Monday, 6 September 2010

Delving into military history and a sad story of two brothers

I stumbled across this sad story of two brothers, killed in action on the same day during the Australian North African campaign of World War Two.

Recently I attended an excellent family photo workshop at Wanneroo Public Library run by Julie Martin. I brought along some family photos taken by my uncle. They are a collection of photos of the Australian 9th Division during the North African campaign of World War Two. Julie was interested in the collection and also commented on the photo shown here that my uncle took in 1942. The photo is of the grave of two men with the same surname.

Thanks to all the online records available on the Australian Army World War Two Nominal Roll and the Australian War Memorial, I have been able to do some detective work and have pieced together a story that is more local than I expected. My uncle was from N.S.W., but the grave photo is of two Western Australian brothers. These two brothers were killed in action on the same day: 23 October 1942. The names are visible if you enlarge the photos, so I have been able to track down some records.

They were both Gunners in the 2/7 FD REGT RAA, so were probably killed during the battle of El Alamein. 23 October 1942 was the first day of the battle of El Alamein. The Allied victory at El Alamein was a critical turning point for the Allies in the North African campaign and for World War Two generally.

I just came across this photo, pieced together a likely story, but I have no experience in military history, so I am contacting a journalist to see if they wish to write up this story. Obviously effort would have to be made to contact possible relatives who may be out there. The terrible impact of this on the family can barely be imagined.

This photo is precious to me so please don’t use it without my permission. Thanks!