I’ve decided to respond to this week’s Sepia Saturday prompt with a photo of three men: one of my favourite photos of my grandfather (centre) and two of his brother’s in law.
This photo was taken in 1937, when they were celebrating the birth of my father, the first child among the three of them.
I love the sense of fun and happiness in this photo.
Little did they know that just a few years later these three men would go off to WWII and only two would survive.
From left to right:
Halley Edward HAWKINS (1910 – before 1997), known as Uncle Hal married my grandmother’s little sister Enid Laura FRANCIS (1913 – 1997) in April 1936. They didn’t have children until after the war. Uncle Hal enlisted in July 1940 and was discharged in October 1945 as a Lance Sergeant in the 2/8 Australian Infantry Battalion.
Keith Leo GRENFELL (1911 – 1944) my grandfather married my grandmother in February 1936. I’ve written about Gren before, here.
Keith was in the Citizen’s Military Forces (like the Army Reserves now I think) from about 1930 so was snapped up as a training sergeant into the army as WWII broke out. He had a series of illnesses and complications following an injury from a gun during a training exercise. I’m still wading through his extensive military and medical files trying to make sense and a timeline from them. He spent a lot of time in different army hospitals and rehabilitation centres. My dad can vaguely remember as a little boy catching the train up to the city to visit him in a ‘huge’ hospital. Keith died in their local hospital in Yallourn before his second son reached his first birthday.
Mervyn Collier FRANCIS (1918 – 2008), known as Uncle Jack, my grandmother’s little (or I should say younger as he was soooo tall) brother. I have written about Uncle Jack before, here. Uncle Jack enlisted in the AIF in January 1940 and was discharged in September 1941 before joining the RAAF (air force) in October 1941. He was a Warrant Officer at RAAF HQ in Washington, USA by the time he was discharged in March 1946. He had come home to marry in February 1944 just a month before Keith died.
And I’m pretty sure the following is the only photo in my collection with braces. It’s my dad (on the right) after he had been in his own wars: broken his neck falling off his bicycle. He is with his little brother (left), and their Uncle Jack (see above) who was like a second father to them. Uncle Jack died in 2008 and dad’s brother in 2009.