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

Monday, March 11, 2019

Rod makes a century!

A game of cricket was played on Shell Green in an attempt to distract the Turks from the imminent departure of allied troops, December 1915.  AWM G01289.
In August 2010, when my website The Empire Called and I Answered, was about 12 months old, I was contacted by Rod Martin who wondered if I would be interested in a photo of a gravestone he had taken at Walhalla?  The stone commemorated John Eddy Phillips, beloved husband of Margaret,  who had died in July 1899. The stone also commemorated their son, another John Eddy Phillips, who had been killed at Gallipoli on 8 August 1915, aged 29 years. Rod wondered if I would be interested in a copy of the photo for my website?  Yes, absolutely.  The photo duly arrived and was added to the website.

A few weeks passed, then Rod contacted me again and asked me if I would be interested if he wrote a story for my website about John Eddy Phillips?    Absolutely yes, again. 

Since that time, Rod Martin has written 100 stories for the Empire Called website, a not inconsiderable feat.  Truthfully, the number is 102, (though I will report back if Rod corrects me on this number) because I was distracted before Christmas last year and, not for the first time, dropped the ball.  But as I had planned to acknowledge and celebrate Rod's contribution to the website when he got to his century, I press on to give him my grateful thanks, and merely note his unobtrusive start towards his second century. Rod has reached his first century with an impressive average of  11 stories per year.

Rod likes to explain the context of the the situations in which each of his subjects found themselves. His most recent story is about Herbert Keam, who landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, but remains missing, assumed to have been killed in action on or about 26 April 1915.

If you visit Keam's website, you will see a tag to the right of the page for Rod Martin.  Click on that and you will get the full list of Rod's stories.  Some of my favourites include Major James Frederick Bowtell-Harris, Sergeant Robert Curwen, 2nd Lieutenant Viv Garner, Pte George Joseph O'Neill - though truthfully I enjoy all of them.  Rod also carefully winkles out great images from the AWM collection to illustrate the stories, which greatly enhances our understanding of the hardships of the war. A lot of the stories feature the men of the 7th Infantry Battalion which was closely associated with the Essendon and Flemington district, commanded in the early years by Colonel Pompey Elliott.

So once again I say a grateful thank you to Rod for his marvellous treasury of stories of the Great War, and hope that he will continue for many more to come!


  1. Lenore
    How wonderful that this came from you starting your website. Special stories from Rod that are now in writing, valued and saved.

  2. Fantastic! Thanks Rod - and Lenore. You've inspired me to get back to writing more detailed stories involving Coburg's WW1 servicemen!
    Keep on keeping on!

  3. Congratulations Rod and well done!

  4. Thank you, Flissie, Cheryl and Jenny. It is quite an achievement to celebrate, and adds a great deal of value to the website.

  5. Thankyou Flissie, Cheryl and Jenny for you comments. It is heartening to know that my stories are appreciated.



  6. I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at

    Thank you, Chris