The Fallen Heroes of the St Kilda Football Club

Allan Grant has spent many years uncovering the stories of those St Kilda players who died while fighting in World War I and World War II. His findings have been published in various places over the past twenty years, as he has added further information to these profiles.


Allan has done a phenomenal amount of research and acknowledges the many sources he has consulted to gather this information.


This is the latest (updated) version of the list which gives biographical information, service record and then the circumstances of the player’s death.


Lest we forget.



The Fallen Heroes. St Kilda Football Club.



Every year on Anzac Day we remember those who have given their lives for their country. The excellent book Fallen: the Ultimate Heroes gives a comprehensive insight into eleven of the Saints fallen. The authors Jim Main and David Allen, have since acknowledged Paul Bell in an article in an AFL Football Record in 2003. There are several others not mentioned in Fallen. They are remembered here. There is always a possibility that more will be discovered. Barbara Cullen in her book Harder than Football also gives an insight into all VFL fallen.


All were young men who heard the call to arms, enlisted and then proceeded overseas to fight for their country. They did not return to their families and they did not return to the Saints, the club for which they played.




The Honour Roll



World War I






Claude Terrell Crowl. Private 8th Battalion Australian Army – 3 Games for the Saints in 1911.


Claude was killed in action on the 25 April 1915 the day of the landing. His unit the 8th Battalion was one of the first on the beach at Gallipoli. He was a farmer born in Stratford. His early education was at Caulfield Grammar. Claude made his VFL debut against Carlton in Round 15 and played 3 games for the season. Claude’s cousin Captain Joseph Terrell Crowl, 8th Australian Lighthorse was also killed at Gallipoli on Walters Ridge on 27 June 1915 Aged 31. He also played VFL football for Geelong in 1906.


Louis Gordon Holmes. Captain 3rd Infantry Brigade HQ, Australian Infantry, A.I.F. 1 game for the Saints 1910.


On 23 June 1915 Louis died at Gallipoli of wounds he received in battle. Louis was 22 years of age. Louis was born in Launceston Tasmania and first educated at Scotch College Launceston and then at Wesley College Melbourne, where he rowed for the school at the Head of the River in 1911. He was a fine athlete and sportsman. He played for the Saints in 1910 while still at school at just 17 years of age. He went on to study at Adelaide University where he received a double blue for Rowing and Football. He is remembered with honour at the Lone Pine Memorial at Gallipoli.


Arthur Edward Caldwell. Private 4th Battalion Australian Infantry – 8 games for the Saints in 1909.


Arthur was 25 when he died on active service on 26 July 1915. Born in Young in NSW his family moved to Melbourne soon after. Arthur went to school at North Williamstown Public School. His brother Jim Caldwell played 155 games with South Melbourne.  Arthur’s other brothers Thomas and Joseph also served overseas, Thomas winning a Military Medal for his bravery in action. On 26 July 1915 Arthur died as a result of wounds he had sustained at Gallipoli. He had been transferred in a hospital ship to Malta. He is buried at Addolarata Cemetery in Malta.



Fromelles. Western Front, France


Hugh McDonald Plowman. Captain 60th Battalion Australian Army- 26 Games for the Saints 1910 – 1912.


Hugh was killed in action on 19 July 1916 at Fromelles France aged 27, in a battle that was destined to take its place in Australian History. Australian losses that day know no equal. After playing for St Kilda he joined the AIF with the rank of Corporal in 1915. After a short period of officer training he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in July 1915. He was later promoted to Captain while in France. In July 1916 Hugh was a Captain in the 60th Battalion part of an Australian force made up of the 4th and 5th Divisions AIF. One of the commanders was the famous Brigadier General H.E. Pompey Elliott. In overall command were Generals White and Birdwood. Lieutenant-General Richard Haking, Commander of the 11th British Corps had put a plan in place to attack the German trenches at Fromelles. The Australian task was to attack an area known as the Sugarloaf salient south of Armentiers. Pompey Elliot believed this attack was at a grave risk of disaster and although Generals White and Birdwood agreed they were unable to countermand the British General. After two days of delay the Australians attacked the salient manned by the 6th Bavarian reserve. Despite shelling the German trenches for several hours the Australians met a withering tempest of machine gun and rifle fire that decimated their numbers. Lines of Australians went over the top never to return. In the 5th Division, 35 officers were hit, half mortally. Hugh Plowman died in no man’s land. He has no known grave like many of his comrades. He is remembered at VC Corner, Australian Cemetery Memorial just outside the village of Fromelles. Following the battle the scenes in the Australian trenches were unequalled in the history of the AIF. In one night on 19 July 1916 Australia lost 5533 men killed, wounded or taken prisoner.





John Preston Walker – (Jack Walker) Sergeant, 8th Battalion, Infantry A.I.F. 4 Games for the Saints, 1910-1911.


John, known as Jack was born in Brighton. He enlisted with the AIF on 22 August 1914. In records held by the War Memorial his proud father William described John as a Law Student, and went on to list his sporting accomplishments in some detail. John attended Melbourne Grammar school and was Captain of the school cricket team in 1908. He played football for the Saints and Cricket for East Melbourne Cricket Club where he won the batting average in season 1912/13. He represented Victoria in cricket in a Colts side. John enlisted as a private and rose to be a sergeant. His father wrote that he was the subject of a recommendation for a commission as an officer when he was killed in action. John Walker was killed in action at Pozieres on 27 July 1916. He is remembered at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France.



James (Jim) Farnan, Private 46th Battalion Infantry AIF, 1 game for the Saints 1899.


Recruited from Montague, he played one senior game for St Kilda, on the half-back flank, against Essendon, at the East Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday, 8 July 1899 (round nine). Jim joined the AIF on 7 August 1915. He was transferred to the 46th Btn en route to France where he was killed in action near Poizieres on 9 August 1916. He is buried in the English military cemetery at Poizieres.



The Somme


Patrick McGuinness, Private 51st Battalion AIF, 1 game for the Saints 1901.


Patrick enlisted in the AIF on 4 January 1917 in Perth where he was employed as a school teacher. He sailed for France at the end of 1917 where he was on active service until 27 April 1918 when he was badly wounded in the left hip (a gunshot wound in the left thigh and a fractured pelvis), in action with the 51st Battalion, on 27 April 1918. He died of his wounds, with acute septicaemia, in military hospital, in France on 6 May 1918. He is interred in the Mont Huon Cemetery at Le Treport.



Ypres/ Menin Road, Belgium.

Herbert Dean O’Connell. Corporal 60th Battalion AIF, 2 games for the Saints in 1908.


Herbert was born in Windsor Melbourne and enlisted on 14 Feb 1916. He was just over 29 years old at the time he joined up. Shortly after his enlistment he married Ruby E O’Connell and lived in Elwood until he sailed for England on 1 August 1916. On arrival in France in July 1917 he transferred from the 59th Battalion to the 60th. On 17 October 1917 he was wounded in action and died the same day from his wounds. After some confusion about where he was buried he was found and reinterred at Birr Cross Roads Cemetery.


William Charles “Bill” Madden Lance Corporal . 26 Games for the Saints in 1908 and 1909.


He died in France on 3 May 1917.


He was declared “missing in action” in May 1917; and his name appeared in the list of missing issued in June 1917.


He was finally (officially) declared “Killed in Action” on 26 November 1917 after a Court of Inquiry had conducted an investigation into his case, although the relevant casualty list was not published until February 1918.


At 26 years of age, he was cleared to St Kilda, from West Melbourne on 29 April 1908. and played his first senior match, in the first round, against Carlton, at Princes Park on 2 May 1908. Of the three St Kilda debutants, Madden, Bismarck  Kulpa, and Alby Landt, he was considered to be “the most promising” of all the new St Kilda players. Although not a tall man, he played as a backman, a forward, and a ruckman, with an equally high level of skill and performance during his senior VFL career.


In his first season at St Kilda (1908) he played in every senior match, including the Semi-Final against Carlton, at the M.C.G. on 19 September 1908. Carlton thrashed St Kilda, by 58 points (12.12 (84) to 3.8 (26), Madden was selected as the forward pocket resting ruckman for St Kilda. The match was played in extremely wet and muddy conditions, and the umpiring was of such a poor standard that St Kilda lodged a complaint.


In his second season (1909) he only played seven matches, the last of which, against Melbourne at the Junction Oval on 24 July 1908 (Round 13) was only possible because he was needed to replace an unavailable player.


Prisoner of War, Died of wounds in a Bavarian Field Hospital, Lille France.


Harold C Parker 2nd Lt 37th Battalion AIF, 3 games for the Saints in 1911.


Harold enlisted on 11 October 1915 and almost immediately was sent off to Officers’ school. He was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant and assigned to the 37th Battalion on 16 April 1916. He left Australia on 3 June 1916 and saw action in France until he was wounded in action on 28 January 1917. He was badly wounded in action during a trench raid in France on the night of 29 January 1917, when he was struck in the groin by German machine gunfire.


He was lying in a shell hole, and was too badly wounded to be carried back to the Australian lines. The entire stretcher party that had gone to retrieve him were shot down before they could reach the shell-hole; and, by the time a patrolling party could reach the site, Parker was no longer there.


He was taken prisoner by the Germans, and was admitted to the Bavarian Field Hospital, Lambersart, Lille, France. He died of his wounds in the German hospital the next day.



In the Air


Ralph Robertson – Second Lieutenant Royal Flying Corps, and 8th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment. 14 games for the Saints 1899- 1900.


Ralph Robertson was born in England circa 1880. He came to Australia when he was two and settled in Melbourne. His early football was with South Beach a local St Kilda side. The Sydney newspaper Referee in an edition in 1917 said that Robertson made his debut with St Kilda in 1899 playing 2 games for the season. In 1900 he played 12 games. He did not play in 1901 moving to Sydney where in 1902 he played Rugby Union for a year. He then played Australian Rules with East Sydney from 1903 – 08 and then North Shore from 1909-14. He was Captain of the New South Wales team at the Carnivals in 1908, 1911 and 1914. Soon after the 1914 Carnival Ralph Robertson enlisted in the Armed services. Robertson initially served with the Australian Flying Corps in New Guinea but after a debilitating illness returned to England to enlist in the 8th Battalion Hampshire Regiment from which he was attached to the Royal Flying Corps. Ralph Robertson was killed in a flying accident in Egypt on May 11 1917. Second Lieutenant Ralph Robertson is buried at the Hadra War Memorial cemetery in Alexandria, Egypt.


In 2003 he was honoured as one of the inaugural members of the official ‘Sydney AFL Hall of Fame’.



On Active Service for Canada


Otto Lowenstern

Otto played 12 games for the Saints in 1910 and 1911. He was recruited from Dandenong and played one game in his first year. In 1911 he played 11 games the majority on the backline.

He was born on December 7 1888, the son of Isaac Lowenstern of 104 Darling Rd, East Malvern.

Following his two years at the Saints he moved to Canada where on 26 November 1914 he joined the Canadian overseas expeditionary force service number 2908.

He was attached to Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), R.C.A.C.


At the outbreak of World War I, Lord Strathcona’s Horse was mobilised in Calgary Canada and then began its training in England. In 1915, Lord Strathcona’s Horse served as infantry in the trenches in France. On 16 February 1916, the Strathcona’s were reconstituted as a mounted force. In March 1917, the Regiment again saw action as cavalry during the defence of the Somme front. The Strathcona Horse took part in the last recorded Calvary charge of WWI on 30 March 1918, but by that time Sergeant Otto Lowenstern had been killed in action in France on December 1 1917. Otto is remembered at the Vimy Memorial which is Canada’s most impressive overseas tribute to those Canadians who fought and gave their lives in WWI. Inscribed on the ramparts of the Vimy Memorial are the names of over 11,000 Canadian soldiers who were posted as missing, presumed dead in France. Otto Lowenstern’s name is inscribed on the memorial.



World War II




Jack A Shelton/ John Thomas Shelton- Lieutenant 2/24 Infantry Battalion- 28 Games for the Saints 1926, 1928 and 1929. 7 Games for South Melbourne 1930.


John Thomas Shelton was his real name. He preferred to be called Jack so he was listed as Jack. A. Shelton when he played VFL because another Jack Shelton also played for the Saints at the time. His nephew the famous Ian (Bluey) Shelton played for Essendon. Jack enlisted on 23 July 1940 aged 35. He was just in time to be sent with the 9th Division to the Middle East. On 1 May 1941 Jack was killed in action at Tobruk aged 36. Jack was born in Avenel on 24 January 1905 to parents Richard and Jane Shelton. His home address was known as Mittagong, Avenel. The “A” in his name was said to come from his hometown Avenel to differentiate him from the other Jack Shelton. His wife Winifred and son William remained at Avenel. William went on to play 12 games for Hawthorn from 1957 to 1959. Jack has no known grave and is commemorated at the El Alamein Memorial near the village of Alamein a name famous in Australia’s history and a name synonymous with the legendary Rats of Tobruk.



Prisoner of War, Burma


William Downie – Private 105 General Transport Company, 15 Games for the Saints 1933. 54 Games for Footscray 1929-32.


Bill came to the Saints from Footscray in 1933. He had been originally recruited from Eaglehawk. He was a tall strong ruckman who after playing for the Saints went to Northcote winning a premiership in 1938. Bill enlisted on 24 September 1940, 3 months short of his 31st birthday. Bill was captured by the Japanese in Burma and interred in the infamous POW camps. His army records simply state he died of illness on 11 September 1943 while a Prisoner of war in Burma. Many of these records were understated to protect family and next of kin from the unpleasant reality but other references suggest that a Japanese guard who he had angered for some reason killed him. This is more than likely fact.



New Guinea


Ross William (Bill) Hudson- Lance Corporal 51 Australian Field Company, 5 games for the Saints 1942.


Bill came from West Adelaide in 1942. He was born in Adelaide to parents Albert and Ann in November 1920. He was 21 when he made his debut for the Saints in Round 11 against North Melbourne. In his 5 games he stood out as a handy player kicking 6 goals. He died of injuries received in a grenade accident in New Guinea on 11 April 1945 aged 24. His wife of a few short years Eileen remained in Keswick in Adelaide. Bill is buried in the Allied War Cemetery at Bomana in Papua New Guinea.



Tarakan Borneo


Harold W.J Comte- Private 2/24 Australian Infantry Battalion, 104 Games for the Saints 1930- 1937.


Army records list Harold’s name as William Henry James Comte. Harold was born in Moama on 10 April 1910. He was recruited from Echuca, playing his first game for the Saints against the Hawks in the opening round of the 1930 season. He was a very versatile player who could play equally in defence or on the ball. He represented Victoria in 1932 and won the Saints Best and Fairest the same year. On retirement he stayed in Melbourne and when he enlisted he was living with his wife Ruby and son John in Westgarth. Harold died from wounds he received at Tarakan in Borneo on 30 May 1945.




Balikpapan Borneo


Paul Bell – (Alfred William Paul Bell). Lance Corporal 2/5 Australian Commando Squadron, 15 Games for the Saints 1937-1938.


Paul Bell was a gifted all round sportsman who was born in Shepparton in April 1914. He combined his football career with his other sporting love athletics. He won the Shepparton Gift and the 75 yards event in 1938. After a successful career with Shepparton and a short stint with the Tigers reserves Paul made his debut for the Saints in Round 11, 1937, ironically against Richmond. The Saints won by 29 points. Paul played 8 games in 1937 a year in which the Saints won ten games and missed the finals by a game and a half. After 7 games in 1938 he returned to Cobram where he opened bicycle stores in Shepparton and Cobram. On his return to Cobram he married his sweetheart Beatrice who was popularly known as Rannie. They happily lived in Cobram where Rannie gave birth to two daughters Beverley and Judith. Paul enlisted in 1942 and was assigned to the 2/5th Commando Squadron. The 2/5 Company served at Wau, Lae and Salamua in 1942, where men like Paul and his mates were the only force in action on the fringes of the defence line in North New Guinea. They dominated the hills above the Japanese base and carried out a dramatic attack on Salamua, causing major casualties to the enemy. They ended their war in the invasion of Balikpapan in Borneo. Lance Corporal Paul Bell was killed in action on July 4, 1945 at Balikpapan. He was a forward scout for his section when it was ambushed. Paul Bell now lies at the Labuan War cemetery.



In the Air, RAAF.


Stuart Patrick King – Flying Officer 20 squadron Royal Australian Air Force. 43 Games for the Saints 1931-1933.


Stuart King was an elite sportsman. He was born on 22 April 1906. Stuart was 25 when he made his debut with the Saints in 1931. Already qualified as a lawyer he was recruited from University Blacks. In 1932 he was made Captain of the Saints. Stuart balanced his football with his other sport, cricket. He represented Victoria at both sports and was a member of the Victorian Cricket team, which scored a world record 1107 against NSW at the MCG in 1926/27. He made only 7 in that great total but was a regular middle order batsman in that great team. Unfortunately Stuart became involved in one of the many internal disputes at the St Kilda Football club and as a result left the club at the end of 1933. Too often the Saints have been torn apart by internal wrangling. On 30 March 1942 shortly before his 36th birthday Stuart King enlisted in the RAAF. He was killed on 28 Feb 1943. He had not turned 37. There ended the life of one of Victoria’s best all round sportsman of the era. He left a wife, Kathleen and their beloved children Gerald and Diana.


Beresford Stanley Reilly – Pilot Officer 454 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force. 2 Games for the Saints 1938. 8 games Nth Melbourne 1935 to 1936 and 3 Games for Melbourne in 1937.


Beres or Fat as he was sometimes called is interesting in that he was a fringe player for 3 clubs in the space of only 4 yrs. He played 2 games for the Saints in 1938 and then moved on. He was still only 23 when his VFL career finished. He returned to his successful business as a butcher in Footscray. On 1 March 1941 aged 26 he enlisted with the RAAF and attained the rank Pilot Officer. He travelled with his squadron to the Mediterranean and on 23 July 1943 aged 27 he was presumed shot down over or near Crete. Beresford was born in Melbourne to parents William and Winifred Reilly of Carlton. His wife of a short time Mary was living in Station St North Carlton at the time of his death.


Robert Barnes Flegg- Warrant Officer Royal Australian Air Force, 70 Squadron. 18 Games for the Saints 1941.


Bob Flegg came to the Saints from Sandringham aged 22yrs in 1941. He headed the Saints goal kicking with 47 goals in his only year and in one game, his second, he kicked 7 goals. He enlisted with the RAAF on 5 December 1941. Bob was seconded to the RAF, as many Australians were, and was killed in an air battle on 7th July 1944 aged 25. War memorial details suggest he was presumed lost in action in the European theatre. The excellent book Fallen: the Ultimate heroes asserts that Bill and his crew were on a mission over the German Air Base at Feuersbrunn when his Wellington Bomber was shot down. This book carries a photo of Bob’s headstone in the Flagenfurt War Cemetery in Austria. Bob was born in Hampton in 1918 to parents William and Grace Flegg. He married shortly before his enlistment and his wife Leslie was living in Bentleigh at the time of his death.


On Active Service Australia


Wallace Hickford Mills (William Mills) Warrant Officer Class 11, Australian Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers attached to the 2/3rd Field Regiment. 1 Game for the Saints 1937.


William as he was better known was born in Middle Park. His parents Frederick and Emma were living in Black Rock at the time of his death. His wife Edith was living in Osborne Ave, Glen Iris. William died on active duty in Queensland and is buried in the Atherton War Cemetery in far north Queensland.




Heroes with Haloes, St Kilda’s One Hundred Greatest, Russell Holmesby

Fallen the Ultimate Heroes- Footballers who never returned from war. Jim Main and David Allen. Crown Content

 Every Game ever Played – Compiled by Stephen Rodgers. Viking O’Neill

 The Encyclopedia of AFL Footballers – Russell Holmesby and Jim Main. Crown Content,

 Anzac to Amiens – C E W Bean.

First World War – Martin Gilbert. Harper Collins

Australian War Memorial Archives.

 Gallipoli – Les Carlyon. Pan McMillan

Australia Commonwealth War Graves Commission Website

AFL Record Round 5 April 25-27, 2003 Article, “Honoured at Last” by David Allen.

AFL Record Round 4 2006 21-25 April 2006

AFL Record Round 5 2007 25-29 April 2007

Paul Daffy: Commando Double Black: A Historical Narrative of the 2/5th Australian Commando Squadron- A. Pirie. From the website

National Archives of Australia- The Collection

The Western Front Diaries, Jonathan King, Simon and Schuster

Harder than Football. Barbara Cullen. Slattery Media Group.




Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.





  1. Wally from Williamstown says

    Arthur and Jim Caldwell both played in Williamstown’s first-ever premiership team in 1907

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Allan immense respect it requires a obscene amount of work to find out all this information just staggering congratulations

  3. Allan Grant says

    Thanks Malcolm. I have been researching Sports and Military history for many years. This version is the most recent of many so the research has been spread over many years.. There are so many resources available now compared to when I first started so I guess it’s all a lot easier now. Thanks for taking the time to read the article and for your positive comments. Cheers.

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