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CARROLL, Eric John Leonard (1898-1979)

CARROLL, Eric John Leonard (1898-1979)

Eric John Leonard Carroll was educated firstly at Miss Clanchy’s Central College in Geelong, before enrolling as a day student at Geelong College in 1912, staying until December 1914, and later as a boarder at Xavier College, Melbourne from 1915 to 1916. His entry address was Buckland Avenue, Geelong.

He spent three years in the cadets in Geelong and then a year in The University of Melbourne Rifles. At Xavier College he represented his school in rowing in 1916, football and athletics. He also helped form a branch of the St Vincent de Paul Society which was run entirely by the students to raise funds for orphanages and hospitals.

Enlisting (No 16181) in the AIF on 18 October 1917, he served in the Australian Flying Corps, then transferred to the 5th Auxillary Motor Transport Company, embarking from Sydney on HMAT A54 Runic on 22 March 1918. He served as a driver.

Eric Carroll wrote from France in mid-1918, from Rouen, where he was stationed with the Motor Transport Division, part of this letter was quoted in the Geelong Advertiser on 17 October 1918:
'There was plenty of work, and they were under orders to move nearer the firing line. The food restictions in England are still very strict, but everything seems much more plentiful in France. There the boys get an abundance of sugar, milk, jam, etc, things that are considered a great luxury in England. The scenery around Rouen is most picturesque, a great attraction to all the soldiers being a beautiful church over 600 years old. News reached Pte Carroll that there were many Geelong boys, including Pte Norman Hodges (Old Collegian), Captain Billy Orchard, and Pte N Michael, in camp not far from them. Dearly as Pte Carroll would like to see his old Geelong friends, the pleasure was denied him, as he had received orders to move on.'

At war’s end Eric Carroll enrolled in a wool technology course at Bradford Technical College in England, as part of the Repatriation and Demobilisation Scheme, before returning home in 1920. He took up a soldier settlement block at Mount Bute, near Lismore. In 1923, Carroll and other disgusted settlers returned their medals as a protest against unfulfilled government promises to veterans of the Great War.

He was born at Wangaratta on 25 February 1898, the son of John Bernard Carroll and Mary Ellen nee O’Donnell. He died on 27 December 1979.

Captain Billy Orchard mentioned above was William Henry Orchard (1888-1965), born at Geelong on 9 August 1888, the son of Edwin Orchard and Ruth nee Mallett, Old Geelong Grammarian, he left with General McNicol’s Brigade, was wounded at Armentieres, and awarded the Military Cross east of Ypres on 4th October 1917, while serving with 38 Battalion. Brigadier-General Sir Walter Ramsay McNicoll, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO, VD, was the Headmaster of Geelong High School before enlisting for the Great War.

Sources: Based on an edited extract from Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck; pp. 150-51 (citing The Biographical Dictionary of the Western District of Victoria edited by Gordon Forth, individual article written by Marcia Elaine Tanswell); Geelong Advertiser; Pegasus; National Archives.
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