This photograph of World War One soldier, Harold James Brabner, nearly didn’t survive. It is a very large portrait measuring 65 x 41 centimetres which was hanging in the Midland Railway Workshops for many years. When the workshops closed in 1994 it was about to be thrown out but was rescued by someone who appreciated its significance.
The gentleman who rescued the photograph displayed it in his own home for quite some time, despite having no personal connection with the subject of the photograph.That was until 2014 when he saw an article in the West Australian newspaper calling for donations of WWI material to the State Library. He contacted the Library and offered the portrait for our Pictorial collection. Our Conservation staff have done some restoration on it and it has now been digitised and made available online.
The portrait simply has the word “Brabner” on the reverse. Research reveals that he was Harold James Brabner of the 11th Battalion who was killed in action on 17 September 1917 at Bullecourt, Belgium aged 23. His service is commemorated at Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres. His connection with the Midland Railway Workshops is that he worked as a painter in the locomotive workshop.
Harold was born in Victoria in 1894 to James and Georgina Brabner nee Sherwell. The couple had another son, George Alexander, in 1896 and a daughter, Nelly, in 1899. By 1906 the family had moved to Bellevue in Western Australia. Both sons enlisted in the 11th Battalion and, sadly, both men lost their lives.
The State Library welcomes donations of material relating to the history of Western Australia. Please see our Donations page for more details.