Henri Hemene Tovell was a young French orphan who was “adopted” by the men of No 4 Squadron Australian Flying Corps during their service in France in World War I. Henri was eventually “smuggled” to Australia where he was later formally adopted by Mr Tim Tovell (who had planned and conducted Henri’s journey to Australia). Tragically, Henri was killed in a motor cycle accident while returning to the Laverton Air Base.
Although not formally a member of the Air Force, he was accorded a military style funeral and the Australian Flying Corp erected a striking monument over his grave at the Fawkner Cemetery in Melbourne.
With the passage of time the grave site and monument suffered at the hands of vandals and general lack of attention. Ultimately the Air Force Association accepted responsibility for the grave site and recently instigated a project to renovate Henri’s grave site.
Aided by a contribution from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the grave site has now been restored.
During the restoration planning process the Association was able to contact Mrs Edith Lock, the adoptive sister of Henri. Mrs Lock was able to confirm that the quote selected for the new Headstone were words that had a special significance for Henri and her Father, and believes that is what her father would have wanted.