Marcel Caux, one of Australia’s longest-surviving World War I veterans, died on Aug. 22. Cause of death was not released. He was 106.
Born on March 1, 1899, Caux lied about his age in order to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force at 16. He sailed to Egypt with the 17th Infantry Battalion and later joined the 20th Infantry Battalion, which fought in France and on the western front during World War I. Caux was injured three times in battle, including a gunshot wound to the knee. He was convalescing in England when the Germans and the Allies ended the war on Nov. 11, 1918.
Caux returned to Australia the following year with a shattered knee that prevented him from walking properly for the rest of his life. He repeatedly applied for government assistance but was always denied. Angry at this reception, Caux destroyed all of his war records, including photographs, and became a carpenter. He also refused to discuss his military service with anyone.
In 1998, the French government awarded Caux the Legion of Honor medal. Since his “secret” was out, he broke his 80-year silence on the subject and appeared at the 2001 Remembrance Day ceremony in Sydney.
Flags flew at half-mast today as New South Wales Premier Bob Carr, Veterans Affairs Minister Danna Vale and Pierre Seillan, the French ambassador to Australia, attended Caux’s state funeral. With his passing, only four Australian World War I veterans remain.