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A Virtual Museum of Antique Victorian-era British Military Photographs and Associated Biographical Research
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John Frederick Melfort Campbell

70th Regiment of Foot
Bombay Staff Corps
2nd Baluch Regiment

London, England

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.
United States
Philippine Insurrection Campaign Medal


Sergeant John Osborne Powell
United States Army

c. 1905
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 “
Loftus Swift Williams

The Rifle Brigade

Colchester, England

Mounted Photograph (Trimmed)

Surgeon-Major Henry Cornish
Army Medical Department

Album Page Mounted Carte de Visite

Natal Colony, South Africa

c. 1881
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.
Depicting a color sergeant from a Canadian militia rifle battalion, this cased Pannotype is
an example of one of the rarest forms of 19th Century photographic processes encountered

Perhaps the greatest failing of early glass plate photographic images was their inherent
fragility. Padded cases similar to this one were developed to offer such glass images a
degree of protection. And while cases made for quite beautiful means of presentation for
such images, the glass image house withing could still be cracked or shattered if the case
was dropped or sharply struck.

I an attempt to remedy the situation, in 1853 the firm of Wülff & Co developed the
pannotype process. The process involved transferring the image bearing emulsion layer
from a glass plate ambrotype image to a flexible substrate such as fabric or more rarely
leather (such as this example) which had been previously blackened and waxed.  While the
process did indeed produce an unbreakable image it inadvertently left the transferred
emulsion very prone to cracking, flaking and other forms of deterioration.

In any event the widespread introduction of the much more robust metal plate
melainotype or ferrotype) around 1860 made the pannotype redundant and it quickly
disappeared from the market.
Canadian Militia Color Sergeant
of Rifles

Full Cased 1/6th Plate Leather


c. Late 1850s
British Soldier in "Zulu" Rickshaw

Cabinet Photograph

Natal, South Africa

c. 1900
It has been said that the Devil is in the detail and such is very the case of this
Anglo-Boer War vintage cabinet photograph.

The image depicts a British soldier from an undetermined regiment as a passenger in
a so-called Zulu rickshaw. Somewhat misnamed since few if any of these vehicles
were actually operated by members of the Zulu people. These rickshaws were derived
from those first built in Japan c. 1869 and where a popular mode of transportation in
and around Durban in Natal during the late 19th and 20th Centuries.
Generally falling outside the historical scope
of this website, this rather unusual memorial
cabinet photograph has been included her for a
number of reasons. One of these is its rather
unusual and touching nature. Secondly with the
100th anniversary of the end of the Great War
just recently concluded, its inclusion is more
than a little timely.

This cabinet card memorializes No.1428 Private
David Henry Napier of B Squadron, 1/2nd
County of London Yeomanry (Westminster
Dragoons) who died of pneumonia (apparently
contracted at Gallipoli) at Cairo, Egypt on 11
August 1915. He was buried at the Cairo War
Memorial Cemetery. HIs medal entitlement
included the 1914-15 Star and the British War
and Victory Medals.
Memorial Cabinet Card to  
Private David Henry Napier

Westminster Dragoons

December 1917
Military General Service Medal

Half Cased 1/6th Plate Ambrotype

Unknown Photographer

c. 1850s
Dating from the middle of the 19th
Century, this half cased 1/6th plate
glass ambrotype photograph appears
to have immortalized a recipient of
the Military General Service Medal
(MGSM) – a retroactive award
created in 1847 and presented to
surviving veterans of the Napoleonic
Wars and the War of 1812.

The medal that this rather pleasant,
although unfortunately unidentified
gentleman is wearing appears to
have at least five clasps which would
seem to have made him a veteran of
Wellesley’s Peninsular War against
Napoleon in Spain (1807–1814).

This medal along with its maritime
counterpart, the Naval General
Service Medal (NGSM) were the first
true campaign medals issued by the
British Crown.  While both the
MGSM and the NGSM were very...