Frederick Talbot CROCKER


CROCKER, Frederick Talbot

Service Numbers: Not yet discovered
Enlisted: 13 February 1915
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: Not yet discovered
Born: Violet Town, Victoria, Australia, 13 June 1876
Home Town: Violet Town, Strathbogie, Victoria
Schooling: Violet Town State School
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Broncho-pneumonia, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 9 May 1915, aged 38 years
Cemetery: Violet Town Public Cemetery
Memorials: Violet Town Honour Roll, Violet Town St Dunstan's Honor Roll
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World War 1 Service

13 Feb 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Lieutenant

Help us honour Frederick Talbot Crocker's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.


CROCKER Frederick Talbot LT
8th Light Horse

About 1893 when he was 17 William Dening Crocker (‘Willie’ to his family and friends) left the comforts of home at ‘Ashcombe Farm’ in Somerset, England for a job in Dover. Three years later he decided to emigrate and seek his fortune on the Ballarat gold fields.  It didn’t take him long to realise that the miners needed supplies to survive,  so he bought the necessary transport and built up his own carting business. He met Drusilla Swailes Sanderson and married her in 1907; the couple moved to Violet Town and bought the store next to Flo Williams.

Together they raised eight children of whom Frederick Talbot was the seventh child and youngest son. By the time Fred was born the family had moved out to Honeysuckle Creek Station, a few miles south-east of Violet Town. He and his brothers were educated at the Violet Town State School. His sisters would have been educated at home.

In 1905 when the Honeysuckle Creek station was divided among the sons Fred became the owner of ‘The Gorge’, the southern-most portion of the run. He built a house there which still stands today, using some of the bricks from the store in Violet Town which had been abandoned in 1875. He married Maud Alice Willis in 1907; together they raised a son, Willis Talbot born in 1909, two daughters, Beatrice Alice known as Betty born in 1911, and Frances Margaret born in 1913.

In 1897 Fred became a member of E Company 1st Battalion Victorian Mounted Rifles, Permanent Group, Violet Town Detachment, J Group. In April 1904, after 15 years in the VMR and the ALH he received a commission. In February 1915, just before Fred enlisted in the AIF, the young Crocker family moved to Melbourne. A manager was appointed at ‘The Gorge’ until the property was sold in 1920.

Fred was due to embark on Palerma on 7 May, but he had contracted measles, developing into bronco-pneumonia from which he died on 9 May.  A military funeral with gun carriage and firing party supplied by the No 2 Battery RAFA left his residence at 3 pm of 10 May for Spencer Street station.  From the Violet Town station the cortege proceed to the cemetery led by a representative from 16 Light Horse and members of the Masonic Lodge.

Two extracts from the Euroa Advertiser, the first dated Friday 30 April 1915 relate the rapidity of events leading to Fred’s unexpected death.


Many Violet Town and Euroa friends warmly greeted LT F D Crocker who has been placed in charge of the reinforcements for the 8th Regiment.  The men going under him are a fine active body, and should give a good account of themselves later on.  LT Crocker, although suffering from a severe cold, is in high spirits.  His experience with the Light Horse and close acquaintance with Military affairs generally, justify the hope that he will prove himself to be a capable officer under war conditions.  He carries the unbounded confidence of his men, and the best wishes of the entire district go with him.’

Two weeks later on Friday 14 May the Euroa Advertiser reported the sudden death of LT Crocker from what at first appeared to be a cold, developed into bronco-pneumonia and ended in his death on 10 May.

‘Only last week we congratulated LT F T Crocker, Violet Town, on being placed in charge of the reinforcements going to the war, and expressed on behalf of the district the satisfaction with which the appointment had been received, the confidence of the men in their officer.   At the same time we noted that the LT was suffering from a severe cold. He was then in the district on leave, but subsequently returned to camp.  Almost immediately the symptoms of an attack of pneumonia were noted, and the officer was removed to his home in Melbourne for treatment and nursing. The disease, however, made rapid strides, despite all that medical skill could do, and death intervened early on Sunday morning.  The sad news was telephoned to Violet Town where it caused a deep sensation.  His brothers, Messrs R D and W Crocker went to Melbourne on Monday morning and made arrangements for the removal of the body to Violet Town for interment on Tuesday in the local cemetery.  The late LT Crocker was a native of the place, and had lived the greater part of his life on the Honeysuckle Creek.  He was known to everyone and held in high esteem as a neighbour and citizen. An accomplished horseman, he did long and excellent service in military circles ‘winning his spurs’ by his work in the Light Horse Regiment. He had arranged that his wife and three children should reside in Melbourne during his absence at the war, but the insecurity of man’s plans has been lamentably illustrated by the sudden and unlooked-for summons of the “rider on the pale horse.” Mrs Crocker and relatives have the deepest sympathy of the townspeople in their heavy bereavement. There was a large attendance at the funereal obsequies on Tuesday morning. The mournful cortege moved from the railway station on arrival of the train from Melbourne, members of the Masonic Lodge marching in front, together with Warrant officer S J Wallace representing Major J I Martin, OC 16th Light Horse who was unable to reach Violet Town in time. The Rev D A McEachern conducted the burial service of the Church of England and delivered a short discourse on ‘Death’ in which his certain belief that there is no such thing as death in the ordinary acceptance  of the word, change only marked the entrance of man to enlarged powers of life and activity in another state of being. The ceremony peculiar to the “brethren of the mystic tie” followed.  The funeral arrangements were well supervised by Riddell’s.’

A Memorial Plaque and Scroll were sent to his widow.

In 2013 a memorial tree – Hakea petiolaris – planted in Orchid Street was tended by several of Fred’s grandchildren.

© Sheila Burnell, December 2015