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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Is This My Father?

Today's AskOliveTree post is a bit different. It's my own question about a photograph. I hope readers will be kind enough to share their own opinions.

My father died Christmas Day many years ago. I had just turned 14 one month before his death. Over time my memory of his face has faded.

There are very few photographs of my dad. Those few (a handful) that exist are grainy out of focus images. Except for one. I have a studio portrait of my father taken during WW2, long before I was born.

At an auction recently I bid on and won a group photo of soldiers who were in training in Guelph Ontario in 1942. My dad lived in Guelph and was in training there when he joined the Army. This is a cropped portion of that group photo.

As soon as I saw the photo, I thought that the soldier seated to the right of the officer with the swagger stick (front row) could be my dad! It looks so much like him to my eyes. He is the 5th man counting from the right side.

I scanned and enlarged that soldier and have placed it below beside the WW2 studio portrait of my father. What do you think? Is it him?

I did notice differences as soon as I enlarged the photo. But my husband pointed out that the unknown man (left) has the sun in his eyes so he has shadows on his face that distort his features. He is also squinting a bit, further causing distortion. His face is turned slightly further to the side than the one I know is my father.

Please take a look and give your opinion. I want this to be a photo of my father so much that I am not sure I can judge objectively! Perhaps someone knows who the men were in No. 1 Platoon Basic Training in Guelph in July 1942. Even if no one knows for sure, your opinions and thoughts would be appreciated.


  1. A few things stand out in the photos. Both men are balding on the left side and both have (IMHO) large ears. Both have rather narrow faces. They appear close in age, with the man on the right being a bit older and with a moustache. Because I see no outstanding dissimilarities I would judge that they are the same person.

    In your mind, take away the moustache and imagine the man on the right with his head cocked a bit to the left, eyes squinted and his mouth slightly open. What do you think?


  2. I don't think they are the same man at all, Lorine. This pair of eyes, fresh to the study, don't see much similarity at all. I even think the structure of the ears is different. Since Maureen Taylor is a photo expert, ask her opinion too. I see a difference in complexion too. Just don't think it's the same man. Sorry.

  3. Man oh man, I can so relate to the first part of this post. My father died in 1988 - I was only 21. It breaks my heart when I can't remember his face. I feel so bad when I have to go look at a picture of him because I can't remember what he looks like sometimes.

  4. Wow that is a tough one. The ears do not appear to be the same shape. The overall face shape is very close, but the jaws seem a bit different. The hairline is very similar.

    It definitely COULD be. The ears are throwing me though.

    The man on the right is handsomer anyway :)

  5. Have you tried an automated approach. I hear that Picasa has facial recognition built into it--perhaps see if it makes a match? No guarantee of course, but a bit more of a mathmatical approach.

  6. I lean more to the man third from the right. Your father had a thin mouth, but his ears were not as big as the man in the front.
    Fun exercise for us, sad for you. Let us know if you find out.

  7. Hi everyone - I am so grateful for your responses! There are lots of good tips and things for me to think about. I'm going to write another blog post this weekend with more findings and possibly more questions. Fingers crossed!