pandemic of 1918-19. Consequently, it would seem that the symbolic design was chosen because the Club was unwilling to risk omitting any names.
In producing this Honour Roll, I have added several Members whose names were not on the Club’s list of 1918-19. In World War II, 2415 Members (out of about 8300) were in uniform. Of these, 141 lost their lives On Active Service; five others, all civilians, were also killed. At the start of World War I, the MCC had 5449 Members. This 1914-18 Roll of Honour contains 137 names. Though a lower figure than that for the Second World War, it should be noted that it represents a
toll of over 12 per cent of the 1088 who enlisted, compared with a figure of about six per cent for 1939-45.
Special thanks are due to Mrs Eileen Quaile, whose inquiry sparked this project; Allan Box, Perce Bailey and Harry Zachariah; John Batchelder for his computer assistance; Dianne Rutherford of the Australian War Memorial; Lachlan McLean of the Directorate of Naval Officers’ Postings;
and to all of my colleagues in the MCC Library for their patience and support, especially Eric Panther and David Allen. Above all, I am grateful to the Club for making it possible to lift the veil of anonymity from those 137 Members who lost their lives. Again, I hope that my research has given some truth to the lines of Dame Mary Gilmore:
They are not dead; not even broken;
Only their dust has gone back home to the earth;
For they, the essential they, shall have rebirth
Whenever a word of them is spoken."