Posted 12 months ago
The word Tommy has cropped up a couple of times recently and here it has a different meaning appropriate to today's public holiday here in Australia and New Zealand.
April 25 is ANZAC DAY.
A day of remembrance, ANZAC DAY is probably the most important national occasion for both Australia and New Zealand.
Originally 25 April every year was to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Anzac Day is also observed in the Cook Islands, Niue, Pitcairn Islands, and Tonga. These days it has a broader significance and commemorates all those who have served their country in conflict since Gallipoli.
The card I found among the other PC' s in the Maude Lankester collection is actually one of three that she kept from the Daily Mail series. These were a series of cards that were bought by soldiers' families eager to search through the numerous images of troops at war in the hope they might see their loved ones pictured on the cards.
The photographer is thought to be stills-photographer Ernest Brooks, a well-known 'society' photographer; who had worked for the Daily Mirror and the Graphic prior to the Great War. He went to the Somme in May 1916, after having worked for the Admiralty "covering the Gallipoli operation from H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth."
"Also known as The Daily Mail Battle Pictures the collection numbered 176 cards (in 22 series of 8 cards each) and was based on 105 photographs taken by members of the small band of official photographers that were located on the Western Front. Most of the cards depicted scenes and incidents from the Battle of the Somme 1916. (The 'battle' was not a continuous one, but rather a series of battles and actions that raged from July until November).
The cards were produced in three 'finishes' or formats, colour, silver-print and photogravure. Some of the images were in one format, some in two and a few in all three. "
Postcard, 'Official War Photographs', Daily Mail, England, 1916
Production date: 1916
Height: 90 mm or 3.5"
Width: 139 mm or 5.5"
One of my Mum's uncles Myles O'Reilly DCM died on 4 October 1917 at the Battle of Brootseinde. He was one of 6,500 Australians casualties that day in Belgium.
He had served at Gallipoli earlier on as well with his brother Charles. I had met Charles (or Uncle Charlie) when I was three years old and only have a vague memory of him. He drifted away from his family here in Sydney and nothing more was heard from him after 1953. I knew nothing about his service until last week while researching this card for ANZAC DAY. It's a long story that as yet I don't fully understand but I am determined to find out more about Myles and Charlie.
I've added a picture of Myles that we have in the family archive.