The album was an unassuming green cloth-bound book picked up at an antique fair. I should never have bought it since, at first sight, there were no clues to the previous owner’s identity. But the photos were wonderful – a clearly wealthy Edwardian family, shown posing in sunny gardens, elegant domestic interiors and in front of a comfortable sandstone property.
I examined the back of each photo – all blank until the I reached a picture of a handsome young man, pipe in hand and wearing a long leather coat and airman’s cap. On the reverse was written “For Jenny EKA RFC May 1916”. The date and the outfit suggested that RFC stood for Royal Flying Corps.
After a fruitless search through Ancestry’s military records for possible names, I found that the Royal Flying Corps has an online people index, listing all 22,012 entries alphabetically. I trawled through the ‘A’ page looking for EKA – this took for ever but I ended up with only one match – Edward Kerr Anderson. Ancestry revealed his death on 16 March 1918 at Winchester and linked me though to FindAGrave. There I was astonished to find his burial in the New Kilpatrick Parish Churchyard at Bearsden, together with a portrait that matched the photo in my album.
Edward was the youngest of the four sons of Eleanora Kay of Strathairly, Largo, Fife and William J Anderson OBE, a chartered accountant. A search in the British Newspaper Archive revealed that Edward had died in a flying accident, probably while training as an instructor. He had already lost two brothers in WW1 and the third died only a fortnight after his death. His poor parents had lost all four sons to the war.
I believe that Edward left family behind. Three people before me had left messages on FindAGrave and one of them had posted two photos of him. The family headstones stand in a peaceful parish graveyard in Bearsden..