Gontran DE TOURNOüER

DE TOURNOüER, Gontran

Service Number: 109
Enlisted: 21 August 1914, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 11th Field Artillery Brigade
Born: Vendôme, France, 27 August 1885
Home Town: Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Bank clerk
Died: Natural causes, Brisbane, Queensland, 13 July 1929, aged 43 years
Cemetery: Toowong (Brisbane General) Cemetery
Plot. 10, Row 58, Grave No. 17
Memorials:
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World War 1 Service

21 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 109, Brisbane, Queensland
24 Sep 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 109, 2nd Light Horse Regiment, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
24 Sep 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 109, 2nd Light Horse Regiment, HMAT Star of England, Brisbane
21 Apr 1915: Transferred AIF WW1, Corporal, 4th Divisional Ammunition Column
8 Sep 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Corporal, 11th Field Artillery Brigade
18 Jul 1917: Discharged AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 109, 11th Field Artillery Brigade , Medically discharged

Help us honour Gontran De Tournoüer's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Paul Trevor

'The de Tournouër Family

Gontran de Tournouër was born in France in 1885, Gontran was the son of Louis Marie Maurice de Tournouër and Marie Cecile Laffitte. The de Tournouërs were members of the French nobility and Louis was the heir to the family title. Gontran’s parents were divorced and he accompanied his mother and siblings, René, Roger, Jean and Odette to Australia in 1904 when he was 19 years old. His older brother, Jacques remained in France. Their mother remarried within days of arriving in Australia to a William Miller.

Gontran married Helen Waraker in Queensland in 1909. In 1914 he enlisted in the AIF. His brothers, Jacques, René and Roger (and possibly Jean) enlisted in the French Army as did their Father. Roger had tried to enlist in the AIF but was rejected so travelled at his own expense to France and enlisted there.

René, Jacques and their Father died during the war while serving in the French Army. Jacques was the heir of the family title after their Father, so upon his death in 1915, Gontran became next in line. Their Grandfather was still living but he died in December 1916, just before their Father, Louis died on 1 January 1917. Louis never received the notification of his Father’s death and elevation to the family title of Comte. Upon his Father’s death in 1917, Corporal Gontran de Tournouër of the AIF became Comte de Tournouër.

Gontran, Roger, Jean (who became known as ‘John’) and Odette continued to live in Australia after the war. They all lived in Queensland but Gontran suffered from ill health after the war and was advised by doctors in 1928 to move to a cooler climate. He contacted the Memorial offering some of his Father’s uniforms for donation. He also enquired if there were any jobs going at his current level as he had expertise in languages. He did not end up making the move to a cooler climate and died in Queensland on 13 July 1929.' LINK (www.awm.gov.au)

'More Billycan Letters.

Mrs. Rees received the following interesting communication by the last mail:— "2nd Light Horse Regiment, 19/1/16— Madame, Through some mistake the men of the 2nd (Queensland) Light Horse were given South Australian 'billies,' and I had the pleasure of receiving the one you kindly sent. I cannot express 'currente calamo' my gratitude, but hope to do so (if a shot does not speed me ad patres) viva voce someday. Though not received in the trenches, the contents were more than appreciated, and brought home nearer to me. I am not so lucky as your son, and have seen no fighting since I enlisted in 1914. I received a kick in the abdomen in March, 1915, which necessitated a painful operation, and got me invalided twice to Australia. While awaiting the boat, I stowed away with New Zealanders going to the front, but was detected and then I managed to dodge the Australian boats till I secured the post of O.R. Sergeant in Alexandria. On December 10 the seventh doctor I interviewed (to reverse the decision that made me Class C— permanently unfit) by a lucky fluke passed me Class A (fit for active service) and I asked to be relieved. Having missed going with my regiment again, I have obtained leave to go with the Camel Corps (I already had served with camels in 1903 in the French Army) with a Commission, owing to having given mine up to go with the first lot. I'd give any thing to return to my dear wife and home, but I must keep on for duty and family's sake.

There has always been a Tournouer, an officer in each generation since 1845, and all present Tournouers (eleven) are in the firing line, except myself worse luck. My eldest brother Jacques, a Zouaves sergeant, died as all Tournouers do—in action—on 6th June after sustaining three wounds, being mentioned four times, receiving the War Cross, and being recommended for a Commission. My younger Australian brother, Rene, received his Commission in the same Company for conspicuous gallantry. My uncle Andre, of the French Aviation Corps, received the War Cross for destroying single-handed two Taubes. The youngest brother, Jean, is an Australian trooper, and Roger is an artillery Corporal, while my father, a Knight of the Legion of Honour, is Lieut.-Col. of the 9th Chasseurs. Of two Russian cousins one, Col. the Viscount de Tournouer, was killed near Lodz, and the other, Baron de Tournouer, is a sub. in the Preobrajensky Guards. An elderly cousin, Henri de Tournouer, Baron de Varsy, is in the Red Cross. Their ages range from 16 to 62. We have lost many relations besides, but not pure Tournouers. I hope your son will come back safe and sound to you soon. I am taking the extreme liberty of sending you a war souvenir (bomb). Again thanking you for your very kind thoughts, I am, Madame, yours very truly, Corporal G. de Tournouer, B.A." from Kapunda Herald 3 Mar 1916 (nla.gov.au)

'Comte G. de Tournouer.

THE death occurred, at St. Martin's Hospital, Brisbane, on Sunday, of Comte G. de Tournouer, B.Litt. The deceased, who was librarian to the Department of Agriculture and Stock, was born at Tintivy, Brittany, where his family, who belonged to the old French nobility, had lived for centuries. He graduated in Literature in Paris, and afterwards travelled extensively in Central and South America. While a young man, he came to Queensland with others of his family, and engaged in sugar growing and grazing in the Wide Bay district. On the outbreak of war he enlisted in the A.I.F., and served with the Light Horse in Egypt, and later with the Camel Corps. He was transferred later to the 4th Divisional Artillery, and went with that formation to France. After a lengthy term on active service he was invalided home, and was afterwards appointed to the Military Censor Staff, on which his linguistic attainments— he could speak fluently every European language, as well as Arabic— were of special value. His father, Captain de Tournouer, and two of his brothers, were killed in action while serving with the French Army.

The late Comte was afterwards appointed to the Agricultural Bank, and then to the Department of Agriculture and Stock. He was a prominent member of the Alliance Francaise, and for a number of years was president. He was an able contributor on Australian subjects to the French periodical press. He was recently awarded the honour of Chevalier of Agricultural Merit by the French Government, on the recommendation of Marshal Petain, in recognition of his services to General Pau's Australian mission, and just prior to that he received the decoration, Officier de l'Academie, for other services. The deceased is survived by his wife and infant daughter. Two brothers, John and Roger, are engaged in pastoral pursuits in Western Queensland.' from The Queenslander 18 Jul 1919 (nla.gov.au)

'FUNERAL NOTICES.

de Tournouer.- The Funeral of the late Comte de Tournouer, of Indooroopilly, will move from St. John's Cathedral, Brisbane, This (Monday) Morning, at 10.30 o'clock, to the Toowong Cemetery Service commences at 10.20 a.m.' from The Brisbane Courier 15 Jul 1929 (nla.gov.au)

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