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|Billy Fish: "He wants to know if you are gods." Peachy Carnehan: "Not gods - Englishmen, the next best thing."
from John Huston's film of the Rudyard Kipling story The Man Who Would Be King.
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|A Virtual Museum of Antique Victorian-era British Military Photographs and Associated Biographical Research
|Please take moment or two and visit the newly relaunched
Possibly of the Royal Engineers
India, c. 1870s
Although lacking identification of any kind this
carte de visite none the less offers a outstanding
window or glimpse into the face of one of Her
Majesty's serving soldiers in India sometime
probably in the late 1870s.
Aside from his twisted gold shoulder cords,
polished buttons and gold chin chain, this soldier
wears little to embellish his bright white tropical
uniform. As befitting a man serving in India his
white foreign service helmet bears a white pagri,
which at the time were not authorized for wear
outside of India.
The man's rather well grown mustache and
mutton chop side boards give him the bearing of
an officer but there is nothing else to actually...
Inscribed by a son to memorialize his late father, this fan-folded set of four
real photo postcards chronicle the life of Commander James Alfred Boxer,
R.N. who had passed away on 29 January, 1924.
From a family with a long association with the Royal Navy, James Alfred
Boxer was born on 8 August 1842 to Captain James Fuller Boxer, R.N. and
Matilda Mary Sturdee at Portsmouth.
James Alfred Boxer entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman on 12 July,
1855 just shy of his twelfth birthday. Details concerning Boxer's service as
a midshipman are sketchy but by in 1861 he was serving aboard the
screw-propelled 91-gun second-rate ship of the line HMS Victor Emmanuel.
He was promoted lieutenant on 8 April 1863.
Early in 1865 he found himself an engineering lieutenant on board the
screw corvette HMS Niger under Captain John C. Byng outward bound for
the North American and West Indian stations.
The American Civil war was in its death throws by this time and the threat
of war between the United States and Great Britain not long past as the
Niger made her way westward. The Niger touched at Havana, Cuba before
making he way to Jamaica where members of her crew may have taken part
in suppressing the so-called Morant Bay Riot in October 1865.
Clearly based on the illustration by noted war
artist Richard Caton Woodville titled A Gentleman
in Khaki, this photograph recreates the drawing
which often accompanied Rudyard Kipling's
Anglo-Boer War poem The Absent- Minded Beggar.
Woodville's drawing appears to have been rather
faithfully recreated by photographer H. J. Smith
with a the wounded and bandaged British soldier
defiantly chambering another round into his
Lee-Enfield rifle in the face of the unseen Boers.
Was Smith's model an actor or real soldier? I
suspect the former because the man's tunic appears
to be a Norfolk style jacket instead of a proper
khaki service type.
John Frederick Melfort Campbell
70th Regiment of Foot
Bombay Staff Corps
2nd Baluch Regiment
Carte de Visite
John Frederick Melfort Campbell was one of the many promising
young officers who fell while on active service almost before their
military careers had begun. His biography was published in The Afghan
Campaigns of 1878-1880 by Sydney H. Shadbolt (1882) and it follows
here in total:
John Frederick Melfort Campbell was the eldest son of the late
Captain Patrick Campbell, R.N., of the family of Melfort,
Argyleshire, by his marriage to Gertrude, only daughter of the late
Captain Joseph Barnes, R.A. He was born on the 12th December,
1856 and was educated at the Royal Naval School New Cross.
From this establishment he passed, in the midsummer examination
of 1875, tenth out of a hundred and thirty-five candidates for direct
commission in the Line; and being shortly afterward gazetted to
the 70th Foot, joined that regiment at Peshawar.
|1895 India General Service Medal
No. 4890 Pte. Henry James Walker
The Queen's (Royal West Surrey)
The 1895 India General Service Medal was introduced as a replacement
for its predecessor which had been introduced some 31 years earlier in
1854. It was felt that the older India General Service Medal, which by this
time had acquired some 24 clasps, did not in some cases adequately
represent the actual amount of active service that some officers and men
had taken part in. Additionally given the number of clasp combinations...
Philippine Insurrection Campaign Medal
Sergeant John Osborne Powell
United States Army
Unlike British medal rolls which list the same service information engraved on
the specific medal's rim and which were prepared and maintained by the
recipient’s regiment, American “rolls”, or possibly more correctly indexes, are
simply a numerical list of serial numbers cross-referenced to a man’s name.
Sometimes the man’s rank and unit are also listed, sometimes only his branch
of service. Sometimes nothing more than his hometown and sometimes just a
name and nothing else.
Eventually, all pretense as to keeping track of to whom a campaign medal was
issued to, was scrapped and by the time of World War One the numbering
system was all but abandoned.
Bedecked with campaign medal for service in
Queen Victoria’s last two major colonial wars,
Sergeant Loftus Swift Williams or the rifle
Brigade strikes a very regimental pose in this
photo which he touchingly inscribed to his
daughter Flora in 1912.
Williams himself hailed from Sandown on the
Isle of Wight, being born in early 1878. His
mother was Charlotte James Williams while his
father’s name is unknown. He served in the
militia with the Hants Volunteer Artillery prior
to his enlistment in the Rifle Brigade as No.
4463 on 26 February 1896.
After a brief stay in Malta, Williams, who had
been posted to the 2nd Battalion, travelled up
the Nile River with Kitchener’s expedition to
retake Khartoum and was present at the capture
of the Madhist stronghold. He was entitled to the
Queen’s Sudan Medal and the Khedive’s Sudan
Medal with the clasp “Khartoum”.
Loftus Swift Williams
The Rifle Brigade
Mounted Photograph (Trimmed)
|Surgeon-Major Henry Cornish
Army Medical Department
Album Page Mounted Carte de Visite
Natal Colony, South Africa
This carte de visite by Natal photographer William Bowman was taken from
an album recording notable members of the Natal military and civil services
from the time between then end of the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879 and the
Transvaal War of 1881. While many of the men depicted are now obscure to
history, the page mounted carte de visite stood out because of the part played
by its sitter Surgeon-Major Henry Cornish in the disastrous battle of Majuba
Hill during the Transvaal War.