Born in Tasmania before moving to South Australia, Eric Douglas Meldrum was a 23 year-old civil servant living a quiet existence in the southern Adelaide suburb of Millswood when war broke out.
He was a well-regarded sprinter, and must have run fast when he heard the army were recruiting – the RSL Virtual War Memorial notes that on account of his two digit service number, Meldrum was likely one of the very first to enlist when the Morphettville Racecourse camp opened.
It appears he was eager to serve at the beginning, but the decision would come back to haunt him.
Meldrum survived the Gallipoli landing and fought in the trenches for nearly three months, before having his forearm fractured by a piece of shrapnel that would leave him unable to fight.
He was invalidated and sent back to Egypt in July 1915.
His older brother Roy Stevenson Meldrum enlisted just months later and was shipped to France to fight on the Western Front in 1916.
He was wounded in 1918 and returned to Australia where he rejoined his family.
On return to his peaceful South Australian existence, Eric, the younger of the two, found it difficult to readjust.
The champion sprinter might have been able to outrun the scopes of Turkish snipers, but he wasn’t able to flee from his own demons.
It is not known whether it was post-traumatic stress, the loss of dear friends, or something else entirely, but on April 8, 1922, Meldrum took his own life.
His brother Roy died in 1965.