“Dead” Soldier Returns

Anzac Day. The day to remember those who fought for our country. Some survived. Many didn’t. And in reality those that returned were changed forever.

It was while I was going through the military records of Arthur Vincent Elphick (Mr Lonetester’s great grandpa), that I kept seeing the name of Donovan Russell Elphick written in his records. Arthur was one of twelve children in the family, and Donovan was his youngest brother.

On checking Donovan’s military records on the National Archives of Australia website, and reading through the dossier, one page in the record jumped out at me. But firstly, some background information …

Born in Prospect, South Australia, but living in Western Australia, 24 year old Donovan signed up to serve his country in January 1915. After training in Western Australia, he was assigned to the 5th Reinforcements 11th AIF, and sailed to Egypt in June 1915, and was obviously in the thick of it from arrival, as within a week of arriving he was in hospital suffering from “deafness”.

From here, I’ll let you read the article as that explains it all …

Elphick Donovan Russell - Mistake in Casualty List 1915-10-20

The above article came from a Victorian newspaper, and is dated 20 October 1915. This story was repeated in numerous Victorian, South Australian and Western Australian newspapers over the weeks following. As you can imagine it was quite a story. And to say that it shocked his brother (Harold), when he walked in would be an understatement.

Donovan was one of six boys in the family, with three going off to war. Sadly only two returned.

And while Donovan Elphick did survive World War 1, he died in Perth on 25 December 1936, aged just 45.

5 Responses to ““Dead” Soldier Returns”

  1. Jill Ball says:

    What a beaut story to relate on ANZAC Day. I can’t imagine the shock the family received when Donovan walked through the door.

    • Alona says:

      I couldn’t agree more … the emotions of having lost him, followed by the shock that he’s alive and back. The family would have gone through it all.

  2. Jill Ball says:

    Yay, your change in settings for commenters is working. Thanks Alona

  3. crissouli says:

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


    Thank you, Chris

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