That Man in the Picture, Anzac Day 2015

Who was that young man in the picture, that handsome young soldier dressed in heavy khaki, and the little boy beside him, attired in his best blue and white sailor suit? Was the cherubic infant his brother or his son? Was the photo taken just before the young man left home for the Great War? He smiles at the camera, blue-eyed and smooth skinned, his strong chin handsomely cleft, a gentle gaze invoking innocence and expectation. Pride. Readiness to go and help the “Mother Country” in Gallipoli, France or in Flanders’ Fields.

I found the photograph of this man in an old wares shop in Quorn, South Australia, in the mid 1970s. It was sepia toned, taken in 1915, but I always saw the colours that weren’t there, the khaki, the bronzed badge, the bairn’s pink cheeks and blond curls. He used to gaze serenely from my wall, slouch hat shadowing his brow, and spoke to me in times of loneliness, restoring my balance with his ever-present calm.

Someone, perhaps his parents, paid dearly for that studio portrait and framing. Beautifully carded, simply framed in austere honeyed oak, worn shiny with time. Why was the portrait discarded? Did he die somewhere in that horrific war? Were his elders left, like so many country folk, to struggle against nature on those arid plains, sowing wheat and grazing sheep, without a son to assist them? Did his family line just disappear?

I think of that man often, I can still see his face. I am the keeper of his memory.

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My post last Anzac Day, 2014.    Commemorating Slaughter with a Biscuit.   https://almostitalian.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/anzac-day-2014-commemorating-slaughter-with-a-biscuit/

17 thoughts on “That Man in the Picture, Anzac Day 2015”

  1. Tears on this one – beautifully put, and I feel the same way at many of the old photos. I feel similarly moved when I see images of now-old men, full of never-to-be-understood wonder and sadness at what they have known, faced and endured. Thank you x

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  2. So touching. I am a Kiwi in Japan but have been thinking about the Dawn Services and the fallen Anzacs this weekend as friends, colleagues and family have taken time to pay their respects at home and from countries afar. You said “Someone, perhaps his parents, paid dearly for that studio portrait …” and like you I wonder if they did pay dearly, with the life of their beloved son. Thank you for sharing these sentiments and honouring one of the many unknown soliders. Lest we forget.

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  3. It is lovely that you still remember him, even after he, and the photo are gone. Beautiful description of the photo and what it meant to you, and still means. Photos have such tremendous power. Perhaps we should say ‘their images liveth forever more’. xx

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  4. Lest we forget. Beautiful, heartfelt post. It’s wonderful you gave the photo a home for the years you had it, and keep it still in your memory. I feel sad when I see old photos in op shops etc. Someone would have treasured them once.
    On ANZAC Day I think of them all: past, present, known, unknown. We go to both dawn service and the march. It’s the least we can do.

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