Saturday, 16 January 2016

Ballarat men at Gallipoli 3

Eric William Tulloch in the uniform of
the 86th Infantry (West Australian Rifles)

Eric William Tulloch (1883-1926) was born in Ballarat into the Tulloch brewing family, his grandfather having established Ballarat Brewing Company.  Eric was educated at Ballarat College and Melbourne Grammar School, were he represented the school in football and rowed in the first eight and four. In 1901-02 he won the Victorian Champion VIII's title for the Albert Park Rowing Club and in 1902-04 represented the State in the victorious interstate eight-oared crew.

He was apprenticed at Foster Brewing, and later worked at R. Marks and Co. in Maldon, and then worked as head brewer in Perth at the Swallow Brewery.

He served in several Citizens Militias and was captain in the 86th Infantry (West Australian Rifles) by 1913.  He joined the Australian Imperial Force in January 1915.  He was specially selected to land with his battalion at Gallipoli.

That fateful day, after bringing his company over the Sphinx and past the Nek, Tulloch, with Lieutenant Mordaunt Reid, pressed on with 60 men over Baby 700, toward the Third Ridge, with the intention of reaching Battleship Hill as per their orders.  It was about mid-morning when the party reached the south-east shoulder of Battleship Hill, from where they were actually able to sight the Narrows. But they were repelled by enemy fire.  Tulloch’s advance was as far towards the heights of Chunuk Bair as any Anzac came on 25 April 1915. In 1919, Charles Bean found an Australian water bottle with a bullet hole on Battleship Hill, evidence that this was where Tulloch and his men had reached.

He was injured as they retreated, and was sent to recover in Australia. In October 1917 he was posted to France where he was gassed in the second battle of Passchendaele, and fought on the Somme. On 23 August 1918 near Chuignolles he commanded two companies and captured Froissy Wood; on 18 September at Hargicourt, he rushed a German trench, armed only with a revolver, and overpowered and captured the crews of two enemy machine-guns, taking 6 prisoners. He was awarded the Military Cross and Bar for these actions, and given command of the 12th Battalion.

In February 1919, still in England, he was appointed officer-in-charge of the rowing section, sports branch, and coached the A.I.F. crew which won the King's Cup at Royal Henley.

On his return to Australia Tulloch took up a senior position at the Victoria Brewery where he worked until his strange death: early on the morning of 8 May 1926 he disturbed an intruder in his room at the boarding house where he was staying after a rowing regatta. During a struggle Tulloch was fatally shot. No motive for the killing could be established and the identity of the murderer was never  discovered. Tulloch's funeral was conducted with full military honours. After a service at Melbourne Grammar chapel, the procession, more than a mile long, proceeded to Brighton cemetery by way of St Kilda Road which was lined by thousands of people.

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