Uncle in Lost Diggers collection
Shirley McAdam believes this photo in the Lost Diggers collection is of her Uncle Ted.

A Perth woman believes her uncle is one of the unidentified soldiers in the Lost Diggers collection of World War I photographic plates.

Shirley McAdam was surprised when she opened _The West Australian _last week and saw a photo of a man she "definitely" thought was Ted Higgins.

"I got a heck of a shock because that picture was part of my childhood," she said.

The photo was taken by French farmer Louis Thuillier or his wife Antoinette, in late 1916 or early 1917 in the village of Vignacourt, where soldiers rested away from the front.

The Thuilliers photographed allied soldiers to turn the pictures into postcards to send home. Their photographic plates lay hidden in the attic of a French farmhouse for decades until businessman Kerry Stokes bought them, donating the plates to the Australian War Memorial last week.

Australian servicemen are in more than 800 plates but very few have been positively identified.

Mr Stokes found the plate featuring Lance-Cpl Higgins one of the most moving because it also showed an Aboriginal soldier.

Mrs McAdam said she did not know who the other man alongside her uncle was but he may have been a friend from the Wheatbelt.

Aboriginals camped in one of the paddocks of the Higgins family farm in Mourambine near Pingelly.

Like many of his generation, Lance-Cpl Higgins lied about his age when he enlisted in June 1915. He was 17 but said he was 22, helped by his 1.8m frame. He was deployed in Egypt and France with the 51st Battalion, was wounded twice in battle and killed on Anzac Day, 1918.

Mrs McAdam said the original photo must have been cut in half because the postcard that Lance-Cpl Higgins sent to his mother did not have the Aboriginal soldier in it. It was used to create a composite photo with Lance-Cpl Higgins' younger brother Jack, who also died on the Western Front, and hung in the dining room.

"My mother said Ted had that picture taken pretty much straight after his part in a battle," Mrs McAdam said. "Because of the strain on his face and how he is looking into the distance, I always thought it a sad photo. I felt sorry for him."

The West Australian

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