Genealogical society secretary's investigation pays off
HISTORIAN Paulette Flint received an email recently which she initially hesitated to open, but is glad she did.
"As the secretary of the genealogical society Gladstone district I receive many emails which I have to monitor," she said.
"This one was from from Ric Lucas, who alleged to be a lawyer with Colquhoun Murphy Lawyers in Canberra."
Intrigued, Mrs Flint contacted the law firm and was delighted to find the email wasn't a scam as she had initially suspected.
"I rang Colquhoun Murphy and was put in contact with Mr Lucas who assured me that he had sent the email," she said.
"He was doing research on behalf of M. Gilles Prilaux a French archaeologist who had discovered graffiti from hundreds of Australian soldiers in the Naour tunnels.
"Mr Prilaux had written a book about his work and was preparing another.
"He wanted to contact living relatives so that they may learn a little more about their forebear's time on the Western Front.
"Also they would be able to complete the research they had done about the soldier and if possible obtain a photograph.
"He'd attached a couple of newspaper articles, one of which was the marriage of Hilda Petty to Reginald Smith.
"I realised they were the parents of Len Smith who I went to school with.
"I told him I knew Mr Petty's relatives and that I would contact them."
Mrs Flint then called Mr Smith.
"He confirmed Cyril Petty was his grandfather and said he had photos," she said.
"The rest is history.
"I'm so glad I didn't delete that email."