Born: 11 October 1886
Cricketer William Keith Eltham played for Tasmania against Victoria, New South Wales and England and achieved great success as a batsman.
Eltham was a regular member of the Tasmanian cricket team from 1909-10 and 1913-1914.
Eltham originally played cricket with the old Wellington Club. When district cricket was introduced in 1905, he joined the West Hobart Club where he was one of its principal mainstays until he enlisted on 26 August 1914. Eltham embarked on 20 October 1914.
While serving in the Dardenelles, in July 1917, Lieutenant Eltham was wounded by schrapnel in the mouth. After being discharged from hospital he rejoined his unit at Gallipoli on 9 October 1915.
Lieutenant Eltham was wounded in action on 5 November 1916 and killed in action on 31 December 1916 at about midday in France. He was buried the same night in a small cemetery about 1371 metres from the small village of Flers. The village was destroyed during the war. At the time of Lieutenant Eltham’s burial approximate coordinates for his grave were recorded.
Before enlisting, Lieutenant Eltham was employed as a clerk with the City Engineer at the Hobart City Council. The Hobart Town Hall flag was flown at half-mast to honour the memory of a man The Critic, Hobart, 12 January 1917, described as “a trusted official, a true comrade, and a heroic soldier.”
In an article entitled “Lieut Keith Eltham killed”, The Referee Sydney 17 January 1917 page 13 wrote:
“In the deaths of Lionel Butler and Keith Eltham Tasmania has lost two of its ablest cricketers.”
Lieutenant Eltham is commemorated in the Guards Cemetery, Lesboeufs, Peronne, Picardie, France.
The Hobart City Council honoured Lieutenant Eltham on 11 November 2015 by naming a new sporting pavilion at the Soldiers Memorial Oval, on the Queens Domain, Hobart, after their former employee and a well-known sporting identity. The Friends of Soldiers Memorial Avenue suggested the pavilion be named after William Keith Eltham. Relatives of Lieutenant Eltham attended the official opening.
Sport and Recreation Tasmania and the Tasmanian Community Fund made contributions to support the construction of the new Pavilion.
The Friends of the Soldiers Walk newsletter contains information about Keith Eltham along with copies of his drawings and a letter.
The Critic, Hobart 12 January 1917
The Referee, Sydney 17 January 1917 page 13 “Lieut Keith Eltham killed”
National Archives of Australia
Australian War Memorial
Australian Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau files, 1914-18 War 1DLRL/0428 Lieutenant William Keith Eltham 1st Field Artillery
“New sporting pavilion named after fallen WW1 soldier”, City of Hobart media release 11 November 2015