Percy Roy (Roy) ELLIOTT

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ELLIOTT, Percy Roy

Service Number: 165
Enlisted: 19 October 1914, Morphettville, South Australia
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 3rd Field Ambulance
Born: Port Elliott, South Australia, 6 April 1884
Home Town: Taldra, Loxton Waikerie, South Australia
Schooling: North Adelaide Public School
Occupation: Clerk/Book-keeper
Died: Killed In Action, France, 11 November 1916, aged 32 years
Cemetery: Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension
Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, Dernancourt, Picardie, France
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, North Adelaide Christ Church Roll of Honour, North Adelaide Christ Church Honour Board
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World War 1 Service

19 Oct 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 165, Morphettville, South Australia
20 Oct 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 165, 3rd Field Ambulance, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
20 Oct 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 165, 3rd Field Ambulance, HMAT Medic, Adelaide
25 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 165, 3rd Field Ambulance, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
18 Jan 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Sergeant, 3rd Field Ambulance
18 Oct 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 165, 3rd Field Ambulance, Flers/Gueudecourt
11 Nov 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 165, 3rd Field Ambulance, Flers/Gueudecourt

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Biography contributed by John Edwards

"THE LATE SERGEANT P. R. ELLIOTT

Mrs. Elliott, of Archer-street, North Adelaide, has received a letter of condolence concerning the death of her son, Sergeant P. Roy Elliott, which occurred in France, from Warrant-officer James Stubbs. The letter is dated from France on November 12, 1916, and the writer mentions that he had worked with Sergeant Elliott for about two years. The deceased was esteemed by everybody for his amiable disposition. "He possessed every quality of a perfect comrade." Referring to the cause of death, the writer says that Sergeant Elliott and two other sergeants "were sleeping in the office tent, and a lance-corporal was on night duty. Shortly after midnight a hostile aeroplane dropped six bombs on the hospital tents. One bomb dropped at the door of the office tent. Poor Roy was killed instantly; the lance-oorporal died on the way to the clearing hospital, and Staff-Sergeant Bannister succumbed to his wounds the following day. Several patients were killed, and almost 40 wounded."

Sergeant H. H. O'Halloran, who was a member of the same ambulance corps as Sergeant Elliott, writing to Mrs. Elliott from France, says, inter alia:—"Poor old Roy! I knew him so well and have worked continuously with him ever since we left Australia, over two years ago. He was loved and honored by all with whom he came into contact. He was a son of whom any mother might well be proud. His loving nature and pleasing disposition made him a favourite with us all." - from the Adelaide Chronicle 27 Jan 1917 (nla.gov.au)

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Biography contributed by Sue Smith

Percy Roy Elliott was born on the 6th April 1884 in Port Elliot, South Australia, the only son and middle child of Thomas and Helen Elliott.  Dorothea was his older sister and Rita his younger sister.  He went by the name of Roy and attended the North Adelaide Public School.  After completing his schooling became a clerk and was also a parishioner of the Christ Church in North Adelaide. 

On the 19th October 1914 Roy enlisted for WW1 at Morphettville, South Australia, aged 30 years and 6 months.  His service records describe him at the time of enlistment as being 5ft 8inches tall with a fair complexion, brown eyes and brown hair and his religion as Church of England.  His service number was 165 and his initial rank was a Private with the 3rd Field Ambulance, “B” Section, as his service record clearly states but the nominal roll has him listed as a Lance Corporal.  He embarked for Egypt from Adelaide, South Australia, the very next day on the 20th October 1914 on the ship “HMAT Medic”.

On the 2nd March 1915 Roy proceeded to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, taking part in the landing at Gallipoli.  While serving at Gallipoli he was promoted to temporary Sergeant on the 3rd August.  In mid October Roy was admitted to the 3rd Field Ambulance for 3 days with influenza.  It was while he was serving at Gallipoli that he would have first met my grandfather, Cyril Morsley SN 1707, who was also serving with the 3rd Field Ambulance.  Cyril arrived at Anzac Cove on the 7th December just in time to help with the evacuation and was one of the last to leave in the early hours of the 20th.  After being evacuated from Gallipoli, Roy, suffering from rheumatic fever, was evacuated on the 22nd December on the hospital ship “Caledonia” to the 3rd Australian General Hospital at Mudros on Lemnos Island.  He spent Christmas there before being transported to Alexandria on the hospital ship “Dunvegan Castle” on the 29th December and the following day was admitted to the 2nd Australian General Hospital at Ghezireh.  He spent New Year’s Day there before being discharged the following day.  He proceeded to the overseas base at Giza then rejoined his unit, the 3rd Field Ambulance, at the Tel-el-kebir camp on the 14th January 1916.  Just 4 days later he was promoted to Sergeant Clerk.

On the 27th March 1916 the 3rd Field Ambulance embarked from Alexandria on the ship “Kingstonian” bound for France.  An entry in my grandfather’s 1916 war diary records that during the journey, on the night of the 30th, they lost overboard one of the men from their Unit, Private Percy Fennell SN 2252.  He was seen to be sleep walking then fall overboard.  The alarm was raised, the ship was stopped and a search was made for him but no trace was found.  The ship continued on and Cyril’s diary records their Unit disembarked at Marseilles on the 3rd April.

In early November 1916, during the battle of Gueudecourt, the 3rd Field Ambulance was in the thick of the bombardment.  Entries made in my grandfather’s diary over several days records they had been inundated with wounded, some very severe and some whose suffering was only brought to an end through death.  On the 9th November Cyril records in his diary that the previous night their Unit had had the heaviest night that he’d ever known with over 650 casualties having been brought in.  Then in the very early hours of the morning on the 11th November, their camp was bombed.  Roy was killed instantly and Lance Corporal Loudon McNeil SN 4027, Staff Sergeant William Bannister SN 131 and several others of their Unit were critically wounded.  They were brought into the 38th Casualty Clearing Station but later that day, sadly, McNeil and Bannister both succumbed to their injuries later which were horrific as recorded by my grandfather in his diary.  Cyril was on duty and present when Bannister died.  This is the entry my grandfather made in his diary describing what happened when the raid happened:

“Was in full swing with Medicals - Taubes overhead and shrapnel bursting all around.  Bombed our camp and at 2 o/c poor McNeil was brought in nearly dead - grasped on my arm.  Later, Staff Sergeant Bannister - fractured femur and buttock blown off.  Sergeant R. Elliott was killed and 8 other.  Patients many, 36 wounded, I dressed most, some very serious - Corporal Grieves and Baxter.” 

The following newspaper article appeared in the Adelaide Chronicle on the 27th January 1917:

“Mrs. Elliott, of Archer-street, North Adelaide, has received a letter of condolence concerning the death of her son, Sergeant P. Roy Elliott, which occurred in France, from Warrant Officer James Stubbs.  The letter is dated from France on November 12, 1916, and the writer mentions that he had worked with Sergeant Elliott for about two years.  The deceased was esteemed by everybody for his amiable disposition.  "He possessed every quality of a perfect comrade."  Referring to the cause of death, the writer says that Sergeant Elliott and two other sergeants "were sleeping in the office tent, and a Lance Corporal was on night duty.  Shortly after midnight a hostile aeroplane dropped six bombs on the hospital tents.  One bomb dropped at the door of the office tent.  Poor Roy was killed instantly; the Lance Corporal died on the way to the clearing hospital, and Staff Sergeant Bannister succumbed to his wounds the following day.  Several patients were killed and almost 40 wounded."  Sergeant H. H. O'Halloran, who was a member of the same ambulance corps as Sergeant Elliott, writing to Mrs. Elliott from France, says:- "Poor old Roy! I knew him so well and have worked continuously with him ever since we left Australia, over two years ago.  He was loved and honoured by all with whom he came into contact.  He was a son of whom any mother might well be proud.  His loving nature and pleasing disposition made him a favourite with us all."

The 3rd Field Ambulance suffered a great loss with the deaths of these 3 men on the 11th November, the date on which 2 years later was the day the guns fell silent on the Western Front after 4 years of continuous warfare.  This date, from then on, became a day of remembrance for all those who gave their lives in the war.

Roy was buried at the Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, France, plot IV, row a, grave number 25.  He was 32 years old.  His parents received 1 parcel of his personal effects in August 1917, a Memorial Scroll in 1921, a Memorial Plaque in 1922 and his war medals.

The following appeared in the Adelaide newspaper “The Advertiser” on the 12th December 1916:

“Mr. and Mrs. T. Elliott, of North Adelaide, have been officially informed that their son.  Sergeant P. R. Elliott, was killed in action in France on November 11 last.  He left Adelaide with the first Australian troops, and was slightly wounded on the foot at the landing at Gallipoli.  He remained on duty, and with the exception of a few weeks spent in hospital in Egypt, as the result of an attack of rheumatic fever, he had been at the front up to the time of his death.  He was looking forward to a few days leave in London, which had been promised.  Sergeant Elliott had been engaged in a clerical occupation in Adelaide. He was much respected and loved by all who knew him.”

Roy’s family remembered him every year on the anniversary of his death for many years afterwards by placing a Memoriam in the newspaper.

Memorials: Roy’s name appears on the following Memorials:

1.        Adelaide 1 National War Memorial

2.        North Adelaide Christ Church Honour Board

3.        North Adelaide Christ Church Roll of Honour

Percy Roy Elliott was awarded:

1914/1915 Star       13143

British War Medal   2707

Victory Medal          2707

The Anzac Commemorative Medallion was instituted in 1967 by Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt.  It was awarded to surviving members of the Australian forces who served on the Gallipoli Peninsula, or in direct support of the operations from close off shore, at any time during the period from the first Anzac Day in April 1915 to the date of final evacuation in January 1916.  Next of kin, or other entitled persons, are entitled to receive the medallion on behalf of their relatives if the medallion has not been issued.

The medallion is cast in bronze and is approximately 75 millimetres high and 50 millimetres wide.  The obverse of the medallion depicts Simpson and his donkey carrying a wounded soldier to safety.  It is bordered on the lower half by a laurel wreath above the word ANZAC.  The reverse shows a map in relief of Australia and New Zealand superimposed by the Southern Cross.  The lower half is bordered by New Zealand fern leaves.  The name and initials of the recipient is engraved on the reverse.  The medallion is issued in a presentation box.

(Australian Government - Department of Defence)

Sue Smith November 2016

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