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Dr David Gifford CROLL CBE

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Colonel 14 Nov 1885 31y8m 29 Jun 1917 30 Oct 1919 2

Colonel Dr David Grifford Croll CBE (1885-1948)


Family Background

David Gifford Croll was the eldest son of Andrew Usher Croll and Mary Jane (née Gifford) Croll. He was born in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland on 14 November 1885. David had three brothers Andrew Raleigh, John Alexander, Darcy G. and a sister Helen. The family travelled to New Zealand and then to Australia when David was 13 years old in 1898. 

Early life and link to Saint Andrew's

David attended University in Sydney where he obtained his Bachelor of Medicine.  

He married Marian Winifred (Winnie) née Payne on 13 April 1912 at Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Brisbane where he and his wife are listed on the Honour Roll Boards. Rev Dr Merrington conducted the service.

Dr Croll signed the medical certificate for Rev Merrington when he enlisted. The announcement of the wedding indicated that Dr Croll’s parents lived in Cremorne Point Sydney, formerly Waiheke NZ. Winnie’s parents’ address is given as Brisbane Hospital. David and Winnie had no children.

Enlistment and service

Dr David Croll enlisted on 29 October 1914, and his attestation paper gave his height as 5 ft 8 [173cm] and his weight 10st 6 [ 66.2kg], and recorded that he had good eyesight. His religion was Presbyterian and his wife Marian was named as his next of kin, with her address being c/- A. Payne, Brisbane Hospital.

As Major in the 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance, AIF, "A" Squadron, David left Brisbane on HMAT Borda on 15 December 1914. Borda was one of the second fleet of Anzacs which left Albany harbour on December 31, 1914. Eleven thousand troops were on board this convoy of 17 ships bound for the Middle East.

Their journey went via Colombo in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Aden in Yemen, the Suez Canal and Port Said in Egypt, before reaching Alexandria on February 3 and completing their disembarkation four days later.

After serving at Gallipoli and a short term as Regimental Medical Officer in the 5th Light Horse regiment, Dr Croll was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and given command of 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance in the Middle East at the start of 1916.

David was twice Mentioned in Dispatches – in late 1916 and again in 1917, and in January 1917 was promoted to Colonel.

He was transferred to transport duties on 16 January 1917 and left Suez for Melbourne on HMAT Euripides (which could carry 2500); he returned, leaving Sydney 9 May 1917, disembarking at Suez in mid June. David served as Commanding Officer Australian Camel Field Ambulance June 1917 to August 23, 1917.

The editorial of The Cacolet September 1917 records this change of role:

"Many familiar faces are missing from our small community, chief among them that of Lt. Col. D. G. Croll [our late O.C. and now A.D.M.S. Anzac Mtd. Divn.] whose name will ever be a kindly memory with us."

In the same issue, Dr Croll tells something of the desert and their work: 

“The sand hills ranging in height from 50 feet to 200 feet are almost perpendicular on one side and on the other slope away like waves of the sea.

Though these hills are barren, scattered among them in deep hollows, are groves of date palms from 50 to 1000 trees and such places are called hods ... in all this country water can be obtained by digging a few feet in any depression. It is very brackish but most horses do well on it, and, in emergency it would sustain life in men. But this water is not easy to get unless materials for well-making are available for as fast as one excavates, the sand falls back into the hole ...

Instead of ambulance waggons [sic] the Light Horse Field Ambulances have sand carts (a broad wheeled light vehicle drawn by four horses – practically a wire mattress on wheels), sledges (a sheet of galvanized iron with the end turned up drawn by two horses and carrying one patient), and cacolets for carrying patients on camels ... horses suffer dreadfully during the day but seldom offer to stop for they know as well as we do that it is no stopping till water is reached.”

We came upon a Turkish Ambulance, bringing in prisoners. We took the Turks to our Camp, and established them there to treat their own wounded ... this work they performed well, and relieved us of what would have been an arduous duty."

He then served as a Temporary Colonel, ADMS (Acting Director Medical Services) ANZ mounted Division. It was following this stage of his career that Sir E Chaylor Maj-Gen KCMG DSO wrote of Croll: 

"A very hard working conscientious and reliable officer. His arrangements on all operations since becoming ADMS to this division have been excellent."

In June 1919 Colonel Croll was awarded a CBE1, and at the end of October Colonel D. G. Croll, CBE, VD2, MB (Syd) returned home.

World War Two

In World War Two, he commanded the 101st Australian Convalescent Depot and the 112th Australian General Hospital which later became known as Greenslopes Hospital.

His post war medical practice was in Sherwood. Dr Croll had a wide range of interests. He was a staunch supporter of the RSL. He was the founder of the British Medical Agency, which was formed to assist doctors in their work; he served as President of the Oxley Sailing Club in 1929, and in 1938 was acting Chairman of Directors for Shareholders of Queensland Holiday Resorts Ltd a company formed in 1934 to provide tourist facilities and accommodation in beauty spots in Queensland and to assist in preserving them in their natural state in accordance with the ideals of the National Parks Association which operated the Lodge at Binna Burra. Dr Croll was a past commodore of the Royal Queensland Yacht Club and was Commissioner of the Sea Scouts.

He also served as president of the BMA.  His extensive papers are held in the John Oxley Library collection. 


Dr David Croll died on 4 May 1948 at Sherwood, Brisbane Qld. His funeral was on 6 May following which he cremated at Mt Thompson Crematorium.  While there are memorial plaques for both him and his wife in the gardens of Mt Thompson, there is no record of the location of his ashes.

Mrs Marian Croll

Dr Croll’s wife, Marian Winifred [Winnie] Croll joined the AANS1 No 1 Australian General Hospital on 11 November 1914 at the age of 28.   She embarked for Egypt on 21 November 1914 on the SS Kyarra. This ship contained a vast medical contingent – the staff and equipment of the 1st Australian General Hospital, the 2nd Australian General Hospital, Numbers 1 & 2 Australian Stationary Hospitals and Number 1 Australian Casualty Clearing Station.

The Kyarra arrived in Egypt on 14 January 1915, and the 1st Australian General Hospital was quickly established in the palatial Heliopolis Palace Hotel a grand building on the north-eastern edge of Cairo with rooms of marble and alabaster. On 24 January 1915 the hospital opened, and began to receive patients of every rank, ailment and injury.

Planned as a 520 bed hospital, by June 1915 it held nearly 2,500 patients.   On 21 January 1916 a medical Board at Heliopolis found that Winnie had extensive dry pleurisy on both sides of the chest due to infection and strain, and said that she ‘be sent to Australia as permanently unfit for active military Service.’ While in Egypt Sister Croll took many photos, 180 of which are now located in the State Library of Queensland.

Winnie Croll was killed at the age of 67 in the BOAC Lockhead Constellation plane crash at Kallang Airport, Singapore on 13 March 1954. She was on her way to Japan to join her sister for a six-week tour.  Colonel D. G. Croll, CBE, VD, mid, MB (Syd), (1885-1948), served in both World Wars, was an eminent Queensland doctor-soldier, and his wife Winnie served in Egypt.   

Dr and Mrs Croll bequeathed their Sherwood family home and surgery to the Sherwood sub-branch of the RSL in 1954. The building became the sub-branch headquarters and was dedicated as The Croll Memorial Centre. In 1967 this name was transferred with the sub-branch to new premises at Corinda.

From 6 August 2006, after various changes over the years as the sub-branch altered its property, the Croll name is attached to the site in front of The Harry Dalziel VC Centre, this site being now designated The Croll Memorial Precinct.

1Commander of the Order of the British Empire
2Volunteer Officer's Decoration

The Brisbane Courier – Monday 15 April 1912, Page 6; The Brisbane Courier – Monday 23 September 1912; The Brisbane Courier - Thursday 8 September 6 May 1948; The Brisbane Courier --Wednesday 25 September 1929; The Courier-Mail , Wednesday 5 May 1948, page 3; The Courier Mail , Thursday 6 May 1948. Page 6.
• Oxley Sailing Club History – 1920s and 1930s Sherwood/Indooroopilly RSL Sub-branch inc webpage
• Australian War Memorial

Compiled by Bob Warrick, Brisbane, 2016.  Edits and new images added by Miriam King, 2023  ©



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