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Recently, I was able to obtain an image of a page from my grandmother's 1917 autograph book.

Her name was Gwenyth Jean Stacy (born 16 Dec 1902 at St Peters, Adelaide, South Australia) and at the time she was living with her parents and sisters at Henley Beach which is now a suburb of Adelaide, South Australia.

The date of 9 Jul 1917 is written with names next to three of the photos but I do not know whether that was the date they were taken on.

enter image description here

I have been able to identify the named female as Lorna (or Loran) Wallace Linklater (born 18 Jul 1901 at Semaphore, Port Adelaide, South Australia) and have since contacted a distant relative of hers via Ancestry.com and emailed a copy of Lorna's photograph to her.

At this stage I am not attempting to identify the second female photo because it is unnamed. It does not appear to be my grandmother, either of her sisters who were eight and eleven years younger than her, or my great grandmother (Louisa Margaret nee Sellers), and its placement on this page suggests that she was a friend rather than relative of my grandmother.

However, I am very hopeful of being able to identify the two soldiers: the one named Williams in this question; and the other in Identifying Australian soldier named Bennett in World War I photograph (1917)?

He appears to be named Les or Leo A. Williams.

Can anyone help me with reading the handwriting and identifying him?

I will then try to contact his family and provide them with an image of his photograph. Unfortunately his surname is very common, and although his second initial appears to be A I think his first name may be Leo or Les. I am more than happy to share the pleasure of discovering who he was with anyone keen to look at Australian military records.

Some places that I have looked but that are worth revisiting are:

One last piece of background, that may be relevant to this page, is that my late mother told me that my great grandmother held parties for Australian soldiers. I do not know (and wish I had checked) whether it was this great grandmother of mine, or my mother's other grandmother, but I now suspect that it was this one.

enter image description here

  • Consider Leslie Alick Williams. Born in Goodwood, SA according to his service record on Ancestry. Birth record in 1890 suggests age 27 in 1917 which looks about right for the photo – Harry Vervet Nov 8 '15 at 1:57
  • Also - a high res scan of the soldiers may help. There might be something in the photos that (to an expert - not me) could hint at rank or regiment – Harry Vervet Nov 8 '15 at 2:14
  • Thanks @vervet I think that is the best candidate so far. I'll extract and rotate the photos at high resolution - the one I did for Lorna came out great even though they are only 2.0 x 2.7 cm in size. If you or anyone starts an answer here perhaps only do so for the Les/Leo Williams photo, and I'll create a second question for the Bennett one. – PolyGeo Nov 8 '15 at 2:19
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Using a NameSearch at the National Archives of Australia there seem to be three World War I soldiers who might be named Les or Leo A. Williams:

  • Williams, Arthur Leslie : SERN 22845 : POB Sydney NSW : POE Sydney NSW : NOK F Williams A who embarked from Sydney on 11 May 1916; was aged 23 years 2 months when he enlisted 11 Jan 1916 so born about Nov 1892; from page 7 of 22 in his service record it appears that on 9 Jul 1917 he was a driver in England
  • Williams, Augustine/Augustus Leo : SERN 5237 : POB Echuca VIC : POE Melbourne VIC : NOK F Williams William John who embarked from Melbourne on 1 Apr 1916; was aged 21 years 5 months when he enlisted 18 Jan 1916 so born about Aug 1894; from page 5 of 76 in his service record it appears that on 9 Jul 1917 he was in France; from page 7 of 76 he was killed in action on 23 Aug 1918 in France.
  • Williams Leslie Alick : SERN 2952 : POB Goodwood SA : POE Adelaide SA : NOK F Williams Alexander who embarked from Adelaide on 24 Aug 1916. From pages 15 & 19 of 26 in his service record it appears that on 9 Jul 1917 he was in hospital at Abassia (neighbourhood of Cairo), Egypt.

In the above: SERN = Serial Number, POB = Place of Birth, POE = Place of Embarkation, NOK = Next of Kin

Two more possibilities were found in the First World War Embarkation Rolls of the Australian War Memorial:

If only one of the five candidates appears to not be on overseas duties on 9 Jul 1917 then that would appear to be the best candidate. If that candidate also comes from South Australia, then that would seem to strengthen his candidature at least a little. Each war record has many pages so for now I am just listing them here.

If it appears that none of them are likely to have been in Australia on 9 Jul 1917, and in any event, I should consider the possibility that the soldiers are friends who went to war or perhaps are pen pals acquired during the war.


I directed Faithe Jones who hosts the World War 1 Pictorial Honour Rolls of Australians to this Q&A and she suggested Leslie Alick Williams (one of my candidates) but does not have a photo of him to compare.

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