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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

The power of an image

I’m excited to be able to share with you a wonderful photograph of The Booth family – the family into which my gran’s cousin, “Nellie” (Anna Helena) Talbot married in 1918.

As you’ll know if you’ve read my blog over the past couple of weeks, my research into the Booth family was prompted by my attempts to identify an unnamed photo of a WWI soldier. This led to the discovery of a fascinating story of 10 siblings, including 8 brothers, 7 of whom served in WWI, 3 of them losing their lives.

(You can read Charles’ story in Mystery and Death and a little about Frank, in Unravelling the Booth Brothers Mystery).

I’ve been thrilled to make contact with descendants of the family pictured above, who have kindly given me permission to share this fabulous photograph here on the blog.


The photo was taken around the time of what would prove to be a major upheaval for the family. Eldest son, Edwin, would shortly emigrate to Canada, followed by his younger brothers, John (Jack) and Arthur, in the years following.

Edwin is pictured above, seated on the right, beside his mother, Florence. His father, Charles Edwin Booth, is absent, having died a couple of years previously, in 1904. Charles senior was a chemist and after his death, Florence continued with the business. It would be Herbert – my link to the family – sitting far left, who would take on that mantle in the following years, having qualified as a pharmacist.

WWI intervenes

In 1907 Edwin (known as Ted) headed across the Atlantic to Canada. His occupation on his immigration papers is recorded as farm labourer. Soon he was joined by Jack and, a few years later, by Arthur. But before long the outbreak of the First World War intervened and the men joined up with the Canadian Mountain Rifles regiment.

The Canadian Expeditionary forces were sent to Europe and Ted found himself on the Belgium France border, near Ypres. On June 2nd 1916, the German army carried out a devastating attack on the Canadian trenches, causing a terrifying level of casualties in what would become known as the Battle of Mont Sorrel.

It seems likely that Ted was killed on that day, though his death is recorded as being on 5th June.

It's possible that the enormity of casualty numbers at the time overwhelmed those charged with recording the necessary details.

His military record notes: Presumed dead 5-6-16. Previously for official purposes presumed to have died on or after 5-6-16 now killed in action on this date.

Edwin Booth is buried at Ypres Reservoir Cemetery. His headstone reads: HE DIED THAT WE MIGHT LIVE


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