MYSTERY: This old photograph, discovered in a frame bought at a garage sale, has local history buffs curious about the family's identity.
MYSTERY: This old photograph, discovered in a frame bought at a garage sale, has local history buffs curious about the family's identity.

Can you help solve the mystery of this WWI photograph?

AN OLD family portrait that could date back to World War 1 has captured the imagination of local history buffs.

Gympie man Leon Bath brought the photo to the Gympie Family History Society this month.

The photo was found in a wooden frame carved with hearts, hidden behind a poster.

Society vice-chair Di Woodstock said the photo had been hidden in Mr Bath's father's shed for years.

"His father is an avid attendee of garage sales each weekend and about 2 years ago he bought a picture in a wooden carved frame - most likely to sell the frame,” Mrs Woodstock said.

"Recently he decided the time had come for the frame to find a new home and he dug it out of the back of the shed where it had been placed after purchase.

"His son Leon saw the picture and they thought to take the poster out of the frame for easier sale of the frame.”

They discovered that the German mass produced poster had been stuck over the top of the family photograph of a man in uniform and two girls.

"The three people are definitely related as their faces are similar in shape and they all have very strong 'clefts' on their top lips,” Mrs Woodstock said.

"We believe they are most likely siblings.”

A barely legible note written in pencil on the back of the frame includes the name Johnstone.

The photo was taken at the Murray Studios in Gympie.

The Society has found five men with a surname of Johnston or Johnstone in the Gympie area enlisted in World War 1, and is investigating the siblings of each man to see if they match the girls' descriptions.

Mrs Woodstock said Society member Brett Watson worked heavily with military photos and research.

"He has suggested that perhaps the gentleman is in dress uniform,” Mrs Woodstock said.

"There are no additions to the sleeves at all for insignia and sometimes the photography studios 'loaned' the sitter the uniform if they had only just enlisted.”

The girls' jewellery could also be clues to their identity.

"When we looked at the photo more closely, the two girls are both wearing lovely jewellery,” Mrs Woodstock said.

The sitting girl is wearing a strand of pearls at her neck and a leather watch that Mrs Woodstock suggested may be her father's.

"The standing girl is wearing a brooch which may perhaps be a watch as well, and the top of it is very ornate,” Mrs Woodstock said.

The standing girl's necklace depicts a lady, which Mrs Woodstock guessed may have been a mother who passed away.

Anyone who could help solve the mystery of this family's identity can contact the Society at or call Mrs Woodstock on 0419 224 628.

The Society is also working on a series of books about the effects of World War 1 on soldiers' families.

Mrs Woodstock said the Society would welcome any photos or stories from around the region during the war.

Gympie Times

Meghan, Harry ‘struggling to cope’ in LA

Meghan, Harry ‘struggling to cope’ in LA

Dream of a blissful new life has quickly turned into a nightmare

Fresh confusion over virus 'detention'

Fresh confusion over virus 'detention'

Thousands of Melbourne public housing residents have been provided with "detention...

Man in iconic 9/11 photo dies from virus

Man in iconic 9/11 photo dies from virus

This man miraculously survived the 9/11 terror attacks