"Each has his own tree of ancestors, but at the top of all sits Probably Arboreal." - Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

From looking at old photographs: 2. Dad’s Army?

Continuing the military theme of part 1, among the photographs from my dad’s side of the family is a rather rag-tag-looking group of a dozen or so men in military uniform. The only information given is a date: 1939.
When I asked my dad if he knew what the connection was, he had no idea, but on closer inspection he remarked that to him they looked more like home guard. Certainly the uniforms look incomplete, except that most of their hats match up, and they’re certainly not dressed to military standards. Also, my dad pointed out that there were some older men in the photograph, whom you wouldn’t necessarily expect to have been the first to be going off to war – not ancient, but certainly in their late thirties and early forties at least. However, there were also some much younger men mixed in amongst them. Unfortunately research quickly informed me that the Home Guard weren’t actually formed until 1940, so that rules that out. I suspect that this is an off-duty photograph, and so that explains the slightly unruly state of dress!
After much studying of this and other photographs with a magnifying glass, I think that the man front and centre of the photograph is my great grandfather, the formerly enigmatic Walter Newby. Though most of the other photographs we have of him are taken from a greater distance, and when he was much older, I can see a similarity particularly in his quite prominent chin, which has a deep horizontal line across it. My father never knew his grandfather, who died relatively young, so he’s only ever seen him in photographs. However, the entire family agreed that there was a resemblance between this man and others of Walter. (Though perhaps that was just to stop me thrusting the magnifying glass at them and asking questions!)
As I noted in my post V is for Victory, Walter would have been thirty-five when war broke out and therefore was likely to have seen active service. I’d say that was consistent with the age of the man in the photograph as well. His marriage certificate tells us that he was a motor driver before the war, and so perhaps he continued to work as a military driver as well?
I need to have a hunt around Ancestry’s military records for clues about Walter’s time in the military, methinks!
L x

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