This is my mother, drawn by my father. Years ago, I took it out of his sketch book and had it framed, and now it sits beside my desk. I often focus on the round buttons and the round brooch on her dress.
The sketchbook dates from about 1942/43. This portrait is a very close likeness, as once observed by a visitor who saw the drawing and then a photo of Mum at about the same age.
It was a toss-up tonight between two photos that suited the theme of ‘ready’. One was of my father and his mates in the training camp, ready and waiting to be sent to the Middle East. And there was this one of an Egyptian kitchen hand bearing about 50 plates with more behind him, ready to serve all the extra patrons. His hands have a firm grip on his load…
Perhaps these people were waiting for their weekly challenge, too.
This is another photo from my father’s war album. It would have been taken in the winter of 1941. I researched the acronym he wrote next to Don Gray; AACS probably means Army Airways Communications System personnel.
Looks like a cold place to be waiting for something to happen…
I found this photo in the war album. I had to play with the levels because the words were barely visible in the original 2″ x 3″ photo, and I was amazed when I darkened it and saw what was written on this huge sign. It’s derived from Winston Churchill’s London broadcast on 22nd June 1941, following Germany’s invasion of Russia.
I don’t know where this building is, though it’s probably in north Africa. The album contains photos taken in 1941/42.
A few poems in the anthology are copies of other soldiers’ work. Several are written by girlfriends and wives left back in Australia. They always express hope that they’ll see their men again, as in these two verses:
The wedding of an Australian General Hospital sister, approx. 1941. The church is the Basilique Notre Dame d’Héliopolis, Cairo. I’ve written a little about the church here, and included a photo of the whole structure.
The nurse probably worked at the hospital in Kantara (also El Qantarah and several other spellings), Egypt, close to the Suez Canal. My father may have known her since he was a patient in this hospital, but he didn’t record her name.
A wedding in the middle of a war zone. A triumph of hope over reality.
In the album I found a few photos of Arabs snapped in the simplicity of their daily lives. This one really narrows it down: a shadeless desert, a man stopping to pray, a curious and patient camel. Bowing over his mat in prayer, the Arab blocks out the Allied soldier behind the camera lens, and the complications of war.
Like this week’s photo challenge, the following poem and its miniature illustration also have a peaceful theme. My father was in the Middle East in 1941 thinking about the sun rising in his home country. I give you the first of four stanzas.
This week, it really was a challenge to find a photo in the war album that suited a peaceful theme… I like this one of the sun rising behind the pyramids, though even this photo has a disturbing darkness.