This photo is among my favourites in my Great Great Uncle Norman’s wallet that he kept during his service in World War One. On the back of it, there is a fair amount of writing:
This postcard was particularly difficult to transcribe, as you can see! (If anyone can make out any of those illegible words, feel free to comment to fill in the blanks!) Annie is Uncle Norman’s sister in law, married to Norman’s eldest brother Cecil, who also served in World War One. Alfie is Annie and Cecil’s son and second child. Born Alfred Edmund Leslie Way in 1911, Alfie is mentioned here and there in letters exchanged between both Norman, Cecil and their family members. He seemed to be the most interested young member of the family with regard to what his father and Uncles were doing in the war effort. We have to remember the media here were sugar coating what was occurring overseas and to a young boy like Alfie, it would have certainly seemed like his Father and Uncles were on one big adventure!
I just hate to think how quickly that notion would have turned around for a child of his age, to see his Dad come home with one leg…and to lose two of his Uncles in the year or so following his Dad’s return, one to the War and the other in an awful accident. This generation would have had to have grown up quickly. These were the realities of the early 1900s. Innocence just wasn’t a long lived concept for children of this time.
Curious about the cute little boy in this photograph, I’ve looked into Alfred a bit further. He went on to marry Grace Hammond in 1945 in Canterbury (my Nana, Alfred’s 1st cousin, would have only been a toddler at this stage! The age gaps are insane!) and from the looks, little Alfie actually joined the Royal Australian Air Force and served in World War II. I am not sure of the details of his involvement at this stage, but have located his service records on the National Archives of Australia website. Their status for digital release at this stage is set at: “Not Yet Examined”, so I will wait patiently. How terrifying for his mother Annie, who at that stage was still living. Her husband Cecil came back from World War One seriously wounded, then she had to see her only son off to World War Two. This would have been a feeling many families were faced with.