There has been a wonderful new ending to the story of Young Digger. Readers of Anthony Hill’s novel will recall the book ends with a hope that Henri’s damaged grave at Fawkner Cemetery would one day be restored. This has now happened. Moreover, 4 Squadron has been re-formed, and links re-established with Digger's Australian family.
A new gravestone has been erected by the RAAF Association in Victoria and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. It was re-dedicated in November 2009, in the presence of the Minister, Alan Griffin, and most importantly of Mrs Edith Lock, Tim Tovell’s only surviving daughter.
Nancy had died in July 2007, a week after her 94th birthday, but three of her four children were there: the family gathered to honour Tim’s adoptive son in a way they were not invited to when the boy died or the first grave was dedicated. This time Edie spoke most movingly of her memories of the boy whom she has always considered ‘my big brother.’ RAAF Chaplain Keith Lanyon hoped that Young Digger’s story would remind us of all war orphans.
The new tombstone now bears the verse that Tim Tovell always wanted. And the ceremony was honoured by members of the RAAF’s recently re-formed 4 Squadron whose CO, Wing Commander Dave Paddison, spoke of the importance of Young Digger in the squadron's history.Past and present have come together; and the rejection Tim’s family felt after Digger died has been made whole. A great ending to the tale.
YOUNG DIGGER NEW PRINTING
Anthony referred to the replacement of Henri’s tombstone in a new ending to the sixth printing of Young Digger in 2009. The re-formation of 4 Squadron – for a third time – will be mentioned in future editions of the book. The unit was first formed in October 1916; re-formed during the Second World War; and again in 2009, where members are currently serving in Afghanistan.For readers who have earlier editions of the story, this is how the new ending presently reads, from the pickup on page 235:
So, as the Reverend Perry suggested in his eulogy for Digger, these family circles in France and Australia that had cherished the boy known as Henri Hemene Tovell, were made one again before eternity. His grave is still in Fawkner Cemetery, though as it became increasingly damaged over the years the tombstone was replaced in 2009 in a fine gesture by the RAAF Association in Victoria and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
It is a much more simple granite slab than the original, perhaps more in keeping with the war orphan it honours and whose real identity is ultimately unknown. Yet it now bears the words that Tim Tovell so dearly wanted, and which can also be seen on little Timmy’s grave at Jandowae.