Who Is Willi Huber? Medals Gone Missing is searching For The Family Of A German Soldier From The Great War.
IMAGE RIGHT: One of the photographs of German soldier, Willi HUBER which was rescued from the photo album. Unfortunately, the person selling this collection of Great War photographs had chosen to split the album up – rather than preserve it as a complete record of Willi’s war service. Can you help us to return this photo to a direct descendant of Willi HUBER?
How is it that the photographic memories of a young German soldier who served his country during World War One; can end up on the other side of the world – for sale at a flea market?
It is always a saddening affair, when a piece of family history ends up as a “discarded” commodity, for sale by some stranger whose only interest is to make money from a sale. In this case, the tragic subject of the matter is a photo album which had been broken up and the photographs offered for sale as ‘individual’ items.
IMAGE LEFT: German soldier Willi HUBER (seated on the left) with a comrade. Due to Willi’s apparent reduction in weight on his face when compared to other photographs in the collection, it is possible that this photograph was taken towards the end of the war?
Any attempt to purchase the entire photo album at an agreed price, was rejected by the merchant who insisted on selling each image for a fixed price. The problem for any prospective buyer is that the photographs had been glued to the page, requiring them to be torn from the paper backing. Also, the sum of the total cost would also become extremely excessive and financially not viable. With this, it is inevitable that a quantity of photographs which document one man’s life, will be tragically scattered to the four corners of the earth and separated forever.
So who is Willi HUBER? The few photographs which managed to be salvaged, tell us that he is a young man serving in the German Army during the 1914-1918 war. Anything else about this soldier can only be surmised or arrived at through an educated guess.
IMAGE LEFT: Private Willi HUBER, sharing some happy moments with his comrades. It is not known what happened to any of the men in this photograph. If you recognise any of these soldiers, please contact the Medals Gone Missing Administrator.
What is known almost for certain is that he fathered a child (or children) during or after the Great War. As some of the photographs were captioned with the year ‘1917’ it is hoped that Willi HUBER managed to survive the last two years of slaughter and lived to see the Armistice. That this photo album should turn up at a market on the south coast of New South Wales in Australia, may be an indicator that one of his children or other descendants immigrated to this country some time later.
Very little information is given away by the style and cut of Willi HUBER’s uniform. However, it is hoped that a family researcher in Germany (or one of his Australian descendants) may recognise this man from other photographs still held in their collection.
Sixteen photographs in total, were purchased by Medals Gone Missing. However, this amounted to only about one-third of the entire collection. As we are a ‘Not For Profit’ organisation, our finances restrict us from making such large purchases.
IMAGE RIGHT: A photograph showing German Private Willi HUBER with his fellow soldiers, going about their daily routine in the trenches. Can you help identify any of the other men in this photograph? If so, please contact the Medals Gone Missing Administrator.
Subsequently, it is hoped that a descendant of Willi HUBER who values their family heritage can be found in a timely manner. Perhaps then, the other photographs can be purchased and the album kept together as it should be.
Are you a descendant of Willi HUBER? Or do you know anybody by this surname? If so, please help us to find his family and re-unite them with the photos – so that Willi’s memory can be preserved by his people who care …… and not callously traded like a commodity.
IMAGE LEFT: A photograph of German soldiers, ransacking the wreck of a downed British aircraft. The quest by soldiers to acquire items of interest for ‘souvenirs’ was not uncommon and was practised by all nationalities. Australians did a similar thing when the Fokker Triplane of famous German ace, Baron Manfred Von Richthofen was brought down near Amiens on the 21st of April, 1918.
IMAGE RIGHT: A sad photograph, showing the apparent deceased pilot (possibly of the Royal Flying Corps) laying on the ground, beside the wreck of his ‘downed’ aircraft. This previously unpublished photograph; and others in this article are subject to copyright. Should you wish to use or reproduce this image, please contact the Medals Gone Missing Administrator where permission is usually granted subject to certain conditions.
One of the photograph’s in the collection of Willi HUBER bears the description ‘Dadizeele’. Now known as Dadizele, this village lies approximately 16 kilometers due east of Ieper in Belgium. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records (CWGC) there is a cemetery located there, titled the DADIZEELE NEW BRITISH CEMETERY. As this village was in German hands for most of the war, it is not known when Willi HUBER visited this location.
A photograph taken by Willi HUBER, shows a cathedral which has been breached by an artillery shell or other type of battle damage. As the photograph within the album was on the same page as the previous image showing a street scene of Dadizeele, it is possible that this church is also built within this city. The Medals Gone Missing Administrator would like to hear from any of our readers in Belgium or Germany who can confirm this?
IMAGE LEFT: A photograph taken by Private Willi HUBER showing another damaged church, this time in the village of Becelaere which is west of Brussels. As Willi seems to have a photographic interest in chuches, it is possible that he was a man of christian belief.
Another image shows a heavily damaged cathedral in the village of Becelaere in Belgium. Situated approximately 90 kilometers west of Brussels, the village lies to the east of Ieper (Ypres) and it is clear from this photo that the village was heavily shelled. Also evident in the photograph is some war graves to the left of the image. We would be interested to hear from any person who can tell us any information about the fighting which took place in this area. Willi has incorrectly recorded the spelling as Bacelaera on the actual image.
A photograph exists of the damaged interior of a building. As this image appears on the same page within the album, it is possible that this picture has recorded the devastation occasioned to the cathedral at Becelaere. As Becelaere is situated to the east of Ieper (called Ypres during the Great War) it is evident that this village was part of the region near the Ypres Salient. It is hoped that one of our readers in Belgium may be able to provide us with more information regarding this village and its part during the fighting in this sector.
It is clear from the extent of the images contained within the photo album of Private Willi HUBER that he was a keen photographer. What is unfortunate is that the remainder of the photographs still lie in the hands of the merchant who sold these images to Medals Gone Missing. It is hoped that a descendant of Willi HUBER can be located and the remaining photographs reunited as a complete record.
IMAGE RIGHT: An artillery shell, still contained within its wicker carrying case (location unknown). There are a couple of photographs of such items in Willi’s collection. Is it possible that he was a member of an artillery unit?
The other photographs which remain outstanding showed general trench scenes and examples of military hardware. Unfortunately, based on the sales principle of the antique dealer, their purchase price could not be met by Medals Gone Missing – which is a NOT FOR PROFIT organisation with limited funds. If any person could sponsor the purchase of the remaining photographs for the sake of maintaining these images as a complete set, please contact the Administrator.
It is now hoped that a direct descendant of German soldier, Private Willi HUBER can be located and these photographs returned to them. If you know any person by this name (or can shed any further light as to the subject of any of these images) then please contact the Medals Gone Missing Administrator through the “Contact Us” facility of this website.
Lest We Forget – Private Willi HUBER; 1914 – 1918 War.