Pompey Elliott at war

Hobsons Bay Libraries

Event Date: 
22 November 2017
Author / Presenters: 
Ross Mc Mullin

A charismatic, controversial and outstandingly successful commander, Pompey Elliott was an accomplished tactician, exceptionally brave and renowned for never sending anyone anywhere he was not prepared to go himself. He was also forthright and volatile. His tempestuousness generated a host of anecdotes that amused his men and disconcerted his superiors. No Australian general was more revered by those he led or more famous outside his own command. His brilliant and vigorous leadership was crucial in iconic Australian triumphs such as Villers-Bretonneux and Polygon Wood, turning looming defeat into stunning victory.

Pompey expressed himself vividly in his diaries and other correspondence. He wrote rapidly and fluently, deploying fertile imagery, a flair for simile, and an engaging turn of phrase. His extraordinary letters to his young children turned even the Western Front into a bedtime story.

Ross McMullin has written an enthralling and deeply researched biography of an important but neglected Australian, providing fresh assessments of Australia at war and giving engrossing insight into Pompey Elliott, who bursts out of the page, larger than life.

McMullin has written extensively about the impact on Australia of its involvement in World War I. Dr Mc Mullin’s books include his biographies, the award-winning Pompey Elliott and Will Dyson: Australia’s radical genius. His most recent book, Farewell, Dear People: biographies of Australia’s lost generation, was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History.

Elliott is fascinating.
— Gideon Haigh, in the Age

May be the best Australian military biography yet to appear.
— Stephen Loosley, in the Sunday Telegraph