Leeds nostalgia: First World War Leeds picture appeal

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A web-based project aimed at gathering information about the families of First World War children has posted a number of images showing people from Leeds.

The Army Children of the First World War project aims to become an online repository of knowledge for stories associated with the descendents of soldiers who served from 1914-1918.

One of the images, pictured, was taken at a Leeds photography studio. It shows a family of four. Informtion written on the back reads: ‘FRED, 15, New Briggate, Leeds / and 72 [?], Horton Lane, Bradford.’ There is also a handwritten name and address: ‘D Nunwick [?] / 230 Manningham Lane’ [Bradford].’

Clare Gibson, from the project, which is being led by the Imperial War Museum, said: “On checking the FreeBMD website [freebmd.rootsweb.com], there was a marriage between a Thomas Clifford Nunwick and Daisy Jones listed as having taken place in the June quarter of 1910 in Bradford. The website also has a record of the birth of Elsie Nunwick, whose mother’s surname was Jones, as having been registered in the September quarter of 1911. It is possible that these are the parents and their daughter is pictured here. There are no badges visible on the soldier–father’s uniform to tell us anything about the unit in which he served.”

She explained more about the project: “Earlier this year, we launched our ‘The Army Children of the First World War’ project as our contribution to the First World War Centenary Partnership’s programme to inspire young and old to connect with the lives, stories and impact of the First World War.

“During the First World War, an enormous number of British children became ‘temporary’ army children when their civilian fathers joined the British Army as volunteers or conscripts. A significant proportion of British families today will count such children among their ancestors, but may not appreciate fully how having a soldier–father affected the lives – psychologically, as well as practically – of their descendents.

“Having a father who is a peacetime soldier colours a childhood, as many an army child would confirm. So having a soldier–father when one’s childhood coincides with a world war and a period of national crisis cannot fail to have an impact, from the daily sadness of missing an absent parent through the euphoric joy of reunion, however fleeting, to the trauma inflicted by a father’s injury or death.

“TACA collects, preserves and shares online information about the history of British army children and the challenges and peculiarities of growing up as the child of a regular soldier in the British Army, from the seventeenth century to today. Because the wartime experiences of the children of volunteer and conscript soldiers essentially mirrored those of the children of regular soldiers from 1914 to 1918, TACA is in a unique position to provide a deeper understanding of what they went through. Drawing on the wealth of material that it has gathered, TACA additionally encourages consideration of the many ways in which the war affected these young non-combatants.”

One of the latest additions to the website - www.flickr.com/photos/armychildrenarchive - is a postcard produced by a photographic company based in New Wortley, Leeds.

‘God bless our soldiers & sailors. Amen’ is the legend printed above the photograph of a small kneeling child, hands held together in prayer and resting on a chair, that appears on the front of this postcard. The words: ‘Copyright and proceeds from sale of these cards, for Telegraph” soldiers & sailors’ Parcel Convoy Fund’ have also been printed on the front of the postcard.

Stamped on the back is the name and address of a photographic company: ‘Crown Photo Co. 30 Copley Hill, New Wortley, Leeds’. A childish hand has also written in pencil: ‘Our Blanche / My Love / & Ar [?].’

Clare added: “We would love to find out information about these pictures, so if anyone out there recognises the people in them, please get in touch.”

She added: “We aim to create an instantly accessible entry point for people of all ages and nationalities to learn more about how the hostilities affected the children of fighting men, to visually document an important facet of the First World War as viewed from the social-history perspective and to highlights the human cost to those on the home front, thereby deepening and enriching the nation’s store of historical knowledge.”

The Army Children of the First World War archive: www.archhistory.co.uk