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Great Uncles

Today is Anzac Day when we remember Australians who served and died in all wars and this year is the commemoration of 100 years since World War 1.  So I thought I would honour the day by finding a WW 1 story from my family. This photo is of my grandfather Charles (at the front left) and his brothers, my great uncles Ray, Bob, Les, Jim and Joe.  You will notice the three at the back are in uniform.

My great grandparents Anne and Joseph married very young and over a span of 30 years had 15 children -- 8 boys and 7 girls. One died as a little boy. The rest of the family grew to adulthood, then war came.

In May 1915 23 year old John joined up.  He was soon followed by his big brother Bob who was getting on a bit at age 42.   And a month later Les who was just 18 went off to war too.
They were all sent to Egypt.

Bob was sent home from Egypt unfit for service a year later.  John and Les were transferred to fight in France.  Meanwhile, as soon as he turned 18, Ray joined up and was also sent to France. It must have been an anxious time with Bob not well and three youngest sons in the killing fields of France.

Bad news came just one month later - John was killed in action.

Les and Ray returned home safely in 1919 after spending time hospitalised in England.

So I guess the photo of my great uncles was taken sometime in 1919 when they were all back together except for John. I found John's photo at the War Memorial.


  1. Many sad but courageous stories from the wars Gemma.and so lovely to see the photo of your great-uncles. What a handsome bunch of guys.

  2. Sorry Joan I had the right person but I put the wrong name.

  3. Wonderful photo and poignant story, Joan. Very special.

  4. Thanks for sharing your WWI story, Joan.

  5. Great stuff! I like the challeng of working out who was whom: (Rear) Ray, Bob, Les; (Front) Charles, Jim, and Joe. Close?

    How good to find an image at the AWM. I searched through for one of my cousin, Sydney, who peerished at Helles, to no avail. But I know a lot about him.

    Thank you so much for this. To say I enjoyed it might be inappropriate, but I did.

    1. Yes you have the order right. I knew you would enjoy the post. I dug out the photo last night which has the names written on the back, then went to the War Memorial to find their personnel records to figure out their ages and sequence of dates. I only ever met one of these men Uncle Ray. My Grandfather died before I was born. Others may have been alive but Mum's family were in Victoria and we lived in Queensland - a long way in those days so visits were rare.

      Unlike some of my Queensland great uncles and aunts who we saw on a semi-regular basis for family funerals.


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