|Grave stone of Herbert Claxton, East Mudros Military Cemetery. Photo Jim Claven 2015|
One of the 148 graves on Lemnos contains the remains of a former pupil of South Yarra Primary School. His name is Herbert Frederick Claxton.
Herbert was born in nearby Prahran in April 1892. His brother wrote after the war that Herbert had attended the School and this would probably been for a few years around the turn of the century. He became a coach builder and then a munitions worker. By the time he enlisted on 11th May, Herbert had moved to Balmain in Sydney, NSW. Yet his family connections remained in Melbourne. On his enlistment form Herbert recorded his eldest brother Reginald as his next of kin and he was still in Melbourne, living in the nearby suburb of Richmond.
|Attestation Paper of Herbert Claxton. NAA|
He landed at Gallipoli and would take part in the battles raging on the peninsula. He was wounded at Gallipoli on 2nd September, after the terrible August Offensives. He had received wounds to his leg and scalp and was soon evacuated from Gallipoli.
Unfortunately he died while aboard the Hospital Ship Maheno. His body was taken to nearby Lemnos Island and buried in the expanding Allied military cemetery that had been established at East Mudros. Army Chaplain E Raymond conducted the burial service. He was only 23 years old.
The nearby suburbs of Prahran, Windsor and Richmond would become home to many new migrants from Greece after the Second World War, joining the earlier Hellenic migrants who had settled there already. Their children would attend local schools, like South Yarra Primary School. As a former Hawksburn Primary and Prahran Secondary School student myself I can attest to the vibrancy of the areas new Hellenic residents.
Most of these Hellenes – some even coming from Lemnos itself - would have been unaware that a former pupil of South Yarra Primary School had come to this Greek Island in the northern Aegean and was buried there, never to return to his family back in Melbourne.
The South Yarra Primary School community can be proud of its former pupil – Herbert Frederick Claxton – an Anzac buried on Lemnos.
Lest we forget.
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee