History Class, Photos, Storytelling, Uncategorized, World War 2, Writing Inspiration

A Photo, A Kilt, An Italian Woman, and Many Questions

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, which works out well for today’s post, as the school year is racing towards me and the majority of my words are being soaked up into lesson plans!

Personally, I think that this extraordinary shot from the archives of The Imperial War Museum   is interesting enough to qualify for at least fifteen hundred words. Of course, that makes this an over-long post, so I’d better get on with it. Without further ado…

kilt examination
“An Italian woman inspects the kilts of Pipe Major William MacConnachie and Pipe Major William Boyd in the Colosseum of Rome, 6 June 1944.” © IWM (NA 16084)

I can’t help but wonder, was this photo spontaneous? Was Sergeant Radford of the No. 2 Army Film & Photographic Unit in just the right place at the right time to capture this odd image?

Was the pictured Pipe Major so happy to be in Rome, the first Axis capital to fall, that he ignored the “breeze” pulling at the back of his kilt?

Perhaps, or perhaps it was staged. After all, in my opinion the lady’s shoes don’t look built for stealth.

Either way, I don’t imagine she could have gone undetected for much longer. What do you suppose the shot would have looked like taken thirty seconds later?

And, of course, there’s the obvious question: just what was she doing in the first place?

At any rate, I didn’t expect something as curious as this little image to come up when I searched the IMW collections under “Second World War Italy,” but I’m glad that it did! I love finding old photos that make me wonder, that hint at the stories of the people they capture.

As I’ve now clearly exceeded the two thousand word mark, between the picture and my musings, I’ll leave you to form your own conclusions- what do you think this picture was all about?

As for me, I’m back to planning Creative Writing lessons! Maybe the kids and I will do some stories using photos as prompts…

Many thanks for visiting!

16 thoughts on “A Photo, A Kilt, An Italian Woman, and Many Questions”

  1. If that had been my grandmother, who was a seamstress, I’d have said she was checking the finish on the garment! Or perhaps she was straightening a kink in the material – or even hoping to get the answer to the popular question about men in kilts?! Whatever, it’s an amazing photograph and as Jon said, “thick with stories”. Happy Creative Writing lesson planning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, but now those are possibilities- I know I’ve been caught straightening collars on people sitting in front of me! And HA! I suppose the third is a possibility too 😉
      Thanks- I love lesson planning. For a few, brief weeks, the whole year looks so tidy…


  2. Hi Anne – I bet she was there … and just stopped to feel the kilt and cloth … something really unusual in Italy -must have been winter …. but photographers do capture really simple, yet great moments, in life … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Right? If I look at it too long I half expect his hand to whip back and (nicely) smack those fingers aside! (It also reminds me of last week in church with the youngest- that’s what I get for wearing a skirt…)

      Liked by 1 person

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