Harold was heading into one of the most horrific battlefields of WWI, the Third Battle of Ypres, or as it has become known Passchendaele.
Born on 21 June 1894, Harold enlisted in the AIF on 15 Oct 1915, married Beryl Hobson 21 Oct 1916, and less than 4 weeks later embarked from Sydney on SS Port Napier 17 Nov 1916. Harold was 22 years old. He was my maternal grandfather.
This locket was found among my mother’s belongings after her death in 1999. Not knowing who it was, I showed my uncle, Bruce Lilja, and he said to me “that’s your grandfather”. Uncle Bruce proudly told me that the purple over green represented Harold’s 34th battalion colours.
The locket is my WWI memento and is the only image I have of my grandfather Harold. He and my grandmother separated around 1930 and she destroyed any photographs of him. The painted portrait shows Harold in his WWI uniform and I assume he had it made during the war to send home to his young bride.
Meanwhile, in Perth, Scotland young John MITCHELL, born 12 May 1898, enlisted and was sent to serve in France. John was my paternal grandfather. He died when I was only two. At present I know very little of his WWI service.
From 29 January 2017 I will post one photograph every week for a year to mark the centenary of Harold's journey into war. This photographic project is dedicated to the memory of my grandfathers and their service.
I am collecting portraits of people with mementoes from their relatives who served in WWI. Please contact me if you would like to take part.