Story: Families: a history

Photo for an absent father, 1917

Photo for an absent father, 1917

Ethel Smith poses with her baby son in 1917. Athol, the youngest of four children, never saw his father, Wilfred Collinson Smith, who died later that year in the Battle of Passchendaele. This photograph was sent to Wilfred, who wrote regularly to his family. In a letter in May 1917, Wilfred mentioned being 'very tired of soldier life' and wished he was with his children. A couple of months later he wrote to Ethel from the trenches where rats were 'running around and making a noise like birds, and the shells are flying overhead' (J. Phillips, N. Boyack and E. P. Malone, eds., The great adventure: New Zealand soldiers describe the First World War. Wellington: Allen and Unwin with Port Nicolson Press, 1988, pp. 210–222). He constantly thought about the comforts and pleasures of family life.

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How to cite this page:

Ian Pool and Rosemary Du Plessis, 'Families: a history - Families, wars and economic hardship: 1914–1944', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 February 2024)

Story by Ian Pool and Rosemary Du Plessis, published 5 May 2011, updated 1 Jul 2017