Photograph, of Pte George K Boddington, paper / cardboard, maker unknown, Australia, 1914
In 1914 the Australian government vowed to fight in defence of Britain 'to the last man and the last shilling'. At first many of the men who volunteered saw it as a great adventure, an opportunity to travel and spend time overseas. The postcards sent back by the Boddington boys are typical, with their images of exotic scenes and foreign cities. However the tragedy of Gallipoli followed by the terrible trench warfare of France soon changed all this. Of the 300,000 Australians who fought overseas, 60,000 were killed and another 120,000 seriously wounded.
The Boddington family collection is a poignant reminder of the personal cost of war. Two of George and Emily Boddington's three sons were killed. Captain Frederick Boddington (46 INF BN) was killed in action on 11 April 1917 at the first battle of Bullecourt, and Private George Boddington (7 FD AMB) died of wounds sustained at the second Battle of Bullecourt on 12 May 1917. Bullecourt was on the Hindenburg Line, a sixteen mile front that stretch north to Arras. The fighting to cross this front was intense with 3,000 Australian casualties in the first battle and 7,000 in the second.
The Australian government officially acknowledged the loss of sons and fathers through the distribution of commemorative plaques, ribbons and badges. Emily Boddington was awarded a mourning brooch with two stars and two bars symbolising each son she had lost. The plaques were proudly mounted on sitting room walls or carefully stored away in the cardboard container.
Humphrey McQueen, 'Social sketches of Australia, 1888-1975', Penguin Books, 1978
Dudley McCarthy, Gallipoli to the Somme:'the story of CEW Bean', John Ferguson, 1983
Family of Pte. G K Boddington who died of wounds from the Second Battle of Bullecourt, 12 May 1917. By descent through the Boddington family to the Humphries family.
The two brothers, Frederick E Boddington and George K Boddington were both killed at Bullecourt, France. Frederick E Boddington was killed in action on 11 April 1917 at the First Battle of Bullecourt, and George K Bodddington died of wounds on 12 May 1917 from wounds sustained on 10 May at the Second Battle of Bullecourt. This item is one of an archive including both brothers' medals, death plaques and photographs, as well as a 'mourning medal', letters, postcards and other items relating the gravity of loss for the family. The symbols of loss are most strongly linked to the mother of the Boddington boys, and intimates most poignantly the social impact of those left grieving at home in Australia.