Arriving home from the First World War, 2198 Private (Pte) Timothy William (Tim) Tovell, Henri ...

Accession Number P03894.001
Collection type Photograph
Object type Black & white - Print silver gelatin
Maker Unknown
Place made Australia: Queensland
Date made July 1919
Conflict Period 1910-1919
First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Arriving home from the First World War, 2198 Private (Pte) Timothy William (Tim) Tovell, Henri Heremene (Digger) and Nancy in a flag decorated motor car that transported them from Jimbour to Jandowae, the site of Pte Tovell's family home in Queensland. Henri was a French orphan boy who became the child mascot of No 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, after he wandered into their Christmas dinner on 25 December 1918, while they were stationed at Bickendorf airfield in Cologne, Germany. Henri was nicknamed Digger and he attached himself to Pte Tovell, an air mechanic with the squadron. It was established that from about the age of six he had been a mascot to several British units and had been wounded in the knee near Ypres. His father had been killed in action with the French Army and his mother was killed in a bombardment. Henri moved with the squadron in February 1919 to France, and later England, where a special tailored AIF uniform was made for him in London. The squadron embarked for Australia on 6 May 1919 and Digger was smuggled on board in a sporting equipment hamper. The ship's Captain discovered he was on board but let him stay and special permission was granted for him to land in Sydney and move to Queensland. Pte Tovell and Digger arrived at the Tovell family home at Jandowae where Digger was accepted as a family member. The French Consul agreed that Digger could be adopted by Tim Tovell but he could not be naturalised until he was 21. In 1926 at the age of 18 Digger left for Melbourne to work for the RAAF as a civilian member at Point Cook until he was naturalized and considered for entry into the service. On 24 May 1928 Digger died from injuries received when his motor cycle collided with a taxi the night before.

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