Can you help identify men who fought in WW1 in the AIF 2nd Regiment, 2nd Battalion?

+11 votes
I recently found some old family photographs including this partially damaged one of my grandfathers regiment, part of the WW1 Australian Infantry.  The 2nd Battalion served in Eygpt, Gallipoli and France.

I am hoping we can identify more of the people in the photo and link them to Wikitree in time for the 100th anniversary in April 2015.
in Requests for Project Volunteers by Veronica Williams G2G6 Pilot (147k points)

I'm of no use naming the people but I would suggest that if you know what unit it is you might be able to find where that unit's memorobilia is kept; units that still exist often hold much of ther history in unit museums, affiliated churches, messes, etc., and those units that have been retired from the order of battle usually have their collections make their way to museums and archives or get handed over to the units they are replaced by or amalgamated with - or even to sister units.

You might then be able to find a copy of the same unit photo (which, assuming it is the same format as most unit photos from WWI I have seen, you have less than half of) that may be labelled with at least a specific country, a month/year, and possibly the specific Company. (I am guessing from the number of people and my thought that the photo is only half there that this is a Company photo)

Thanks Ron.  It is an Australian unit.  The photo would have been taken between 1914-1919.  I'm not sure we have the type of unit museum to which you refer, but I did appproach our national archives for a copy of the same photo, but it doesn't seem to exist there.  I could search the WWI list for all the names but I think it might be a cumbersome exercise but I will have a look.  Even if I could list the names we might then be able to get some matching going on between the list and wikitree profiles.
Veronica, From the AWM site, you can get the list of those who were in the same regiment, and same re-inforcement.  Often those that were sent over together were closer than those already in the unit they joined.  

Embarkation rolls show who was sent in the same reinforcements:

3 Answers

+3 votes
I skimmed the bio for Edward Roberts and noted it says he was discharged in 1917 so we can probably narrow the window of when the photo was taken by two years, I also believe Roberts was part of the Battalion;s 2nd Replacements. I have glanced at the available War Diaries of the 2nd BN through to May 1916 and seen no mention of unit photos so far.

Perhaps the photos were taken around the time HRH Prince of Wales inspected the battalion in early 1916 after they had been rotated of the front lines and were preparing to head to France.
by Rob Ton G2G6 Pilot (275k points)
Thanks Ron.  It looks a bit like the area near La Perouse in Sydney but if that were the case it would be early on in the war, but my grandfather looks older in this photo than upon enlistment.  He actually sailed back to Australia on 2nd Dec 1916, so that narrows it down further.  Where did the Prince inspect the troops?

"Serapeum East, [Egypt,]  19/3/16 1000, Inspection of Lines & Troops by H.R.H. Prince of Wales, [&] Gen Birdwood" Ref:

The 2nd Battalion spent a few months in Egypt by the looks of the war diary.

There is a different group photograph of  A company, 2nd Battalion AIF from the Australian War Memorial collection at this link

I guess it could be anywhere, but the terrain, particularly in the background, looks very similar to the photograph you have Veronica.
John, I agree that the background looks similar and I was leaning towards the photo having been taken before embarkation, except for Veronica's comment about her grandfather looking older, suggesting a later date. After the battalion deployed the next occasion where I could see a photo op being scheduled would be in Egypt from about December 1915 to March 1916. The war diary of Jan 1916 is not available so that is a gap in our knowledge of the units activities; the inspection by H.R.H. is an occasion where I could see photos being taken and not mentioned as they were a 'minor activity' relative to the inspection.
The background does look very similar.  According to my grandfathers war record he was back with his unit in Gallipoli on 16 Jan 1916 after being in hospital in Eygpt and England.  The next entry has him in France by 28 Mar 1916.  I suppose they might have gone via Eygpt?  Thanks to both of you for your help on this.

In case you were wondering why I was leaning towards this photo as being pre-embarkation, I don't know... it might be the fact that none of the people visible appear to have any rank or insignia on their tunics (AFAIK collar badges were not issued until a month of training had been completed)... or the fact that the photo is too posed like graduates from recruit training (the rifles all slanting inwards)... or that the uniforms are too uniform (except those two soliders whose collar are unbuttoned) like they just came from stores - the pockets not yet stretched out from cramming things into them... Or maybe it is just my (albeit rusty) sergeant-sense tingling, but the soldiers in your photo just have an aura of 'shiny' and new - not like veterans of anything.

As to my comment on the lack of insignia - coloured patches started being issued in Mar 1915, and before that (from about September 1914) metal numbers would have been worn on the shoulder straps - I see neither on the uniforms pictured suggesting that the photo was taken before Roberts embarked in Feb 1915.

Also in reading the narrative for E.A. Roberts, I noticed a few details that I believe are slightly varied from the records: for example "Edward sailed from Devonport England, on 'Oriana" on 15 JAN 1915 to Alexandria, Egypt." - that event occurred in 1916 when he was returning from King George Hospital in England.

He appears to have embarked for the Gallipoli campaign on the Defflinger (aka SS Huntsgreen) and while the date is difficult to read on the Casualty Form, the letter on his service file dated 28 Sep 1949, gives his embrakation date as 11 Feb 1915. Similarly I read his initial transfer to the Stretch Bearer Section as dated 8 April 1915 (vice 3 April)

Yes from my limited experience, they don't look like they have seen action.  Perhaps Edward Roberts looks older because of the hat and uniform?  Or maybe the studio portrait was retouched in some way to make him look younger?

Another slight error in the narrative compared to the records, is the fact that he rejoined his unit at Tel el Kebir (p. 8 of 42) not at Gallipoli which had been abandoned by then.  There is a little bit of information about Tel el Kebir in this Wikipedia article
Thanks for the comments, I will fix up the errors in the bio.  I must admit the bio was updated from my FTM file where the records were transcribed many years ago now from old photocopies I had.  I know it is all online now and I should recheck all the info.  In terms of how Edward looks I am comparing the on enlistment photo and the group shot, is that the same one you are comapring John?  The studio portrait which is the main photo we believe was taken after the war around the time of his first marriage in 1917.
+3 votes

Hi Veronica

Why not contact the Australian War Memorial? It has a recent blog post Two of Sydney’s sons identified about identifying the people in a photo?

by Maryann Hurt G2G6 Mach 8 (84.3k points)
Thanks Maryann, I did contact them originally and they weren't too receptive about my request.
+2 votes
My great-uncle served in the AIF 2nd Battalion in WW1 in France however, I do not know what regiment.   Also, I have never seen a photo of him so can identify him only by name which was:  Richard Neil  Dickson.    He was born in New Zealand in 1896 or 1897.  His family then moved to Australia - to the country town of Quambone, New South Wales.   Richard enlisted in New South Wales (Dubbo, I think) in 1916.

He died of wounds in France on 26 June 1918.

I would be very pleased if anyone might have further information or a photograph.

Many thanks.
by Isabella Dickson G2G Rookie (260 points)

All the World War I Service records have been digitised by the National Archives of Australia, so you can search for his name here

If you haven't used this before, it's easiest to enter the surname and change the category of records to World War I and click on Search.  Then once you get the results of that search there is an option to Refine this search result, and you can then enter his first name.

There is quite a large record there, but a lot of it seems to be in triplicate (no photographs unfortunately)

I did have a look for his birth in the New Zealand BDM Online, but couldn't find anything, but if you haven't looked there before, it might be worth trying a few different variations on his surname.


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