b. unknown — d. unknown
(presumed) Australia

This portrait features an unidentified member of the first Australian Imperial Force (AIF), the main expeditionary force of the Australian Army during World War One. As a British dominion, Australia officially joined the war alongside Britain, France and Russia as soon as it was declared on the 4th of August 1914.

This group of nations become known as the Allies or the Entente powers who opposed a group called the Central Powers, comprising of Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire, though other countries joined both sides of the conflict later. The AIF was the first unit amassed for overseas service in Australia, initially deployed to defend the Suez Canal in Egypt, an artificial waterway that joins the North Atlantic with the Indian Ocean before they were moved to Gallipoli (in modern Turkey) to fight Ottoman forces. The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (or ANZAC) were formed and this group fought alongside British and French troops with the intention of securing the Turkish Straits, including two strategically important waterways, the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus.

Securing these would not only weaken Ottoman forces but open up a supply route to Russia, greatly strengthening the Allies’ position. After eight months of fighting and substantial losses on each side, the Entente powers eventually retreated, something that was lauded as a great Ottoman victory and considered a terrible defeat for the Allies. For Australia and New Zealand the Gallipoli landings remains one of the most significant events of both World Wars and its anniversary is still marked with Anzac Day each year on the 25th April.
Though the man in this photograph is wearing standard AIF uniform, there's little to personally identify him beyond this. There are no colour patches, trade badges, wound stripes or overseas service chevrons or any other indicator of his specific role within the force. The collar pins fixed to his woollen service tunic depict the Rising Sun Badge, an insignia used by the Australian Armed Forces since 1902. This version of the badge, used throughout both World Wars, features a sunburst halo, a crown and a scroll which reads ‘Australian Commonwealth Military Forces’ and was standard issue, though there were other versions of the badge issued following the same design but with division-specific wording along the length of the scroll.
This type of portrait wasn't used for any official or military purpose and would have been taken by a commercial photographer as a keep sake, potentially left for love ones back home. This means The Australian War Memorial, who keeps this particular image in their archive, is one of many institutions who hold photographs like this, of unknown servicemen and women with no way of identifying them, short of a relative coming forward with other photographs or records. The soldier here was more than likely one of the many Australian casualties of the conflict and in that regard it remains the nation's costliest.


– Information on the First World War, 1914–1918 and its casualties.
– Information on Australia’s involvement in the War, along with the impact it had in a socio-economic context here and here.
The Gallipoli Campaign.
The Rising Sun badge.
– Information on the AIF here and here along with specific information on their uniforms between 1914–1918.
– Many thanks to Andrew Currey, at the AWM’s Research Centre who answered some of my questions about the AIF and the unknown soldier in the original photograph.  


Image 1 Unidentified soldier of the First AIF division.
Image 2 Lifeboat carrying men of the 1st Divisional Signal Company, 25 April 1915.
Image 3 ANZAC graves of the Brown’s Dip cemetary.
Image 4 Photograph of Gallipoli
– Image 5 The Rising Sun insignia, more information above.