The 1915 image shows uniformed soldiers as far as the eye can see walking along a country lane with kit bags on their shoulders. They are surrounded by women folk, children and well wishers bidding them farewell.
The photo is marked with an X to indicate Sapper Robert (Bob) Phillips and bears a note, ‘Bob leaving Ireland for war’. It was found among his personal collection of Great War memorabilia. Phillips, of Newtownards, County Down, enlisted for service on January 13, 1915 aged 19. He joined the 36th Division Signalling Company Royal Engineers and went on to win the Military Medal for bravery.
The diary and images will be offered in Hansons’ First World War Auction on November 7, estimate £100-150. Matt Crowson, head of militaria at Hansons, said: “I’ve seen similar photos before of other regiments but this one is probably unique. A local photographer was probably hired to cover the event and mementos of the occasion might have been purchased by the families.”
The diary covers his movements through Europe from October 1915 to November 11, 1918, when he wrote: “Armistice accepted 11/11/18 at 11 o’clock.” Also included is a letter written by Phillips’ friend and comrade Bertie Jackson to Phillips’ mother in Ulster. He revealed to her how he lost his brother during operations, and how her son’s companionship had kept him from sinking under his loss.