William Keith ELTHAM


ELTHAM, William Keith

Service Number: 1982
Enlisted: 26 August 1914, An original of 9th Battery
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 1st Field Artillery Brigade
Born: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 11 October 1886
Home Town: Hobart, Tasmania
Schooling: Queens College, Hobart, Tasmania
Occupation: Clerk
Died: Killed in action, France, 31 December 1916, aged 30 years
Cemetery: Guards Cemetery, Lesboeufs, Picardie
Plot VIII, Row N, Grave No. 10
Memorials: Hobart Roll of Honour, Tasmanian Amateur Athletics Association
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World War 1 Service

26 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Gunner, SN 1982, 3rd Field Artillery Brigade , An original of 9th Battery
20 Oct 1914: Involvement Gunner, SN 1982, 3rd Field Artillery Brigade
20 Oct 1914: Embarked Gunner, SN 1982, 3rd Field Artillery Brigade , HMAT Geelong, Hobart
31 Dec 1916: Involvement Lieutenant, 1st Field Artillery Brigade

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Biography contributed by Stephen Brooks

On his Roll of Honour form his father stated, "He represented Tasmania in cricket against England, South Africa, Victoria and New South Wales. He was a cartoonist and black and white sketches. Some of his works were published in Australian Newspapers and CW Beans Book."

Cricketer William Keith Eltham played for Tasmania against Victoria, New South Wales and England and achieved great success as a batsman.

Eltham was a regular member of the Tasmanian cricket team from 1909-10 and 1913-1914.

Eltham originally played cricket with the old Wellington Club. When district cricket was introduced in 1905, he joined the West Hobart Club where he was one of its principal mainstays until he enlisted on 26 August 1914.  Eltham embarked on 20 October 1914.

While serving in the Dardenelles, in July 1917, Lieutenant Eltham was wounded by shrapnel in the mouth. After being discharged from hospital he rejoined his unit at Gallipoli on 9 October 1915.

Lieutenant Eltham was wounded in action on 5 November 1916 and killed in action on 31 December 1916 at about midday in France.  He was buried the same night in a small cemetery about 1371 metres from the small village of Flers. The village was destroyed during the war.  At the time of Lieutenant Eltham’s burial approximate coordinates for his grave were recorded.

Before enlisting, Lieutenant Eltham was employed as a clerk with the City Engineer at the Hobart City Council. The Hobart Town Hall flag was flown at half-mast to honour the memory of a man The Critic, Hobart, 12 January 1917, described as “a trusted official, a true comrade, and a heroic soldier.”

In an article entitled “Lieut Keith Eltham killed”, The Referee Sydney 17 January 1917 page 13 wrote:

“In the deaths of Lionel Butler and Keith Eltham Tasmania has lost two of its ablest cricketers.”

The Hobart City Council honoured Lieutenant Eltham on 11 November 2015 by naming a new sporting pavilion at the Soldiers Memorial Oval, on the Queens Domain, Hobart, after their former employee and a well-known sporting identity. The Friends of Soldiers Memorial Avenue suggested the pavilion be named after William Keith Eltham. Relatives of Lieutenant Eltham attended the official opening.

(Biography extracted from webpage of Centenary of Anzac, Tasmania Remembers 2014-2018)