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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Dollery, Edwin Maxwell (Max) (1897–1973)

by R. A. Ferrall

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Edwin Maxwell Dollery (1897-1973), by E. Cranstone

Edwin Maxwell Dollery (1897-1973), by E. Cranstone

Australian War Memorial, 001510

Edwin Maxwell (Max) Dollery (1897-1973), army officer and administrator, was born on 21 April 1897 in Hobart, son of Elias Mark Dollery, civil servant, and his wife Emma Ann, née Byfield. Max was educated at Queen's College (1906-12) and The Hutchins School (1913-14) where he excelled as an all-round sportsman. Having served in the cadets and as an officer in the 93rd (Derwent) Infantry, Militia, on 3 June 1916 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. He sailed for Britain in August, joined the 12th Battalion on the Western Front in July 1917 and was commissioned in October. Wounded in action in May 1918, he convalesced in England and returned to his battalion in August. At Proyart, France, later that month he led a party of six across open country in the face of enemy fire and silenced two machine-guns. He was awarded the Military Cross. His A.I.F. appointment terminated in Australia on 21 April 1919.

Entering the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Federal Capital Territory, in February 1920, Dollery graduated next year. On 4 January 1922 at Holy Trinity Church, Hobart, he married with Anglican rites Norma Agnes Best. He held a succession of posts as adjutant and quartermaster before being sent in 1926 to British Army units in India to study mechanical transport, a subject that was to become his specialization. Back home in 1927, he was promoted captain in 1929 and major in 1938; he spent most of the intervening years on staff and instructional duties connected with motor transport. In 1938 he was posted as assistant-director, mechanization, Army Headquarters, Melbourne.

Seconded to the A.I.F. in April 1940 as lieutenant colonel and posted to Headquarters, he embarked for the Middle East in August. As assistant-director, then deputy-director of ordnance services, he was responsible for managing the force's motor transport requirements. He was appointed O.B.E. in 1942 and arrived home in February 1943. Brigadier-in-charge of administration at headquarters, Northern Territory Force (1943-45), and at headquarters, Queensland Lines of Communication Area (1945-46), he subsequently spent a term in Melbourne as deputy quartermaster general. In September 1947 Dollery went to Hobart as commandant, 6th Military District, where he did much to restore and maintain the city's historic barracks. He was promoted substantive brigadier in 1950 and retired on 21 April 1952.

Dollery's interest in military matters never flagged. He began a collection of military uniforms and artefacts (now the Tasmanian Command Collection, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery) and promoted the Australian Cadet Corps of which he was honorary colonel (Tasmania) in 1962-67. Devoted to The Hutchins School, he was a member (1950-60) and chairman (1951-54 and 1956-58) of its board of management, president (1948-50) of the old boys' association and worshipful master of their Masonic lodge. He was chairman of the Kingborough Commission (1960-71), the Ambulance Board of Southern Tasmania (1966-71) and the Southern Metropolitan Master Planning Authority (1971); he was also a foundation member (1951) of the Tasmanian Historical Research Association and a contributor to the Australian Dictionary of Biography. In 1967 he used his organizational skills to help victims of the State's bushfires.

Survived by one of his two daughters, Dollery died on 17 July 1973 at Ashburton, Melbourne, and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • L. M. Newton, The Story of the Twelfth (Hob, 1925)
  • G. H. Stephens, The Hutchins School, Macquarie Street Years, 1846-1965 (Hob, 1979)
  • Church News (Hobart), Aug 1973
  • Mercury (Hobart), 29 Aug 1968, 18 July 1973
  • private information.

Citation details

R. A. Ferrall, 'Dollery, Edwin Maxwell (Max) (1897–1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 22 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

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