Edward Gibaut: the soldier in the unmarked grave

Who was Edward James Gibaut?

That query has come from a man by the name of Ric Lucas, who was working on behalf of a French archeologist who is trying to uncover a mystery.

In France there is an extensive network of caves in a place called Naours – it’s a little bit north of Amiens, a city in the Somme region. It is there that the archeologist, Monsieur Gilles Prilaux, discovered that hundreds of soldiers from across the world had left graffiti on the Caves’ walls. 

One of these soldiers happened to be Lance Corporal Edward James Gibaut.

Monsieur Prilaux contacted Mr Lucas, who in turn contacted the Herald, to see if any living relatives of Mr Gibaut could be found in Naracoorte, where he was laid to rest. They want to talk to them to learn more about Edward.

Here is what the Herald learned about Mr Gibaut from Mr Lucas. As this information has not yet been fully verified, it may be subject to change:

Edward Gibaut was born in 1898, on March 6. His family are of French origin, originally from the isle of Jersey. 

His father was also named Edward, and was a firefighter in South Australia.

Before World War One, Edward had trained to join the office of the Postmaster General. These communications and messenger skills were apparently useful in his time as a Lance Corporal, however not many details are mentioned.

He was wounded during the war, recovering in a British hospital. Whilst on leave in 1917 he visited his relatives in Jersey.

He also served his country in World War Two, as a General in the home guard. His younger brother, Francis, also served in the war.

The Gibaut brothers were active sportspeople. Francis excelled at Australian Rules football and Edward was multi-skilled.

Edward married Annie Isobel “Belle” Pinkerton, however it’s not known when or where they were married.

He worked as the postmaster at Angaston, and died in Naracoorte. He was buried in 1977 at the Naracoorte cemetery. Belle died in 1995, and is also buried in Naracoorte, in the same plot.

Whilst it’s still unknown at this stage if Edward or Bella had any children, the Gibaut family tree is reportedly large.

With assistance from the Naracoorte Lucindale Council, the grave of Edward and Bella Gibaut was located in the Naracoorte cemetery. They are buried at plot E1565.

After a public callout for information, the Herald has so far been ably assisted by Christianne Diesslin, Jana Ludwig-Fablis, and the Headstone Project. We have been contacted by other sources, and will update the story if and when new information comes to light.

One of the first pieces of information revealed that Edward had also worked at the Naracoorte Post Office. Whilst his family had been based in Semaphore, his wife’s family were Pinkertons of Naracoorte.

Edward was described as “an efficient and courteous officer”, and was also involved in the Naracoorte sub-branch of the RSL. He was Treasurer and Assistant Secretary for a time, and described as a “pillar” of the local RSL.

Edward was also a team member of the Naracoorte Football Club. On the field he was remembered as having “fine gentlemanly traits”.

He worshipped at the St Thomas Church, and dabbled in soccer. 

When Edward transferred to the Millicent post office in 1928, more than fifty people gathered at the Golden Gate Cafe to farewell him in glowing terms. In his own speech of farewell, Edward expressed regret at having to leave Naracoorte.

At some point before 1930 he returned to Naracoorte and was the coach of the Naracoorte FC team, before being transferred to Murray Bridge to work in their post office in 1934. Once again a crowd came out to see him off, this time at the Commercial Hotel. Edward had been so liked by his staff that they gave him a gift of a smoking jacket.

The Naracoorte RSL were also sad to see him go, having given him the affectionate nickname “Gib”.

“They (the RSL) had to say farewell to "Gib," who had been one of their staunchest workers and as far as the local branch was concerned, he was "It”,” reads a sentence in a Herald brief from 1934.

“Although they might never get another "Gib", they would try and carry on the good work.”

As for Belle, her mother may have been named Rhoda, and she had English-Scottish heritage. Her grandparents weren’t born in Australia. One or both of Belle’s parents may have lived near the Gibauts at one point.

A few days before this article was written, a representative of The Headstone Project reached out to the Naracoorte Herald, having seen the original callout.

They explained that Edward would qualify for a headstone which recognised his military service. From the site:

“Either a simple headstone is installed on an unmarked grave, or a plinth on an existing grave where the veteran’s name does not appear on the memorial.”

The investigation is ongoing as we have still not located living relatives of Edward and Belle Gibaut. If you have any information please call 8762 2555.