Every Picture Tells a Story The Photo Album of Alice Gooch (nee Ulph)

From records held at the Norfolk Record Office. MC 3036

The popularity of albums, scrapbooks and autograph books during the First World War serves the historian well. They bring a visual perspective to the war and, in the case of postcards, express a sentimentality and emotion which may have been difficult to express in words.

While this blog uses only the photos and postcards from Alice Gooch’s photo album (MC 3036), there are many other such examples to be found at the Norfolk Record Office, some of which are included in the blog post on embroidered cards.

Alice was born in Norwich in 1893 and attended St Augustine’s School. She later worked as a machinist in the shoe industry.  Alice’s album is a substantial book and it must be testimony to how well she was thought of by her colleagues because it was given as a birthday present in 1915 with the inscription:

To Alice

Presented by the Workgirls

For her Birthday

August 9th 1915

Many postcards wished the recipient well, sending appropriate greetings to coincide with special events. The following postcard is ironic in its use of the swastika to send a good luck message given the events some twenty years later.  The swastika, a derivation of the Sanskrit word svastika means good luck.  The symbol had been used for thousands of years before Hitler adopted the symbol for the Nazi party.

Photo 1

Card from Sid in France.

This card was sent from Sid in France and reads: Just a few lines to let you know that I received a slight wound in right hand but it has healed up and am allright again & back with the Battalion.

None of Alice’s postcards or photos reveal names which allow us to find out who they were. Some names may have been family, there is one from Uncle George, while others have no connection with Norwich such as M MacLeod from the Cameron Highlanders. These were soldiers who Alice met while working at Bracondale Auxiliary War Hospital where she volunteered as a pantry maid at the weekends.

Photo 2

Postcard from Uncle George.

Photo 3

Postcard from M MacLeod of the Cameron Highlanders.

Two postcards appear to be linked although the connection to Alice is not clear. Both are from different members of the same family – the Ruscoes from Lancashire.

Photo 4

Postcard to Alice from Miss Ruscoe.

This postcard was sent to Alice from Miss Ruscoe of Southport as part of the “Girls Friend Exchange”.

Photo 5

Postcard from A Ruscoe.

This postcard was sent from A Ruscoe.  There are records showing an A Ruscoe serving in the Lancashire Fusiliers who was invalided out of the Army after being wounded in France in 1918.

Alice’s album also contains several photos. Again, we have some names but know nothing else about them.

Photo 6

Photo of ‘Harry Newman’.

The back of this photo has the name ‘Harry Newman’.  It would be lovely to know which one he is and what happened to him.

Photo 7

Photo of unidentified solider.

Who is this young man standing proudly in his uniform?

The back reads: With fond love Freddie.

Alice’s album captures a period in time when an uncertain future strengthened friendships through correspondence and photos. Her album continued for some time after the war.

Compiled by Daryl Long, NRO Research Blogger

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