Len Smith is now enjoying retirement after years of running the business.
Len Smith is now enjoying retirement after years of running the business. Mike Richards GLA240217SMITH

Historic signature of Gladstone soldier found in French cave

THE signature of a WW1 soldier from Gladstone was recently found scratched into the wall of a cave in northern France.

A French archaeologist has been recording graffiti in an extensive network of caves and tunnels under Naours a town near the Somme battlefields.

CYRIL PETTY: Young Gladstone soldier had lied about his age in order to go to war in 1915
CYRIL PETTY: Young Gladstone soldier had lied about his age in order to go to war in 1915

Among the hundreds of Australian soldier's names found was Gunner Cyril Stephen Petty.

Mr Petty's grandson Len Smith said he was surprised when he received a call from historian Paulette Flint recently who had been contacted by lawyers representing the archaeologist looking for relatives of soldiers who had made their mark in the famous caves.

 

CYRIL PETTY: Signature from WW1 Gladstone soldier found in tunnels in France.
CYRIL PETTY: Signature from WW1 Gladstone soldier found in tunnels in France.

"I contacted the lawyer who had been in touch with Paulette," he said.

"He sent me an email wanting more information about my grandfather.

"So I sent him a photo of granddad in his full dress uniform for their records.

"I always knew him as Poppy Steve, but he didn't like to talk about his war service.

"I knew he'd put his age up to join the army and I'm pretty sure he served in Gallipoli.

"He was very patriotic and did what he had to do at the time, but it was something he never liked to talk about.

"He ended up with a very bad shrapnel wound in his lower leg."

 

Mr Petty was born in Bournemouth and had moved to Australia as a boy.

"After the war Pop remained in the area for the rest of his life," Mr Smith said.

"He married a young girl, Beatrice Shuck, who had also come out from England to be an au pair for the Farmer family on a property near Calliope.

"My dad Reg Smith married their daughter Hilda.

"Pop passed away in his early 80's in 1978 and Nanna Beatrice was nearly 101 when she died.

"They're both buried in the old cemetery on Dawson Road."

Mr Smith said he had many fond memories of his grandfather.

"He was always making stuff in his tool-shed and he taught me to use a saw and chisel when I was about five year's old," he said.

"I've followed in his footsteps in that regard."

It seems Gunner Petty not only left his name on a wall in France, but he made an impression on his grandson as well.



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