Sunday, 19 March 2017

A final family portrait

I bought this postcard of a Gordon Highlander and his family the other week. Unfortunately, there is nothing on the card to identify who the soldier and his family are, but his name will undoubtedly appear in Commonwealth War Graves records somewhere, and probably on Soldiers Died in The Great War. His wife probably received a widow's pension, and there is probably a record recording both the husband's and wife's name in the Soldiers' Effects Register.

Because the sad fact of the matter is that this is a sitting assembled after death. It doesn't require much close examination to see that the sitters have all been cut and pasted into a family grouping. The little girl on the right may have originally appeared in a solo portrait, and her father's photo may have been taken in a studio close to where he was camped or billeted in the UK; it could even have been taken in France and posted back home. In a pre-digital age it would have been difficult to get the perspective right, which is why the soldier appears, ironically, a little larger than life.

This photo, quite possibly, was the only group photo that ever existed of this family. Depending on when the father was sent overseas and when he was killed, the infant on his wife's lap may have never seen her father - and he may never have seen his bairn. All the more reason then to re-construct a family sitting, and a reminder for the children in years to come that their father had been a soldier, and died for his King and Country.

I research soldiers! 
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