The Silent Soldiers of Naours
stories from beneath the Somme.
Photos courtesy Dominique Bossut/Gilles Prilaux/Inrap/Cité souterraine de Naours
During the Great War , over 2000 signatures were left on the walls of these underground limestone Caves in Picardy in France. They are a legacy to the men to fought and a legacy to future generations. These are the stories of the "Silent Soldiers of Naours."
The Story of the Naours Caves and the Aussie connection.
Special Thanks to Gilles Prilaux/Dominque Bossut/INRAP/Cité souterraine de Naours for Website Content.
Another soldier identified by a relative!
Henry James Browne AIF 576
( special thanks to his granddaughter who he never met -Maree White)
…...…….She has travelled to the Somme but never knew of Naours and the secrets that the caves there hold.
Maree’s sister Suzanne White made the wonderful discovery on our website!
Henry James Browne, known as Harry to his family, was my grandfather, he joined the AIF in October 1914 in Brisbane. His family at the time were living in the Lismore, a town in the north of New South Wales. His father, Robert Browne, was the editor of the "Northern Star" - the regional newspaper. The towns are about 200 km apart but Harry had connections with Brisbane having been born there. This may have been the closest centre to enlist
He was placed in the 15th Battalion and sent to train at a camp in the state of Victoria. The camp was at in a semi rural suburb of Broadmeadows, a part of greater Melbourne.
It was in Melbourne that he met his future wife, my grandmother Margaret Leo Conway. They married when Harry returned from the War.
He was awarded medal for Bravery in the Field (Military
Medal) for action during the battle of Pozieres.
https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/R1585011 If you click on this link you will find there is a PDF document outlining his actions. Interestingly, the other soldier who was awarded with MM with Harry, L/Corporal Herbert Evens, also has engraved his name in the caves. Herbert Evens was also known as Herbert Francis Auld and also known as, post WW1, Donald Alan Auld Mcgregor. His service number was 591.
He wrote many letters back to his father during the war,and letters to his sweetheart Margaret Conway. One letter is particularly difficult to read. Harry wrote it upon his return to Brisbane whilst he is in hospital. He describes the symptoms of PTSD clearly. We also have some photographs taken during the war and a formal portrait of him in his uniform.
Finally, although Harry passed away in 1950 (I never met him), my mother spoke passionately about her father and his interests. She described him as a gentle intelligent man who would help out anyone. He had an interest in politics, both local and national and would listen fervently to the broadcasts from our Federal Parliament on the radio. He was enthralled by radio and would wax lyrical about how incredible it was to have such technology. Mum would tell me with tears in her eyes, how he would have loved television. (Australia only got television broadcasts in 1956). I do wonder what dear Harry would think of mobile phones, GPS and the internet.
Harry marched in every ANZAC day parade whilst his health allowed. Often he would take my mother along to march beside him.
( thankyou to Dr Maree White for identifying her Grandfather's Signature at Naours)