Saturday, April 14, 2007

Army Poster Boy Was a Deserter

Marcel Caux died in 2004 at age 105. He was given a state funeral as one of Australia's last five World War I veterans, and an army recruitment poster bearing his image recently won a competition. But soon after his death, historians discovered that he was a deserter and a bigamist.

Ms [Lynette] Silver and Ms [Di] Elliott discovered that records issued in the name of Marcel Caux described the war service of Harold Katte, who was born in 1899 in Marrickville, although some records say Hurstville. Ms Silver points out that he had five names, five signatures, three nationalities, three places of birth, three dates of birth, three mothers, three fathers and two wives, simultaneously.
Though injured three times in battle, Katte's service was not wholly exemplary.
He had gone absent without leave for seven days in July 1917, for which he served 14 days in close confinement. He went AWL again in June 1918, when French authorities arrested him in the port of Brest, where he was said to be posing as a Frenchman. [Link]
Australia placed 376,000 World War I service records online this week, so you can search for the two-timing Aussie deserters in your own family tree.

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