Fam­ily trav­els to Bel­gium to hon­our Charles Ea­cott

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEWS -

Four great nieces and neph­ews of a Long­warry solider killed on the Western Front in Europe in World War 1 but whose grave re­mained un­known un­til last year re­cently made an emotional trip for the reded­i­ca­tion of his grave at Birr Cross Roads Ceme­tery in Bel­gium.

Charles Arthur Ea­cott was killed in bat­tle on Septem­ber 20, 1917, less than 12 hours af­ter join­ing the front line for the first time.

He was one of five Ea­cott cousins of two fam­i­lies from the Long­warry area that en­listed, one of his cousins Fran­cis also killed dur­ing fight­ing in 1917.

Grand nieces Jen­nifer Mur­nane (nee Ea­cott) and San­dra John­ston (nee Wat­son) and grand neph­ews Bill and Al­lan Ea­cott and their part­ners trav­elled firstly to Eng­land, re­trac­ing where Charles was sta­tioned and trained be­fore his em­barka­tion for Europe.

They then went to Bel­gium and to Black Watch Cor­ner where he was killed, the Menin Gate Me­mo­rial that records his name and to the Birss Cross Roads Ceme­tery where 98 years af­ter he died he is now buried be­neath a marked grave­stone.

He died along­side two com­rades, one of them Henry Hunts­man who came from Loch whose grave also pre­vi­ously re­mained un­known.

The ded­i­cated work over sev­eral years of Fallen Dig­ger or­gan­i­sa­tion’s An­drew Pittway and Den­nis Frank iden­ti­fied the re­mains of Pri­vates Ea­cott and Hunts­man.

The reded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony on the 98th an­niver­sary of their deaths, and that of the third mem­ber of the group Pte Neil­son, whose grave re­mained iden­ti­fied, was a mov­ing oc­ca­sion.

It was also given high recog­ni­tion by the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment with those at­tend­ing and of­fi­ci­at­ing in­clud­ing the Aus­tralian Am­bas­sador to Bel­gium Mark Hig­gie, the se­nior Aus­tralian De­fence Force Of­fi­cer in Europe Rear Ad­mi­ral Al­lan Du Toit, the Aus­tralian De­fence At­tache to Bel­gium Com­man­der Emma Gaudry, the premier sec­re­tary of the Department of Veter­ans Af­fairs Jen­nifer Stephenson and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Com­mon­wealth War Graves Com­mis­sion.

San­dra John­ston re­calls the early morn­ing be­fore the cer­e­mony at the ceme­tery when the fam­ily party re-en­acted their great un­cle’s jour­ney from the night be­fore and through the morn­ing of his death and the sense of “feel­ing” and “pres­ence” that was with them all.

“There was a foggy, misty eerie en­ergy sur­round­ing us and a cou­ple of un­usual cloud for­ma­tions that lasted only sec­onds,” she said.

Four great neph­ews and nieces of Pri­vate Charles Ea­cott, killed on the Western Front in Bel­gium in 1917, but whose grave was un­known un­til last year, at­tended the re­cent nam­ing and reded­i­ca­tion of his grave at Birr Cross Roads Ceme­tery in Bel­gium. Stand­ing at the grave­side af­ter the for­mal cer­e­mony are, from left, Bill and Al­lan Ea­cott, San­dra John­ston (nee Wat­son) and Jen­nifer Mur­nane (nee Ea­cott).

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