The story of Paul Rene Loubet and his life in Australia reads more like fiction than real life, and researching it has been quite a challenge, albeit a fascinating one. This is the first ‘chapter’.

Annabel Illingworth married young doctor Percy Webber Black in London in March 1914. Dr Black worked as a locum in various English  towns, including Bexley, Leyton. Ipswitch and Southampton.


When war broke out,  Annabel’s new husband decided to enlist in the British Army Medical Corps.   There was just one problem.  He was asked to provide  proof of identity and was unable to do so. The doctor then confessed to his bride that he was French born and that his  real name was Paul Rene Loubet. He told her  they would have to re-marry to satisfy the military authorities.  The real Percy Webber Black was actually an Irish doctor whose identity Loubet had stolen. What explanation Loubet  gave his wife  for the deception at the time I have no idea, but it would  become clearer as time went on.

A second ceremony took place in August 1914. The ‘newlyweds’ then made a trip to Paris, where Annabel met her husband’s family. She described them as ‘very distinguished’.  Loubet’s father was also a doctor. There was an ulterior motive for Paul Loubet’s return to Paris, only revealed in Australia three years later.

When the couple returned to England there was more trouble surrounding the false name  Loubet had used. The following  information appeared later in New Zealand’s Ashburton Guardian and gives an indication of what had gone on back in early August and September 1914;

‘[Loubet] obtained a naval surgeon’s uniform at £13 from a West End firm, but failed to pay for it. Eight days afterwards he applied for a position as temporary surgeon in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and signed the application form ‘Percy Webber Black M.D.’ on September 11, and drew his army pay from that date to March 1915, when he was arrested in London. Charges against him were of fraudulently impersonating Dr Percy Webber Black, of obtaining by false pretenses army pay  to the amount of  £219 17s 10d, and a naval uniform, of giving a false certificate relating to a death, and of forging the certificate.

It was at this point  that Loubet  decided to escape his difficulties by  emigrating to Australia. During the voyage to Sydney Annabel gave birth to their first child, a little girl they called Yvonne Isabel.

The couple booked into the Wentworth Hotel and the young doctor immediately registered as a medical practitioner, still aiming to serve in the armed forces medical corps.


After  enlisting,  Captain Loubet became part of the No. 6 School of Instruction for Officers. The following photo was taken at the Sydney Show Grounds and  published in Australian Town & Country on November 11 1915. The Frenchman  was well built and among the tallest of the trainees, at over six foot.


The couple decided that as Paul would soon be going to the front, it would be best for Annabel to return to her family in England with their baby.

With his wife out of the picture the debonair Loubet began to enjoy life in Sydney as a single man. At the prestigious Hotel Australia he met a sophisticated, New Zealand born  widow called Connie Whitehouse (nee Forbes). Her late husband had also been a medical man. The pair began a passionate affair and suddenly the prospect of going off to war began to lose its appeal for Loubet.

On January 14  he and the widow Whitehouse were reported as being guests at Clark’s, a Hotel in Wollongong. They were  listed on the register as Captain and Mrs Loubet  (Illawarra Mercury).

Within two weeks Loubet had abandoned his officer training. The title of Captain had been replaced with Doctor and he embarked on a new path with his defacto wife;

Dr and Mrs Loubet will leave today by the Marsina for Papua.  (Sydney Morning Herald Jan 25 1916)

The lovers were headed for Samurai, one of the New Guinea Islands, with Loubet employed there as a Medical Officer. At the time Samurai was an important trading and administrative centre. There were press mentions of  Dr. Loubet playing tennis and attending dinners.


Dr Paul Loubet was a medical officer on Samurai in early 1916;

One of the commercial streets on Samurai in the early 20thC.

Their stay on  Samurai  was brief.  On April 7 1916 the Brisbane Telegraph reported that  Dr Loubet and Mrs Whitehouse had arrived in Brisbane aboard the ship Marsina, from Papua.  Loubet now found employment as Assistant Medical Officer at Queensland’s  Goodna mental asylum and Connie again assumed the role of his wife.

In August  a position was advertised as locum tenens in the  rural, far western  Queensland town of Blackall. Loubet  secured the job  with recommendations from a doctor at Goodna and another from Brisbane.  It must be remembered that doctors were in very short supply at the time, with so many serving overseas.

Blackall, where Paul Loubet was locum in September 1916

The main street of Blackall circa 1916

Blackall never seen the like of the charismatic French Doctor  and his  glamorous ‘wife’,  Madame Loubet. Locals were dazzled. Women suddenly found reasons to seek medical advice and  men trembled  in the presence of Madame, scarcely able to utter a word.

Outback Queensland was as foreign to the new doctor and Madame Loubet as the couple were to the residents of Blackall. It was to be a brief, but colourful sojourn for the couple. 😎

Meanwhile, Annabel Loubet had been corresponding regularly with her husband, blissfully  unaware of  his liaison with Connie Whitehouse. With  Paul no longer an army officer  preparing to serve in France she made arrangements to meet him in Sydney, baby Yvonne in tow.

























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