Can you help identify the soldier in this photograph? It was treasured by its original owner and is now in the possession of her granddaughter.
All that is known for sure is that he is a Lieutenant in the 47th Battalion and that the original owner was Miriam Gladys Mathews, a nurse who lived in London and Grantham, England during the war. The 47th Battalion was raised in New Westminster, B.C. although as the years went by it was reinforced by men from other parts of the country.
I’m hoping that if enough people see this image someone may recognize the face from a family photo album, newspaper clipping or military archive. Please share this image with friends, family and followers.
There is an inscription on the back of the photograph which mentions the names of three soldiers, one of which, David Julian Cust, is believed to refer to the Lieutenant. Unfortunately to date this inscription has raised more questions than answers:
- The word “Cust” has been overwritten and it ends with a period, implying it may be an abbreviation rather than a surname.
- It mentions that the soldier was killed in 1915 however the 47th didn’t arrive in France until the summer of 1916. It’s possible he died before this time or that he transferred to another unit after this photograph was taken, however…
- The name “Cust” is uncommon and according to the Library and Archives Canada “Personal Records of the First World War” database there are only two men with this surname who served for Canada and neither were officers or died in service. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission database lists ten men with the name “Cust” who died during the war but none were officers, served for Canada or were named David (or Julian). Furthermore the Royal Westminster Regiment Museum confirmed that no one with the surname “Cust” served with the 47th Battalion during the war. Despite this I did check nominal rolls for the 47th Battalion (including three reinforcement drafts) as well as the 7th, 29th, 121st and 131st Battalions.
- I also looked into the possibility that the surname was an abbreviation for Captain or Lieutenant and searched for possible candidates with the surname “Julian” or “David”. This provided no plausible leads, nor did looking for a “David J” with a surname that began with the letter “C”.
With the name-based search turning up nothing we are now concentrating on distributing this image to as many people as possible. I’ll be putting a call out on Twitter and Facebook and we will keep our fingers crossed that a crowd-sourcing approach might work. If you have any information that might help solve this mystery please contact me. Thanks!