Timothy's Descendants who Served in World War 1

Timothy Sullivan's descendants served in both world wars, and some died . This article remembers those descendants and related family members and their service in the First World War.

Four of Timothy Sullivan's eighteen grandchildren served, and the husband of a fifth, served in World War 1. These were:

Charles Frederick Sullivan
Albert Wearne Sullivan
Cecil Arthur Edgar Sullivan
John Rundle Sullivan
John Edward Painter, husband of Gertrude Ida (nee Sullivan)


Charles was born in Ballarat in 1881, second son to John and Mary Sullivan.

SullivanCFCharles Frederick Sullivan, school teacher,enlisted on 19/2/1916, with next of kin his wife Ellen residing at 38 Wellington Rd Flemington Service No. 15195. He was 34 years and 8 months old, 5’9 ¾”, blue eyes with dark grey hair, religion Methodist.

His scientific training soon made it clear to the War Department that there was a useful niche for him to fill, and Sargeant Sullivan was sent to serve his country in the bacteriological branch of hospital work. He embarked on the “Karoola” in Melbourne on 18/08/1916 and was posted to the Australian Medical Corps. He worked for a long period in Cairo and afterwards in Port SAid. The terrible conditions under which he worked in those places eventually undermined his constituion and he collapsed.

He died of malaria and pneumonia in Gaza on 15/11/1918, four days after Armistice Day, leaving behind his widow Ellen and the two young children. The official notice of death published in the Numurkah Leader of 27th November  reads: 

"Staff-Sergeant C. Fred. Sullivan (A.A.M.C.), Anzac Field Laboratory, died of malaria and pneumonia at the 36th Stationary Hospital, Gaza, Palestine, on the 15th November, 1918, after 2 years and 7months on active service. Beloved husband of Nellie, and father of Ronald and Ruby,and beloved third son of Mary and the late John."

 Photo courtesy Victorian Education Department Records of War Service.

As the Numurkah Leader goes on : "His wife was a daughter of Mr Salter, late of Marungi, and to her and her children we extend our deepest sympathy for the loss of one so beautiful, so clean, so noble. Our Australia cannot afford such as he and the loss is great, not only to his loved ones, but to his native land. Mrs.Sullivan(Fred'smother) has for years been an invalid, but she was proud to send two of her lads to serve the flag she loves, and now in her deep bereavement I am sure the deepest sympathy of the whole community has gone forth spontaneously, and no doubt shehas been sustained by the arms of that deep, loving sympathy.The writer had known Fred, for a period of sixteen years, and he has no hesitation in saying that with the years the admiration grew and not without justification. He was a man and a soldier, and under every trial rang true as steel. The loss that Mrs. Sullivan and her littlechildren have received is beyond any reparation that peace terms can make, but her loved one gave his life that posterity can enjoy that glorious liberty that can be bought only at such a price." 

His widow Ellen never remarried.


Albert Wearne Sullivan, twin brother to Edwin John Sullivan, was born in Dunbulbalane in 1885 to parents John Sullivan and wife Mary. He was a younger brother of Charles Frederick Sullivan


Albert Wearne Sullivan enlisted on 15/7/1915, with mother Mrs Sullivan c/-Invergordon Post Office as next of kin. He was aged 30 years and 2 months, 5’8 1/2:”gray eyes, dark brown hair and religion Methodist. (1) War Records

At a volunteers farewell function The Numurkah Leader reported " Cr Gordon and Mr J. Tyres addressed the volunteers on behalf ofthe Drumanure people. Presentations were made to Messrs Percy Eddy and Bert Sullivan who had always identified themselves with sporting clubs inDrumanure. Mr Hodge, expressing the feeling that the volunteers might prove themselves "pure-bred pups of the illustrious British buldogs," spoke on behalf of the Rechabite lodge."


2768 Private Sullivan 6th Reinforcements 24th Battalion embarked Melbourne on the “Ulysses” for overseas on 27/10/1915. He was taken on strength in France on 25/6/1916, and was subsequently evacuated France wounded on 22/8/1916. He returned to his unit in France on 17/11/1916 and was wounded again, a serious gunshot wound to right elbow on 12/5/1917. He was evacuated back to England to convalesce. He was probably declared unfit for active service and was returned to Australia. He returned on the Berrima and was discharged on 22/02/1918. His medical records show no other treatment than for ringworm besides his wounds.

Photo courtesy of National Library of Australia

The Numurkah Leader reported on the return of the wounded soldier in January 1918:


The regular arrival of the ships conveying the wounded brings hometo people's minds grim pictures of the stupendous cost of liberty. Complementary with these comes the predictable, comforting fact that there are many men determined to pay the price, whatever it may be.


"Wounded or hale, won home from war, Or yonder by the lone Pine laid,
Give him his due for evermore, The bravest thing God ever made."


This very just compliment cannot be too oft repeated. It expresses a feeling that has thrilled fair-minded 

men and women throughout the world for the past three years ; but, alas,there are too many instances which exemplify the diabolical fact that the lesson it teaches has not yet been generally assimilated. Returned men are being welcomed home every week, but when the over-wrought guest realises that the mates he left in the war zone are going to be compelled to whistle for aid, he needs must feel that the welcome home is stripped of its vitellus. 


Private A. W. Sullivan, of Invergordon, participated in two of the hottest engagements yet undertaken by the Australian Army-the assault on the Pozieres Ridge and the captureof the stronghold at Bullecourt. In the latter engagement he was severely wounded, and returned to Australia early in January. He was welcomed home and presented with a gold medal by the residents of Invergordon on Wednesday evening. In responding to the speech of welcome,Private Sullivan briefly referred to afew of his experiences, and strove to give the people some idea of conditions prevailing in the war region. He emphasised the importance of the reinforcements question, and appealed to those who were sheltering them-selves behind petty excuses, to come out into the world of men and do their duty. Whilst many said they couldn't join the army because they had to grow wheat for the soldiers, he had been unable, up to the present, to find the wheat-grower who would part with his wheat before being guaranteed a very tidy price per bushel. He was sorry to be home before victory had been won, and was quite determined to return again to the front as soon as the Defence Department could fit him up."

On his return from the war and discharge Albert became a strong advocate for returned soldiers.He was prepared to speak out, and the Numurkah Leader of 17 March 1920 records Bert Sullivan as a returned soldier-landholder representative on a committee seeking equitable irrigation rights. Albert may have been more than just a farmer.

Albert never married. Family folklore suggests he had his heart set on a local girl, but she married some-one else.


Cecil Athur Edgar Sullivan was Samuel Grose Sullivan’s oldest son.

Prior to the War Cecil had been a successful Public Accountant  in Victoria, residing in Melbourne. During the war period at the age of about 35 he was selected for a responsible position dealing with finance in Melbourne, and at the invitation of the Minister of Defence joined his department. He was appointed as Captain (Provisional) on 01/07/1917 to serve until 08/01/1920





As Captain CAE Sullivan, Australian Army Pay Corps, 3rd Military Division, he controlled a staff of about 200 men.

On his retirement he received the personal commendation of the Minister. As a reference letter from Wilson, Danby & Ferres, Public Accountants, states “His war services in this connection practically cost him his business. He is a very hard working man and of excellent character.”


Photo courtesy of John Alan Sullivan











G4     TS/SGS/ JOHN RUNDLE SULLIVAN (1892 - 1962)

John (Jack) Rundle Sullivan was the youngest of Timothy Sullivan's four grandsons through their father Samuel Grose Sullivan and wife Hannah.

SgtJRSullivanHe enlisted on 26/10/1916, Service Number 3223, into the 8th reinforcement contingent of 50 Battallion AIF, predominantly composed of men from South Australia. He was 23 years and 10 months old, and at enlistment he was 6 foot 1 ½’’ in height, considerably taller than most of the other Sullivan brothers. He weighed 152 lbs and could expand his chest from 34 ½ ‘’ to 38’. He had fair hair, a fair complexion, blue eyes and was a Methodist farmer. His next of kin was his mother Hannah Maria Sullivan of Edillilie, Flinders, near Pt Lincoln. 

Jack was taken on strength with the 50th Battalion in February 1917 and commenced active service in France in July 1917.

(2)The 50th Battalion was raised in Egypt on 26 February 1916 as part of the "doubling" of the AIF. Approximately half of its recruits were veterans from the 10th Battalion, and the other half, fresh reinforcements from Australia. Reflecting the composition of the 10th, the 50th was predominantly composed of men from South Australia. The battalion became part of the 13th Brigade of the 4th Australian Division and was dubbed "Hurcombe's Hungry Half Hundred", after its first CO, Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Hurcombe.

Photo courtesy of  “Hurcombe’s Hungry Half Hundred” (1)

 After arriving in France on 11 June 1916, the 50th fought in its first major battle at Mouquet Farm between 13 and 15 August and suffered heavily. It took part in another assault launched there on 3 September. The battalion saw out the rest of the year alternating between front-line duty, and training and labouring behind the line. This routine continued through the bleak winter of 1916-'17.

Early in 1917, the battalion participated in the advance that followed the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, and attacked at Noreuil on 2 April. For his actions at Noreuil Private Joergen Jensen was awarded the Victoria Cross. Later that year, the focus of AIF operations moved to the Ypres sector in Belgium. There the battalion was involved in the battle of Messines between 7 and 12 June and the battle of Polygon Wood on 26 September. Another winter of trench routine followed.

Utilising troops freed by the collapse of Russia in October 1917, the German Army launched a major offensive on the Western Front at the end of March 1918. The 4th Division was deployed to defend positions south of the River Ancre in France. At Dernancourt, on 5 April, the 50th Battalion assisted in the repulse of the largest German attack mounted against Australian troops during the war. The German threat persisted through April, and on ANZAC Day 1918 the 50th participated in the now- legendary attack to dislodge the enemy from Villers-Bretonneux.

The 50th Battalion continued to play an active role during the Allies' own offensive, launched on 8 August 1918. Its last major operation of the war was the attack on the Hindenburg "outpost line" on 18 September, during which the 50th composed part of the 4th Division's reserve. The 50th Battalion ceased to exist as a separate entity when it amalgamated with the 51st Battalion on 6 March 1919.

Jack on leave.
Photo courtesy of R Sullivan

On 22/12/1918, after the Armistice, Jack was transferred to the Australian Army Pay Corps where he was promoted to the rank of Pay Sergeant, but remained assigned to his battalion. Having shown no previous inclination for administrative duties, it is possible has oldest brother Cecil, at the time a Captain in the Pay Corps in Melbourne, may have played a role in the promotion. In July 1919 the AIF advised by letter that he had embarked on the “City of Exeter” 12/07/1919 bound for Australia with an expected disembarkation of 21/08/1919 in Melbourne. He was discharged on 29/09/1919,



Gertrude Ida Sullivan aged 31 married John Edward Painter aged 28 in St Andrews Church Walkerville on 06/10/1906. The Painters only son, Rowland George, was born on 23/12/1907.

The Painters lived initially at 32 George St Norwood, close to the extended Painter family, and John worked as a clerk with the taxation office. John Painter enlisted in WW1 at the fairly late age of 37. Typical of so many young women of the time, Gertrude had resisted John’s enlistment. And, like so many men, John had been subjected to the taunts of others before he determined to go to war. He was verbally abused and given white feathers by people who did not know him. A white feather, concealed in a match box and given to him in the city, sealed his decision to enlist in August 1915.

John Edward Painter, Service Number 4245 was almost 38, a clerk, and was Church of England

He was sent as a memmber of the 13th reinforcements 10th Battalion, was transferred to the 50th Battalion in February 1916, and commenced active service. He participated in the battle at Mouquet farm and was listed as wounded on the 16th August. After his Adelaide relatives had heard no further news for some weeks, he was subsequently posted as Missing in Action. After further delays, pleas to the military from his mother and wife, and reports from his comrades at the front, he was finally declared as Killed in Action and had been buried at Mouquet Farm.

His remains were subsequently exhumed, and under the auspices of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission he was re-interred with his comrades at the Serre Road Cemetery No.2, near Beaumont Hamel France, Plot 26, Row "A", Grave 11.

His widow Gertrude Ida Painter never remarried and brought up their son Rowland on her own. 



General:  The National Archives - War Service Records

"Hurcombes Hungry Half Hundred - A Memorial History of the 50th Battalion AIF 1916 - 1919 " / Freeman R.R. (1991). Copy held by SA
        Genealogy & Heraldry Society.
2  Australia War memorial - 50th Australian Infantry Battalion  https://www.awm.gov.au/unit/U51490/