Thanks so much.
I was just wondering the same thing when your email arrived. The uniform is certainly impressive and the photo did go back to Germany. Unfortunately it wasn't impressive enough for anyone in the family to recall who he was.
I find it significant that you turned up 3 male Hesses living together, including Ferdinand (as this name was used by the Australian family) and Ernst which doesn't ring any bells. Seems a bit too co-incidental and suggests some relationship - brothers or cousins at least. The ages all seem to fit as well.
I will try to get some more info from the German end. The German relatives don't seem to be as interested in tracing ancestors - probably because they still live in the same village which is virtually unchanged from the mid 1800s.
As I said to Leslie, I'll need to brush up on US genealogy as to date my interests have been Australia, England, Scotland, Ireland and Germany. Oh for ancestors who stuck close to home :-)