Sunday, 13 September 2009

Charles Edward Fitzhenry - 9th Battalion Australian Infantry Forces

Gary Wemyss sent me an email after he had taken a trip to France and found the mark of a Fitzhenry in an unusual place.
He writes:

I came across this tourist brochure a while ago in France. The brochure is for the Caves of Naours an underground city built in the 3rd century and used during the 2 world wars by the Australians during WW1 and the Germans during WW2. Not terribly interesting on a first look but one of the pictures shows some graffiti from the WW1 made by members of the 9th Battalion Australians. What's interesting is the name of one of them being C Fitzhenry.

Full text is:
9th Batt Australians
C Fitzhenry
Paddington Sydney NSW
1916 July

Alistair Ross

It is possible that this could have been made by Charles Edward FITZHENRY?
(b. 1889, Sandy Ck,Casino NSW, son of William Herbert and Elizabeth Fitzhenry. Occupation shearer, d. 21 Aug 1918, France, buried Aug 1918, Le Treport, France. Memorial of death found on parents grave at Waverley. NSW.)
I think this indeed the same man. Charles Edward Fitzhenry is a member of Alan Hagenson's Fitzhenry tree and Alan's information about him supports him being there in France at this time. Interestingly Charles Fitzhenry enlisted and served as William Doyle.

Gary has put a super photo of the graffiti on his website, and also scans of the front and back of the brochure.

Why not subscribe to this blog and get the updates sent to your inbox? Or send us an email about your Fitz(-)henry family links.


  1. Recently published:

  2. Hello !
    My name is Lucie, I live in France (Somme).I’m 13 years old. I live near Naours and its Cave. With my college, I have a project called “Soldats Voyageurs”. The project is about the Australians during the 1st world war. We are 20 in this club and we are all volunteers. I must take a photo about an Australian’s graffiti. Found in Naours’ caves. I have 2 soldiers’ name: Alister Ross (probably known by Charles Edward Fitzhenry if they were not friends) and Charles Edward Fitzhenry/William Doyle. My mission is a lot of information, search all the things about him during the war and contact a person from their family. My project won 2 prizes, one in France (3rd prize) and in Australia (1st prize (Sadlier Stokes)).
    I saw an article about Charles’ tree, I was very interested. I have taken 2 graffitis in photos written by Charles, one with his real name and another with William Doyle.
    Charles’ history:
    Charles was born the 23rd of February 1888 in Casino, near Lismore, Australia. His father was Michael Herbert (he died before the war) and his mother was Elizabeth Doyle/Fitzhenry. He had many sisters and brothers who had wives and husbands. Charles was Roman Catholic. Physically, he had dark hair, he was suntanned or had a black skin and he had bluish eyes.
    Before the war, Charles worked for the Australian Naval Force for 3 years. His service number was the 865. He was an ordinary seaman. He served the ANF only 3 years because he was discharged.
    After that, he was shearer and lost his little finger on his hand.
    The 21st of September 1914, Charles joined the army known as William Doyle, the reasons of its modifications are unknown. Doyle was his grand-mother’s family name. His service number was the 1126. He went to the 9th Infantry (like Alister, my second soldier who moved to Lismore with his brother).
    During the war, Charles was sick, but, it wasn’t serious. Charles fled the trenches during the New Year and was punished. He was in captivity for 168 hours and wasn’t paid for 20 days. But, the 12nd of august 1918, Charles was wounded at his head and was unconscious. His friend, called Mister Carr, saw Charles and helped him. Charles was admitted to a very big Australian hospital but stayed unconscious and died the 21st August 1918. He hadn’t got any children. I’ll go to Le TrĂ©port to see Charles’ tomb and take photos.
    If anybody has more information, can he or she write a comment please? And, of course, can I contact one person in his family?
    Many thanks with advance,


    Sources: national archives of Australia, Australian War Memorial and your blog.

  3. Dear Lucie
    This a wonderful piece of writing. To publicise your search for a living descendant of Charles Fitzhenry, I've made it into its own blog posting.
    Best wishes
    Jo Fitz-Henry (Blog writer)