My husband Greg’s maternal grandfather Arthur Sullivan (1891-1975) enlisted in the Australian Army on 22 July 1915. He had married in 1913 and had two small daughters.

1915 Arthur and family

Photograph of Arthur and his wife Stella and their two eldest daughters Lil and Vi. From the collection of one of Greg’s cousins.

The Gallipoli landings were reported in the newspapers in May 1915. Recruiting advertisements began to appear, offering attractive rates of pay, including additional amounts for wives and children.

Display Advertising (1915, June 10). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 6. Retrieved from


Arthur served on the Western Front as a sapper with the Fifth Pioneers. He returned to Australia from France in February 1918, invalided out with ‘debility’. His daughter Marjorie (1920-2007),  Greg’s mother, told me that her father suffered from shell shock after the war. As a little girl she was given the task of sitting with him when he got the horrors.

I viewed Arthur’s repatriation files in the National Archives at Melbourne. In 1931 Arthur was reported as suffering from a problem with his hands. The letters and reports of examination are extensive. His physical problems were deemed to be unrelated to his war experiences, however, and so he was granted only a minimal pension. Arthur is described in the files as a very thin grey-haired man. He was only 40.

The Great Depression, of course, came next, but Arthur and his family saw it out, and he lived in modest comfort with his wife Stella, mostly in Castlemaine, Victoria. They died in 1975: Arthur died on 11 September, 23 days after the death of Stella.

Sullivan Arthur repatriation - 91

One of the pages from NAA: B73, SULLIVAN, Arthur – Service Number – 4272



  • National Archives of Australia (NAA): B2455, SULLIVAN Arthur : Service Number – 4272 : Place of Birth – Bentleigh VIC : Place of Enlistment – Melbourne VIC : Next of Kin – (Wife) SULLIVAN Stella E G
  • NAA: B73, SULLIVAN, Arthur – Service Number – 4272
  • As an example of the reporting of the Gallipoli landings see (1915, May 3). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 8. Retrieved from

Related posts