Wartime 44 - Can you help
Who? What? Where? When?
Throughout 1940 and 1941, propaganda photographs taken in the Middle East by Department of Information (DOI) photographer George Silk regularly depicted smiling Australian servicemen. Silk took this photograph in Alexandria in June 1941, soon after the evacuation of 15,000 Allied troops from Crete.
The original DOI caption provided with the photograph emphasised the humility and valour of the ANZAC, who, “tired and war-stained after many days of continuous fighting … could still wear a smile when they arrived at Alexandria”. Even after having survived a sustained German air attack, the three unnamed men seen here were “as game as Ned Kelly”.
First published in metropolitan Australian newspapers, this photograph also featured in an AIF recruitment poster that was widely circulated during the Second World War. The faces of the three soldiers became familiar to many Australians at home, coming to represent a typical image of spirited “diggers” in the Middle East. But despite the popularity and persuasiveness of Silk’s photograph, the names of the three men remain unknown.
Where possible, curators in the Photographs section attempt to put names to faces for images in the collection. We encourage veterans, family members and other interested readers and researchers to help us identify these three men.
Sarah Cowan is an Assistant Curator in the Photographs section at the Memorial. If you can identify any of the men in these photographs, please contact her on (02) 6243 4577 or email email@example.com