St. Arnaud’s own Maurice Claxton, a soldier born in 1892, has finally been found after over a century in an unmarked grave.
Maurice made the ultimate sacrifice during the Battle of Fromelles in July 1916, fighting alongside his brother Theodore. While Theodore survived as a Prisoner of War and returned home in 1919, Maurice’s fate remained a haunting mystery until now.
In a poignant letter composed during his captivity, Theodore shared his recollections with their parents in Victoria, shedding light on their final moments together: “I don’t know where Maurice got to. We were together until we made the charge, then we got separated. I am getting treated all right here, but I will not be sorry when the war is over,” Theodore wrote.
On April 23, 2023, Maurice was officially identified as one of the fallen soldiers buried at Pheasant Wood Cemetery in Fromelles, France.
As part of a poignant ceremony hosted last Wednesday, July 19, 2023 at Fromelles, Maurice and six other soldiers identified in the past year will be honoured with individual headstones bearing their names.
The Association, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to identifying soldiers, has successfully identified 173 soldiers so far, but 77 remain unnamed.
Geoffrey Benn, President of the Association, expressed gratitude for the invaluable contributions that helped identify Maurice, emphasising the collaborative effort with families and the Fromelles Project team.
The Association is appealing to the local residents of St. Arnaud for any photographs or information concerning Maurice and Theodore Claxton, as they continue their quest to uncover their story. The images of the brothers hold immense significance in honouring their memory.
Additionally, in the year Maurice is officially commemorated on the French battlefield, the Association believes it is fitting to recognize Theodore Claxton’s grave and acknowledge his own contributions to the war effort.
The Association remains unwavering in its commitment to meticulously researching the lives of these soldiers and preserving their stories in a captivating digital living history. By shedding light on the rich heritage of Fromelles, encompassing both triumphs and hardships, the Association aims to impart future generations with a profound understanding of their ancestral legacy.
For more information about Maurice and Theodore Claxton, and to contribute photographs or information, visit: https://fromelles.info/soldiers/1239-private-maurice-james-claxton/
To learn more about the Fromelles Association, visit www.fromelles.info or find them on Facebook at “Fromelles Association of Australia”.
This article appeared in The Buloke Times, 21 July 2023.