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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

From one mystery to more

Sometimes in family history a simple trail can explode in all directions, creating a myriad of new lines of enquiry. Which is what happened to me while writing this post about trying to identify my mystery soldier, whom I mentioned in Mystery Photo Pouch blog post a couple of weeks ago.

As you’ll know if you’ve read the post, I found the photograph amongst a bundle of others, probably sent to my great aunt, by her cousin, Anna Helena Talbot, known as Nellie.

The soldier’s cap, with its distinctive checked design, suggested he could be a member of the Royal Highland Fusiliers but as I’m no military guru, I’ve posted the photo in a Facebook group run by experts in this field and look forward to hearing their comments.

Mystery solved?

While waiting, I did some more digging and became very excited when I thought I’d found a possible candidate for my mystery soldier.

Nellie’s fiancé, Herbert Booth, had a brother called Frank and I discovered a military record for a Frank Booth, matching his DOB, whose service document (transcript only) stated his regiment as R. Fus.

My initial thought was that this referred to The Royal Highland Fusiliers, or possibly another Scottish regiment I’d since discovered existed at the time of WWIThe Royal Scottish Fusiliers (the two regiments, the Highland and the Scottish, merged in 1959) but apparently there was a City of London regiment which was named simply, the Royal Fusiliers. So perhaps that is the more likely match.

A Canadian connection

However, during my trawl, I also came across mention of The Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada. Now that immediately rang a bell, as I was sure I'd seen a Canadian connection to one of Herbert’s brothers.

I logged into Ancestry and checked it out. Yes - the death of Arthur Booth, Herbert's older brother, had been recorded in Canada in 1941. Had Arthur emigrated prior to WWI and then served with the Canadian forces?

As I glanced down the list of Herbert’s other siblings (he had no less than six brothers and two sisters) I noticed that two of his brothers, Charles and Edwin, had died during WWI, and that Edwin’s military records were identified as CEFCanadian Expeditionary Forces.

I realised, as my brain tried to put all this into context, that everything needed a lot more investigation than I was going to have time to do for this post! So I’ll have to get back to you when I’ve managed to unpick all the pieces.

Meanwhile, what do you make of these bizarre photos of soldiers, also in the mystery bundle?

As you can see, the left-hand image is badly damaged (crudely repaired with a piece of gummed tape stuck on the back) and in the other, although it's difficult to make out, one of the soldiers pictured (the chap on the far left, wouldn't you say?) appears to have got hold of someone by their hair!

Who are they? What’s going on? Yet more questions!



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