On ANZAC Day 2021 we pause to remember those who have served in armed conflict on behalf of our nation, and especially those who made the supreme sacrifice. During the Great War 1914-1918, one Camberwell resident made a decisive contribution to the Allied war effort. We take time to honour him as one eminent, amongst many.
On November 11th 1918 the Armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany, ending the first global war, a war that made devastating use of new, deadly technology, the Great War. In his book Monash: The Outsider Who Won a War, historian Roland Perry writes that it was the decisive victory at Amiens by the combined British, Canadian and General Sir John Monash's Australian Imperial Force, that turned back the momentous German offensive that had threatened to overrun the Allies. Monash himself described the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux on 25th April 1918 after the Germans had overrun the 8th British Division as the turning point of the war.
A local man, a resident of Camberwell, was a huge contributor to the success of the AIF's campaigns on the Western Front in 1918. Major General Harold Edward Elliott, known to his men as 'Pompey' Elliott.
Elliott's leadership of the 15th Brigade, AIF, transformed a near-defeat  at Villers-Bretonneux into a victory, changing the course of the war and hastening its end.
The short biography below, taken from the Australian War Memorial website, gives an overview of the remarkable life and remarkable contribution of this outstanding Australian to whom we owe so much.
Pompey Elliott lived at 56 Prospect Hill Road, East Camberwell. He had a distinguished career serving in the Senate after returning from the Great War, but suffered from post traumatic stress disorder attributed to the horrific toll on human life that he had both witnessed and overseen. He tragically committed suicide while an inpatient at a hospital in Malvern, just thirteen years after his triumph at Villers-Bretonneux.
Elliott's funeral took place on 25 March 1931. He was 52 years of age. Following a short service at his home, his casket was drawn, with full military honours, including bands and an escort party, on a gun carriage pulled by horses resplendent with black plumes, to the Burwood Cemetery in Burwood Highway, East Burwood, a march of some four miles. Stanley Bruce, whose Prime Ministership had come to an end in late 1929, marched as a common returned soldier. Reports in the newspapers of the time state that several thousand people followed the cortège and lined the parade route.  The parade was led by Rear Admiral William Munro Kerr, with Brigadier Generals Charles Brand, Thomas Blamey and J. C. Stewart. Fittingly, his grave bares the epitaph (from Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’) "This was a man".
Major General Harold Edward "Pompey" Elliott, CBCMGDSODCMVD (1878–1931)
An inspiring and outspoken leader, Elliott was a Boer War veteran with extensive military experience. Even so, he was acutely pained by the enormous losses sustained by his men at Fromelles.
An exceptional fighting leader, brave, explosive and blunt, Elliott was worshipped by his men. He later became obsessed with the perceived injustice of not getting a higher command.
Elliott had already received the Distinguished Conduct Medal for bravery in the Boer War before commanding a battalion on Gallipoli and later the 15th Brigade in France and Belgium. The war historian Charles Bean reflected: “What a brigade he made of the 15th! … In his exuberant vitality he overworked them, strafed them, punished them; and yet they would do anything he asked of them.”
Elliott was wounded on the first day on Gallipoli and maintained a reputation as a fighting leader, always close to the action, throughout the war.  He was devoted to his troops and always concerned for them.  In France, following the disastrous attack at Fromelles in July 1916 he was seen greeting the brigade’s survivors with tears streaming down his face.  In the following years his brigade saw some of the heaviest fighting on the Western Front.
In 1917, when his battalions were pursuing the Germans to the Hindenburg Line Elliott had to be ordered to slow down.  Later he performed brilliantly, commanding his brigade in attack at the battle of Polygon Wood.  His counter-attack at Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918 was decisive in holding the German advance there.  By September he was leading his brigade in the final actions against the Hindenburg Line.  His exploits became famous, particularly in his home state of Victoria.

A head-strong character, Elliott constantly confronted his superiors; his forcefulness was often unwise, his claims sometimes foolhardy.  After the war, as a National Party senator, he spoke bitterly against those he blamed for withholding his higher promotion. I n 1927 he became a major general in command of a militia division, but for him it was too little too late. Obsessed by his sense of injustice, and feeling the strain of war service, politics, and business, his health broke down and in March 1931 he committed suicide.

Recommended reading about the life of Harold 'Pompey' Elliott: Pompey Elliott by Ross McMullin