Cheops photo myths - Fact or Fiction?

Myth 6 - Cheops ID# 406 and ID# 407 Not handcuffed together - Myth DebunkedDebunking the Myths about the 11th Battalion Cheops Photo

Myths 5 to 8

For details of other myths go here: Debunking the Cheops Photo Myths

These 4 Myths have been around for too long – time to go….    


Myth 5

Soldier on top right sustained injuries in accident that killed the other soldier



This is untrue.

Myth 5 - Injured man, mate died -Myth debunkedIn the photo advertising some of the myths found in a shop in Queensland and shown on our Myths lead in page, the soldier in question for this myth is shown ID# 027 (far left in the image on the left).

On close examination he doesn't appear to have any injuries showing.Cheops ID# 027 - CSM J. J. Mahon (SERN 324)

He is tentatively identified as Sgt. John Joseph MAHON, Service # 324, C Company (image on right), but is subject to confirmation.

Sgt Mahon was appointed as C.S.M. on 1 Jan 1915, injured at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, later appointed RSM and commended for his valuable war service in 1917.

He returned home to Australia in May 1919.

Cheops ID#029 (Unidentified)However, the soldier at ID# 029 (image on left), not as yet identified and sitting on the left of Sgt MAHON, may have a small dressing or bandage on the left side of his forehead, perhaps coveing an injury that he may have sustained in an accident a day or so before this image was taken. It is difficult to determine whether this is in fact a dressing because of the distance from the camera and lack of clarity in the image.

BUT there is no record of a soldier having died in an accident in the days before this photo was taken, AND there is no dead soldier on the pyramid (see Myth 2 - Dead soldier in the photo who is being held up by his mate).

Myth 5 is debunked


Myth 6

The two soldiers with their hands above their heads were under arrest and handcuffed and released for the day


There is no evidence available to support this myth.

Myth 6 - Cheops ID# 406 and ID# 407 Not handcuffed together - Myth DebunkedMyth 6 - Arms linked NOT handcuffed - Myth debunkedBoth of the men involved in this myth have been identified. The soldier on the left in the image on the left is identified as Private James Joseph RYAN (Sern 258) ID# 406, and the man on his left (right in the image) has been identified as Private Patrick George (Peachy) GREEN (Sern 907) ID# 407.

Both of these young men were from Broomehill, a small town approximately half way between Katanning and Tambellup in the south-west of Western Australia.

Obviously mates they joined hands in an effort to stand out in the photograph.

Private Ryan has a watch on his left wrist which may have contributed to the myth of handcuffs.

Myth 6 is debunked



Myth 7

Catholic men are all missing from the photo because their church service went over time


This myth is untrue.

Captain (Fr) John FAHEY - Cheops Pyramid 10 January 1915 Captain (Doc) Brennan - Cheops pyramid photo 10 January 1915This seems to be a relatively newish myth, but none the less one which needs to be addressed. There is sufficient evidence to say that this is just another myth surrounding the 11th Battalion Cheops photo.

Amongst those men that have been identified, approximately 12% are recorded as being Roman Catholic on their attestation papers at enlistment. Of the Battalion strength at the time, there was approximately 13.3% recorded as Catholic.

This is more or less the same proportion of men in both cases, and not really a significant enough statistical difference between the two numbers to say that there is a large contingent of Catholic men missing from the photo, which you would expect if the myth were true.

Significantly the one person that your would expect to be missing if the Catholic contingent were not there due to a late church service, is sitting in the front row Captain (Father) Fahey is ID# 686.

The second significant Catholic who would be missing is Captain (Doctor) Brennan at ID# 698.

Myth 7 is debunked


Myth 8

Soldier at middle right hand side (ID# 337) is a 14 year old with his knees up


There is no evidence that any of the 11th Battalion soldiers in the Cheops photo was aged 14 at enlistment, identified or not.

Myth 8 - 14yr old with his knees up Not true - Myth DebunkedThis myth is aimed at the soldier sitting on the right hand side of the pyramid approximately half way up the photo. He is the soldier at ID# 337 in the WAGS Cheops Grid and is so far unidentified.

There are however a few pointers to his identity.

We suspect that he is a stretcher bearer as he is sitting in with a couple of other men who appear in an image of the 11th Battalion stretcher bearers, some of who have been identified and are nearby.

He certainly doesn't look 14 years old, and if he is a stretcher bearer, at 14 he would probably not have been able to handle the work, unless he was a big and fit boy for his age.

There is one well documented case of a 14 year old having enlisted in the 11th Battalion, being William Roy Guest. However he was not in Egypt at the time of the Cheops photo, and had declared that he was 19 yrs 9 mths old on 19 December 1914, he sailed with the 2nd reinforcements.

He was actually just 14 years and 9 months old but a comparatively big young boy who, at 5 ft 9 inches (175.2 cm) and weighed in at 163 pounds (73.9 Kgs) with a chest measurement of 34.5 inches, could carry his own amongst the average man in the Battalion. 

Myth 8 is debunked

If you know of any other myths surrounding the 11th Battalion Cheops Pyramid photo, and have proof that a "myth is true" or can otherwise "debunk the myths" please let us know via email on the Contact Page.