Thanks to the partnership with the Underground City of Naours and its archaeologist Gilles Prilaux, we have been able to make the connection between the soldiers photographed by the Thuillier couple and the soldiers who left graffitis in the caves.
Today we have three Australian soldiers who match : Wilfred Joseph Allen ALLSOP, Herbert John HUNT and Robert BUCHANAN.
The first identified soldier from Naours and the Thuillier collection is ALLSOP. Wilfred lived in Sydney where he was a clerk. He enlisted at the age of 22 on the 23rd July 1915 and joined the 8th Field Ambulance as a courier and stretcher bearer. He left Australia on 10th November 1915 aboard the HMAT Ascanius A11. He spent time in Alexandria and left for Marseille on the 17th June 1916.
He temporary serves the 15th Field Ambulance and joined after the 8th Field Ambulance. The brigade spent time in Armentières until October and moved to Bailleul and Dernancourt. The brigade moved to Château of Olincourt and Vignacourt around the 7th November 1916. Wilfred visited the caves of Naours with his mates at this time.
Wilfred was transferred on 23rd March 1918 to the Australian Corps Signal Company as a sapper. He wrote about his life as a soldier in a diary he held from 23rd July to 31st Decembre 1917. He was stationed in Vignacourt at this moment.
ALLSOP returned to Australia on 19th April 1919 on the ship SARDENIA and disembarked 13th June 1919. He was discharged (for termination of period of enlistment) on 5th August 1919.
On the photo of the Thuillier collection, Wilfred Joseph Allen ALLSOP take the pose on a bike, a common passion with Louis Thuillier.
More recently, the soldier Herbert John HUNT has been identified in the Thuillier collection. Herbert, born in London, enlisted on 22nd July 1915 at the age of 20.He embarked in October 1915 on ship HORORATA at Fremantle. He joined the 4th Machine Gun Company in 1915. He quickly climbed the military ranks from "private" to "Corporal Lance", "Sergeant", Warrant Officer Class II and finally "Lieutenant". Noticed by his superiors for his qualities, he is decorated with the "Military Cross" in May 1917 for "his remarkable bravery and devotion to duty".
On 10th August 1918, he is "Sergeant-Lieutenant" in the 4th Machine Gun Battalion and is killed in action at the age of 23. On 20th August, his father get a receives a letter with a green suitcase containing his son's personal belongings : photos, postcards, books, clothes, razors, hairbrush and wool scarf are the few things Herbert carried with him.
This valiant young man appears in the Thuillier collection on a sidecar with one of his comrades. This photo is on display at the Vignacourt Interpretative Centre.
His grave is located in France, at the military cemetary of Cerisy-Gailly, a few kilometers from Le Hamel and Villers-Bretonneux.