A Soldier’s Farewell to his Girl

Sepia Saturday’s them for the week  – trains, trams, transport.  But  if  I say trains and transport then the next word is troops.

I prefer to use images from the family albums but this time I am going with my favorite photo from the State Library of Victoria.   It is listed as being from the Melbourne newspaper of the time, the Argus on August 14th, 1940.  However it does not appear in the paper. but  is one of a collection which came from the paper.  Why ever wasn’t it used.  Every photo tells a story and this photo tells a very powerful story.

The unanswered question is – Who are these two central people ?

14th August 1940

14th August 1940

Is she his wife,  fiancee, girl friend ?  Was this an embarkation leave farewell?  Troops were still being sent to the Middle East .  Did he come back safely or was he killed at Tobruk like the driver of the bread van in my home town ?

In this second photo  you can again see her on the shoulder of some strong person.

Aug 14th 1940

Aug 14th 1940

Another time we see the soldiers marching down platform 10A at Spencer St Station  in 1944,  the engine for their train waiting t in the background.

Platform 10A, Spencer St. 1944


Then in 2012  Toni Jordan published her novel Nine Days which was inspired by the kiss photo.  She put her imagination to work to give a story going both back to the past and forward  to the future.  It is so believable and particularly enjoyable to anyone who enjoys their inner Melbourne suburbs and the idea of life as it was,  in this case  inner-city Richmond.

Nine Days by Toni JordanThe photo, with the help of a bit of colour, was used for the cover of the book.

How the novel came about, The Age, Aug 19th, 2012

Review of Nine Days by Toni Jordan in the Age, August 26th, 2012

And a bit of trivia for the young-uns as to those beautiful marcel waves in the first photo.  These days with all the electric wands for straightening and curling you might not know that in the 1930s when these marcel waves were popular, to make them at home you used these torturous butterfly metal grips with sharp teeth which pinched the damp hair together into ridges.  When dry the hair would comb out into waves.

Marcel Waves

Making Marcel Waves

 Go to Sepia Saturday to read more stories of earth-bound transport of every imaginable kind.

Sepia Saturday



10 thoughts on “A Soldier’s Farewell to his Girl

  1. La Nightingail

    My Mom had those clips. When I was in my teens I found them in the bottom of her makeup case and used them in my own hair, which was long, to make it wavy. Worked like a charm!


  2. Lorraine

    The second photo is interesting. There’s a man with outstretched arms and the lady in the dark dress seems to be moving towards him. There’s a mum, with her baby, maintaining fingertip contact with her man. At the back there’s a soldier pointing. The train seems to be against a rock wall which has me wondering where it is.
    I enjoyed reading Jordon’s book based on the first photo – I like the idea of basing a novel on a real photo.


  3. Mike Brubaker

    This was a great photo to introduce to a wider audience. The second photo reveals how far the camera was from the train, which makes the first photo a good demonstration on how cropping an image can add intensity. I’ll have to look for the book now.


  4. jofeath

    I’ve just reserved that book at my local library. You do seem to have a thing about those Marcel waves. It’s interesting to see how they were formed, but I would have no need of those clips!


    1. jofeath

      Postscript: read the book and really enjoyed the story, thanks for recommending it! By the way, the photo on the cover of the edition I borrowed was not colourised.


  5. Little Nell

    I do hope she wasn’t working her way along the carriages, kissing all the soldiers – then again, why not? Seriously though, these are great photos and the idea that one inspired a book is heartening for we Sepians don’t you think?



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