This blog is a companion to the Database of Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington

Thursday, January 21, 2016

3rd Pioneer Bandsman identified

 Going through her grandfather Ern Crouch's photos, Judy Williams located the above photo, about which she said, "Grandpa had written on the back of this photo "One of the bandboys of the 3rd Australian Pioneer Batt".  The photo is signed "Yours Truly Moule 8 Aug 16"."  

Judy's first thought was that the signature said "Monte", but compared with the other letters in the writing veered towards the thought that the name was Moule. Unfortunately there was no Moule listed in the 3rd Pioneers.

I thought there might be a first initial in the signature - perhaps it said J Coute or Coule?  Wanting to get a better look at the signature, I did a little photoshopping, after which the signature looked like this.    
The first letter of the name did seem to be M, but I thought it would be unusual for someone to sign a card just with their surname - a first initial with a surname, or just a first name would be more usual  The other possibility was Judy's suggestion of a nickname, so taking Monte as being a nickname for Montgomery, I searched in the Embarkation Rolls for someone with the name Montgomery in the 3rd Pioneer Battalion, and found Montgomery Goodall Elrington.  Although born in Echuca,  he was living in Moonee Ponds when he enlisted, which was a bonus for me. 

The B2455 confirmed that Elrington was a bandsman with the 3rd Pioneers, but could I confirm his nickname was Monte?  It eventually occurred to me that Trove might help out here, so I did a simple search on "Monte Elrington" - and up came an immediate result:

"I am still alive, and doing tip top," Private Monte Elrington writes to his sister, Mrs. M'Cartney, Moama, from France on June 11. "We are just out on a few days' rest after a push our boys were in, and did well. I was stretcher bearing, and was up with them. Our casualties were light. Old Fritz had a rough time. A lot wore blown up with mines. I had a look at the, crater of one of the biggest, and it was surprising. There were Huns lying everywhere. It demoralised them. Our division took a lot of prisoners. Some of them are very weedy. Our infantry were like young lions, and would stop at nothing. I saw one small Australian taking five prisoners home across No Man's Land, and he did seem proud."

"LIKE YOUNG LIONS.". (1917, September 15). Echuca and Moama Advertiser and Farmers' Gazette (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 4. Retrieved January 21, 2016, from

 Judy's grandfather and great-uncle, Ern and Bill Crouch of Murtoa had been in the Depot Band based at Victoria Barracks since December 1915, as had Monte Elrington.  It wasn't until February 1916 that all three had joined the 3rd Pioneer Battalion.   Ern had a photo of the Depot Band but it is difficult to identify Monte in that photo. 

Ern also had a long portrait of the 3rd Pioneer Battalion Headquarters Company, including the band, and I have made a provisional identification of someone I think is Monte Elrington, which you can see marked here

If anyone can help with this identification, or any of the others in the 3rd Pioneer Headquarters Battalion or the Depot Band, please get in touch.