Barbara Hamilton and her husband Ian David Hamilton lay a wreath for her World War I hero grandfather Cecil Northover at the Gardens Cemetery. Picture: Keri Megleus
Barbara Hamilton and her husband Ian David Hamilton lay a wreath for her World War I hero grandfather Cecil Northover at the Gardens Cemetery. Picture: Keri Megleus

War hero’s pauper’s grave turned into sacred remembrance

AN AUSTRALIAN war hero who fought in Gallipoli and Darwin and won a military cross finally has a marked grave at Gardens Cemetery after being buried in a paupers grave,

War hero Cecil Northover's body was buried in a paupers grave after his death in 1949, marked only by the number '1084', hidden from his surviving family.

That was until early last year, when his grand daughter Barb Hamilton and her husband Ian undertook a mission to find his grave.

"Ian did most of the work I have to say … he was going to persevere, we travelled up here on the cruise ship and were able to locate the stone number 1084 and then we went back to Perth and started more research, and finally here we are today which is a very special day for the family," Ms Hamilton said.

The couple knew some details but wanted to find out as much as they could to try and honour Barb's late mother's dying wish.

"(We knew) very little before he enlisted, slightly more of his time in the services but more so when he came back into civilian life where he suffered from shell shock (PTSD) and it really affected his family," Mr Hamilton said.

"That was the spur which got our rear ends into this and to get going."

More details of Northover's life came from local historians Garry Gallagher, who runs the Bombing of Darwin WWII tours and Sean Johnston, who discovered Northover moved from Perth to Darwin shortly prior to WWII as a result of post traumatic stress disorder and a number of other obstacles in returning home.

"A military cross winner in World War I and he came home alive, rose to the rank of lieutenant from private and went back to civilian life," Mr Gallagher said.

"The Japanese were bombing Darwin in WWII and he re-enlisted as a private so he could fire a gun. He's fought in two world wars … that's amazing."

Mr Johnston said it was great to see someone with such a legacy honoured properly. "This was the ultimate, this is what we wanted so we finally get to tick that box now," Mr Johnston said.

"We thought it was pretty important someone of his background should have a recognition here in Darwin."