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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

My mystery photo pouch

Every now and again, I take out one of my favourite mystery packages, a small leatherette pouch full of (mostly) unnamed photographs, and browse through them, hoping I can solve another of its secrets within.

There are 147 photos in total, many quite faded, ranging in size from the largest, at 5½ by

3½ inches to the smallest, at 2 inches by 1½. Amongst them is this delightful picture of my grandmother’s cousin, Anna Helena Talbot, signed, Dearest love, Nellie. 9.3.1918, which was a few months before her marriage to Herbert Booth, a Lieutenant in the the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

Many of the photos feature Nellie in various locations – in a back garden (including one of her in her pyjamas!) or out and about in places such as Llandudno and Colwyn Bay, in North Wales.

On the back of many of the snaps are scribbled comments, along the lines of:

  • I wasn’t really cross. Blame the sun

  • This one is rather hopeless. It was rather a bad light and Mabel took a snap instead of time. (probably her sister Mabel)

  • Dorothy has left out the legs. What a pity! (A Dorothy is mentioned in a group photo of work colleagues.)

Mystery solider

Amongst the collection are several military snapshots – three of which look to have been taken in a desert location. One of the better quality is of a soldier sitting looking directly at the camera and I wondered if it was Nellie’s fiancé, as his regiment was stationed in the Middle East during WWI. But from the headgear and my limited knowledge of military uniform, it looks more likely this soldier is in the Royal Highland Fusiliers.

It occurred to me that the pouch might have belonged to my gran’s sister, my great aunt, Hilda Griffiths. She may have even made the pouch herself – she was very good at making that sort of thing – and if so, perhaps the photograph of the soldier was hers. That intrigues me, as the story goes that Hilda was once engaged but something happened and the couple never married.

I'd always believed that Hilda's fiancé had been killed in WWI and, heartbroken, she'd never found another love. But my theory to this romantic tale was dashed recently while reading my aunt’s family history account. It seems Hilda’s beau was a dentist and their relationship merely fizzled out.

Even so, that's not to say he wasn't a dentist who served with the Royal Highland Fusiliers! But without a name to go on, I don’t think, sadly, there’s much likelihood of me solving that particular mystery.


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