TRELOAR, John Linton

Service Numbers: 5, VX39804
Enlisted: 16 August 1914, Melbourne, Victoria
Last Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Last Unit: AIF Headquarters
Born: Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 10 December 1894
Home Town: Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria
Schooling: Albert Park State School-Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Occupation: Australian Department of Defence-Staff Clerk / WW1-AIF-Major / WW2-2nd AIF-HQ Middle East-Lieutenant-Colonel / Museum Director.
Died: Illness, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia , 28 January 1952, aged 57 years
Cemetery: Woden (Canberra) Public Cemetery, ACT
Returned soldiers section
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World War 1 Service

16 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 5, Melbourne, Victoria
22 Oct 1914: Embarked SN 5, Headquarters Staff, HMAT Orvieto, Melbourne
22 Oct 1914: Involvement SN 5, Headquarters Staff
25 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Warrant Officer, SN 5, 1st Division Headquarters, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
16 Mar 1916: Involvement Lieutenant, No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
16 Mar 1916: Embarked Lieutenant, No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, HMAT Orsova, Melbourne
1 Jan 1919: Involvement Major, No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
18 Jul 1919: Discharged Major, No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
23 Jul 1919: Honoured Member of the Order of the British Empire, Honours & Awards: 23/07/1919, (MBE) Member of the Order of the British Empire, Commonwealth of Australia Gazette - Pg-1172, Pos-15; London Gazette: 15/04/1919, Pg-4990, Pos-2.
6 Oct 1919: Honoured Officer of the Order of the British Empire, Honours & Awards: 06/10/1919, (OBE) Officer of the Order of the British Empire, Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, Pg-1463, Pos-53; London Gazette: 03/06/1919, Pg-7004, Pos-30.

World War 2 Service

19 Feb 1941: Enlisted Lieutenant, SN VX39804, AIF Headquarters, Royal Park-Melbourne, VIC, Australia
19 Feb 1941: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Lieutenant Colonel, SN VX39804
30 Jun 1942: Honoured Mention in Dispatches, Honours & Awards: 30/06/1942, (MID) Mention in Despatches, London Gazette, Pg-2857, Pos-26.
18 Feb 1947: Discharged Lieutenant Colonel, SN VX39804, AIF Headquarters

Help us honour John Linton Treloar's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by David Barlow

Two entries on the AIF Project: 

Staff Sergeant John Linton Treloar Regimental Number 5 went Overseas with Head Quarters 1st Australian Division on 21 October 1914 and he returned to Australia 4 December 1915

He went to France in March 1916 as a Lieutenant with C Flight of Number 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps and returned to Australia 18 July 1919 as a Major with the award of an OBE

He was the second director of the Australian War Memorial (AWM)  

Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From Ballarat & District in the Great War


Public servant and director of the Australian War Memorial, John Linton Treloar, had more than a passing connection to Ballarat and district. He was born in Port Melbourne on 10 December 1894, the fourth child of William Henry Treloar and his wife, Jane Freeman Caddy. Whilst his ancestry was purely Cornish, both John’s parents were born in Ballarat and district – William Treloar was born at Linton and Jane Caddy was born in Ballarat East. His maternal grandparents, Michael and Mary Caddy, remained in Ballarat until their deaths in 1910 and 1925 respectively.

John Treloar was educated at the Albert Park State School where he showed outstanding athletic ability in a variety of sports. A talented footballer, he caught the attention of VFL scouts and was invited to train with the South Melbourne club. Taking his father’s advice, John delayed a football career and took a position as a staff clerk with the Permanent Forces under the Defence Department in 1911 as a 16-year-old. It was during this period that he established an important and ultimately ongoing connection with Cyril Brudenell White.

After enlisting at the outbreak of the Great War, on 16 August 1914, John was posted as a to Divisional Staff bound for Gallipoli. He landed at ANZAC late in April 1915, but was evacuated from in September 1915, after falling seriously ill with enteric fever and suffering internal haemorrhage. The illness resulted in him being invalided home to Australia.

Having made a full recovery, John resumed duties at the Broadmeadows Camp on 16 February 1916. He had gradually worked his way through the ranks and soon received his commission as a lieutenant in the No1 Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps. His great organisational skills were put to good use as the squadron’s equipment officer.

In August 1916, John returned to Egypt, before transferring to the Western Front as confidential clerk to Brudenell White at 1st ANZAC Corps Headquarters. In May 1917 he was transferred to the War Records Section as officer in charge, organising the records, and beginning what would ultimately become a life’s work and passion.

‘…'Treloar works enormously hard', Charles Bean observed, the 'Section is simply his creation. He tries to read and criticise every unit war diary'. A 'fair-haired, pink-cheeked youngster … with very new captain's stars on his shoulder straps', Treloar represented Australia on the Imperial War Trophies Committee…’

On 1 November 1918, John Treloar was promoted to the rank of major; four days later he married Melbourne girl, Clarissa Maud Weir “Tallie” Aldridge, at the Notting Hill Wesleyan-Methodist Chapel in Lancaster Road, London. By this time, he had already been awarded the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his work.

John Treloar’s notable achievements following the end of the Great War have provided us with extensive and valuable records and a museum of world standard. Co-ordinating a large staff comprised of former soldiers, he began to classify and archive the records and documents pertaining to the AIF. This work took 14-years to complete and provided researchers and historians with ‘an archival record of remarkable detail and accessibility’ that is still in use today.

It was as the driving force behind the establishment of the Australian War Memorial, however, that John Treloar will be best remembered. He was to be the director of the AWM from 1920 to 1952.

‘…Treloar worked a six-day week and, when moved from Melbourne to Canberra, lived in rooms next to his office: only his strict observance of a Methodist Sunday and his passion for watching cricket interrupted this régime. Treloar's 'boyish ingenuous face and simple direct address' gave little indication of his shrewdness and alertness of mind. Shy and reserved, he pursued his goals with inflexible purpose.

In a period of uncertainty during the Depression, a trust fund provided crucial financial support: Bean recorded in 1929 that the fund was 'entirely due to Treloar's brain and effort'. When Bean's multi-volume Official History of Australia in the War encountered difficulties in the 1930s, the war memorial took over publication and distributed it through a government order scheme, another of Treloar's innovations…’

John and Clarissa Treloar also raised four children – two sons, Alan and Ian, and two daughters, Joan and Dawn – with Clarissa playing a major role in the upbringing as her husband devoted long hours to his work.
‘…Appointed head of the new Department of Information in September 1939, Treloar became officer-in-charge of the military history section at Army Headquarters, Melbourne, in October 1941 and began to lay the foundations for the collection of World War II records and relics. As a lieutenant-colonel and liaison officer, he worked with the Department of Information, the War Memorial Board and the 2nd A.I.F. in the Middle East. With the section absorbed by army public relations, record gathering was a shadow of that done for World War I…’

One of John Treloar’s lesser known achievements during this period was the publication of Christmas books for the troops, including "Active Service", "Soldiering On" and "Jungle Warfare."

The war years were long and hard for the Treloar family. The eldest of the siblings, Alan, served for over five years with the 2/14th Infantry Battalion. A Rhodes Scholar, Alan reached the rank of captain. Joan was a corporal with the Australian Army Medical Women’s Service, serving in an administrative capacity in Melbourne military hospitals. Ian Treloar, a warrant officer with 112 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force, was killed in action during the attack on Sicily on 7 August 1943. His aeroplane was struck by anti-aircraft guns and crashed, killing everyone onboard instantly. For the most part, Clarissa was required to deal with much of the anxiety on her own as her husband was away in Canberra.

After the war, John returned to the War Memorial, where he began the process of collating a WWII collection. He continued to work extraordinarily punishing hours, preferring to work alone and refusing to delegate. He was described as both aloof and complicated, and his ‘boyish ingenuous appearance and almost monastic seclusion at the memorial’ meant he was often underestimated. Those who knew him well realised he was both shrewd and persistent and was possessed of an ‘impish wit.’

When John Treloar died suddenly from an intestinal haemorrhage in Canberra on 28 January 1952, it was believed that his exhausting workload was a mitigating factor. The possibility of weakness caused by his battle with enteric fever in 1915 appears to have been overlooked.

In a perfect tribute to John Treloar’s contribution to the AWM, the street that circles the building, was named Treloar Crescent. His legacy to the country, however, is incalculable.

So, when next you think of the contributions of Ballarat and district to the Great War – and beyond – just remember: those connections really are limitless!