Elizabeth Jane Pollard was born in 1857 in Kapunda, South Australia. Her father was a miner who had been born in Cornwall, England, arriving in Australia in 1851 aboard the ship Sultana. He died when Elizabeth was only 3 years old. Her mother, Mary Ann Pollard (nee Hayes) came to Australia aboard the ship 'Elgin' as an Irish potato famine orphan, possibly with two sisters. When her father died of peritonitis, Elizabeth's mother was reliant on relief from the Destitute Board until she married again in 1861 to John Wright.

Elizabeth married Michael Patrick Delaney in Adelaide in 1885. They stayed in South Australia for approximately two years before moving to Victoria. They were in the Brunswick, Hotham East and Williamstown areas before deciding to settle at Werribee. Elizabeth and Michael had 9 children altogether.

Letter in Elizabeth's own handwriting, to Mayor Lean

World War I[]

Elizabeth's three eldest sons enlisted in the army when World War I broke out.

Son Henry Joseph Delaney enlisted in the army on 10.2.1916. He was given service number 5671 and was allocated to the 7th Battalion AIF (18th Reinforcement). His employment at the time was as a grocer, and he was given the task of signalman in the army. He embarked from Australia on 5.7.1916 on the HMAT “Ayrshire”. He was absent without leave from 8am 19.12.1916 until 6am on 29.12.1916, for which he was given 11 days detention. He was in custody a total of 8 days and forfeited 24 days pay. He went to France and died on the Somme on 21.4.1917. He is remembered on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France and in the Werribee Cemetery in Victoria. Upon his death, a small article about his life was printed in a local paper. It read as follows:-

“The sad intelligence has just been received that Signaller Harry Delaney has been killed in action in France. He was a fine type of a young Australian soldier – clever, alert, resourceful, and energetic – and in his examination for signaler received the highly satisfactory percent of 99. Born in South Australia, he came to Werribee with his parents while still a baby, where he grew to manhood, being loved and respected by all who knew him. He was for some years in the employ of the Werribee Farmers Co-operative Store, and later of Comben and Co.’s, whose employ he left to enlist. His duties brought him in touch with the majority of the residents of the town, and we can safely say that he was one of the most popular young men in the district. Two of his brothers have previously enlisted. He was never satisfied till he himself was in khaki, and he sailed on the 3rd of July, 1916, the day on which his brother fell a victim to the enemy’s guns. After a few months in England he sailed for France but recently, and it is indeed sad to think that he has been cut off so early in his endeavour to serve his King and country. Much sympathy is felt throughout the district for the deceased soldier’s parents, Mr and Mrs M. Delaney, and his brothers and sisters, in their sad bereavement.”

Letter from daughter Anastasia to General Birdwood, on behalf of her mother.

The brother mentioned in the article that had previously died in action was Edward James Delaney. He had enlisted in late 1915 and was given service number 1777 and the rank of Private. He was listed as a 23 year old railway employee. He was initially allocated to the 10th Battalion, 21st reinforcement, but was then switched to the 51st battalion, 2nd reinforcement. He embarked on the ship “Wiltshire” on 15.3.1916. He was reported absent without leave for 33½ hours on 25.5.1916, and was awarded 10 days detention and a forfeiture of 2 days pay. He joined his battalion in France on 31.5.1916 and was killed on 3.7.1916 at Armentieres. He is buried at Rue-Du-Bois Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix, and is also remembered in the Werribee Cemetery under the name of Edmond Delaney.

Son Michael Patrick Delaney also served in WWI as a driver. He enlisted on 4.11.1915 and was given service No. 3062 with the rank of gunner. He proceeded overseas on 2.5.1916 on the ship “Huntsend” and disembarked in Marseilles, France. He was initially allocated to the C.O. 5th D.A.C. but, being a driver, changed battalions and groups on many occasions depending on need. He was admitted to hospital with influenza on 25.1.1917 and was sent back to England on the hospital ship “Warilda” to recover.


The deaths of the two elder brothers prompted sister Anastasia to write to General Birdwood on behalf of her parents. The letter states as follows:-

“Pardon the liberty of writing to such a wonderful and busy man as yourself but I am writing to ask you a favour in fact a very great favour. I had three brothers fighting in this great war. Two have been killed within three days of their entering the firing line. They were the eldest of the family and my youngest brother is now there, and has been over two years. As he is only a boy, not nineteen when he left, and mother is breaking her heart not unlike many other mothers I spose over the loss of their sons who have fought bravely and have been glad to die for their country. Would it be asking too great a favour of you to let my little brother come home to Australia for a trip even though it be only for a short period just to let mother see him. Her health is failing fast and one doctor thinks she won’t live much longer and she is pining for a sight of her only son left over there.”

The letter continues with Anastasia asking that if it is impossible to send Michael home, is it possible to put in him a safe position until the end of the war. Her address on the letter is given as Mrs C. Moinement, Buxton Street, Elsternwick, Victoria. Both typed and original versions of this letter are viewable in Michael Delaney’s service record. Also in his service records are the responses to this letter, all dated from February 1918. General Birdwood asks about his whereabouts and is informed that he was a telephonist on D.A.C. Hqrs who was evacuated to hospital with suspected tuberculosis, and was now in a convalescent camp. Approval was given for his return to Australia for discharge via the Admin Headquarters in London, on the basis that his two eldest brothers had been killed in action, and his ill health. He was directed to report to No2 Depot, Weymouth on 28.2.1918.

Michael was obviously excited about his discharge because he went absent without leave for a day, from 10.30am on 28.2.1918 to 11.15am on 1.3.1918. He was required to forfeit 4 days pay as a result. He disembarked to Australia on 10.4.1918. Michael lived to age of 78 and his mother to the age of 64, some 13 years after his return to Australia. Elizabeth is buried ar Werribee in 1931, where her husband husband had been buried in 1924.


Name Birth Death

Annie Gertrude 11/1/1886
Kapunda, South Australia
Heidelberg, Victoria

Henry Joseph 18/12/1887
Kapunda, South Australia
The Somme, France

Anastasia May 1890
Brunswick, Victoria

Edward James 1892
Hotham East, Victoria
Armentieres, France

Michael Patrick 1894
Williamstown, Victoria
Werribee, Victoria

John 1896
Werribee, Victoria

William 1898
Werribee, Victoria

Martin David Leo 1901
Werribee, Victoria
Werribee, Victoria

Mary Ellen 1903
[Kensington Hill], Victoria


  • Service records of Henry, Edward and Michael Delaney
  • Births, deaths and marriage records