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Viscount 802

Images of the British Army in Mesopotamia, 1918-1919

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centurion

The horse drawn tram looks much like a conversion of the passenger section of one of the 2 Government Road Trains introduced to the Grand Trunk Road in 1870 by Col Crompton ( much later associated with the early development of the tank) These were pulled by early steam traction engines but the solid rubber tyres used to stick to the road. If the road wheels were removed and tram wheels fitted they would look very like this vehicle

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kevinrowlinson

Quote, "Possible but there is no evidence of Holts being used in India at this time"

Sorry I wasn't aware that you had read the various ASC MT Coys diaries in India for 1919. What were they using?

Merry Christmas. Kevin

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centurion

Quote, "Possible but there is no evidence of Holts being used in India at this time"

Sorry I wasn't aware that you had read the various ASC MT Coys diaries in India for 1919. What were they using?

Merry Christmas. Kevin

At this time = WW1

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kevinrowlinson

Who said the photos were taken during WW1?



Kevin


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Viscount 802

Mmmmm ..... seem to have started a minor controversy here. While I cannot settle any Mesopotamia v India NWF debate, my thoughts having looked harder at the original photos during scanning and digital cleaning then viewers will have.

Kevrow. Your link to the photo of Avro 504K H2278 was interesting and worked. However, in my experience of working with RAF aircraft histories of WWII and post WWII, it was rare for consecutive aircraft registrations to be allocated to the same unit. Also H2278 is wearing 28 Sqdn colours (the bands around the engine), while the photo posted of H2277 does not have any such Squadron colours. So, sorry, I don't subscribe to the same location in India theory. Someone, somewhere probably has the AM file card history for H2277 with the units recorded, but are they looking at this post? As Avro 504s are a very big topic individual histories have never been published (to my knowledge) either on paper or on the web. I'll see if the Avro Historians group can help, I'm sure they will appreciate seeing the photo too.

Kevrow. Interested in following-up the Lt George Arthur Baker link, however when I use the link I don't get any images, just an archive reference page similar to that with the Avro 504, but no images. Do I need to join or get IWM accreditation to view?

As for the Afgan location for Alimasjid, I wonder as there is no village or fortification infrastructure shown on the photo, if it is simply a local name for that area of hillside. In 90 years and now in Arabic, very likely changed spelling on any modern map.

As for the identification of theatre and date, there are very few clues on the images. My identification of Mesopotamia revolves around the very clear photo of Samarra railway station (photo 15). The date is provided on the side of the same image - looks like 1912, but 1919 also fits, with the two '9s' written in slightly different styles. The image showing Turk prisoners (photo 13) works well historically for Mesopotamia in winter 1918/1919. The rivers also work as the Tigris/Euphrates for me, but could well be elsewhere. The relaxed look of the troops when out on the road, again works for the period of Mesopotamia peace, late 1918 to 1920 (as also evidenced in photo 6).

My interpretation of the Unit loading up on railway wagons for a field exercise, could well be the Unit loading up for the first leg of transport to India and the NWF. However it is odd that the photographer took no shots at the Port loading onto ships, or on the voyage, or perhaps he was forbidden use of his camera, or even ran out of film stock!

The photographs are not uniform in size or edging style, so are clearly not all developed at one time. Taking quality and edging into account, does not absolutely help the two locations theory. Majority of prints are near 2 x 3" in size. All the photographic paper used looks and feels similar.

Same size b&w, black edges: 1 (Avro 504), 2, 3, 4, 6 (gun crew), 18 (Alimasjid), 26, 27 (trucks off road), 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 (tourist scenery, rivers etc). These prints are still in good nick despite their age.

Same size b&w, white edges: 9 (Holt on flat land)

As above, but sepia: 5 (Howitzer), 8, 10, 11, 12 (Holts on flat land), 16, 17 (loading train), 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 (in mountainous terrain), (Print 11, image cut down with scissors, so no edging)

Just a little larger and fading sepia: 13 (Turk prisoners), 14 (Bogged down truck), 15 (Samarra), 28 (fort)

Same but different edge pattern: 30 (horse drawn tram), 36, 37 (tourist shots)

Slightly larger again, very faded sepia: 7 (Officer? posing with a Holt), 29 (tourist)

Presumably the sepia is due to poor quality chemicals/faulty dark room work, rather than being marginally older than the better quality black & whites.

Doesn't really help me sort out any sequence, although the 692 Coy MT ASC truck stranded down a rocky hillside maybe a different occasion to the Holts on rocky hillside terrain. The two photos used as date & place evidence are on the same style of print, so likely the pictures are close together timewise. On the same basis though Samarra and the horse drawn carriage could be close together timewise; although the loading of the train and Samarra Station are likely not at the same time.

Unfortunately I cannot just now dig out my 1930s Phillips Atlas to find where the railway through Samarra connected to.

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jay dubaya

692 Coy were certainly in India October 1920, I have a reference to a a/Lieut Colonel AM Wilson DSO becoming the OC of 692 coy

Moberly's 'The Campaign in Mesopotamia' lists 8 caterpillar MT Coys from November 1917

788 Coy

789 Coy

901 Coy

902 Coy

all served with the 1st indian Army Corps (HQ Samarra)

903 Coy

967 Coy

968 Coy

969 Coy

all served with the 3rd Indian Army Corps (HQ Baquba)

I think that I can also link these companies to their respective 'batteries' should there be a need

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kevinrowlinson

Brian,

Quote, "Kevrow. Your link to the photo of Avro 504K H2278 was interesting and worked. However, in my experience of working with RAF aircraft histories of WWII and post WWII, it was rare for consecutive aircraft registrations to be allocated to the same unit. Also H2278 is wearing 28 Sqdn colours (the bands around the engine), while the photo posted of H2277 does not have any such Squadron colours. So, sorry, I don't subscribe to the same location in India theory. Someone, somewhere probably has the AM file card history for H2277 with the units recorded, but are they looking at this post? As Avro 504s are a very big topic individual histories have never been published (to my knowledge) either on paper or on the web. I'll see if the Avro Historians group can help, I'm sure they will appreciate seeing the photo too.

Kevrow. Interested in following-up the Lt George Arthur Baker link, however when I use the link I don't get any images, just an archive reference page similar to that with the Avro 504, but no images. Do I need to join or get IWM accreditation to view?"

I know nothing about the distribution of planes during the war to the various squadrons, or about the squadrons themselves, but thought it may be interesting if H2278 happened to be in the same squadron. I also do not know how many or which squadrons were in India and Mesopotamia during the war or whether the subject has been researched. As you say someone may know which squadron H2277 belonged to, but without them seeing this thread then the only way to find out is for someone with an interest in this area is to research it.

The photos in the link of Lt. G A Baker are held by the IWM so a visit there would have to be arranged. Unfortunately they haven't made all what they hold available on line.

My interest in the photos were primarily the shots of the battery that is being moved, but anyone who had a relative serving in the ASC ( assuming the photos were taken by one of its members) or the battery in this theatre would, I am sure, find them very interesting. If some, if not all, the photos were taken by the one person (perhaps he exchanged a few with a fellow photographer) and assuming he was in the ASC I see no reason why he may not have served with one, two or three different ASC Coys. If some of the photos were taken during 1917/1919 while in Mespot then it may be possible that the ones taken in the NWF (if that is where it is) are after that date and when the man was posted to 692 MT Coy from base depot Basra on the return to India.

The diary of 692 Coy would answer a lot of the questions, if certainly not all, with the possibility that the photographer may have been posted to or from it at any point in time. Having seen many, many gunners records it was very unusual for a man to stay with one unit in the Mespot theatre mainly due to health related issues and being hospitalised. I personally would be surprised if it was different in the ASC. If anyone wishes to research this further then I would also suggest looking at 778, 901 and 902 Coys ASC.

A very merry Christmas. Kevin

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Hywyn

Is there any merit in working back from Gill Heyes e.g could they be linked to his parents generation. Finding some service records might provide some answers(accepting that the longer it goes after the war the less the chance of there being available records.)

As an example. Arthur Heyes ASC M/285849 of Bare, Morecambe (and links to Bolton) was in Mespot July 17 to May 1920. He was discharged July 1920 with a cracked skull. In April 1920 he is in hospital in Bombay with this cracked skull and is shown as RASC attached 39 C F A. I will not pretend to know what 39 CFA means in terms of these photos. I only provide this as an example of taking this angle.

Or maybe he's linked via family to a local photographer, wherever local might be. A bit of research then into that photographer might show local newspaper items/articles of his work abroad.

Hywyn

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Viscount 802

I'm going to unashamedly 'bump-up' this five year old thread of mine, as the images posted are now 100 years old, as the only dated photo is labeled 1919 and another shows an event likely winter 1918/19 with a column of Turk prisoners.

 

After the responses to the initial posting of these photographs, I discovered that a daughter of the gentleman you gave me these photos, (along with some WW2 destroyed Luftwaffe in North Africa pictures), lived locally.  She recalled her grandfather (who would have been the WWI generation) but he never talked about his WW I military service or which theatre he was in.  Her mother does not recall anything about her husband (Gill Heyes) father's military service either.  Gill Heyes, who gave me the photos had already passed on.  How important these things become once the generation that can answer them (although likely reluctantly) have passed on.  So not unexpectedly a research dead-end, but a suggestion which was worth pursuing.

 

From handling the original small prints (which I still have), although the print quality varies, I do feel they were likely taken in a relatively short time span and in the same theatre of operation, which the photos themselves or the very few which are captioned, show to be Mesopotamia 1919.

 

I'll try and replace the images via a host other than Photobucket in the next couple of days to get rid of the watermark.  It still amazes me that I have an anonymous tatty envelope containing photos now provably 100 years old.  I'm just delighted to be able to share them here and reinvigorate this 'sleeping' thread.   While the Seige gun crew depicted will never be identified, I think of these images here as a small memorial to their endeavours one hundred years ago to establish peace from a world war.

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charlie962

Hadn't spotted these excellent photos before so thanks for the bump-up; Did you identify Gill Heyes's fathers full name/DoB and military service ?

 

Charlie

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JulianR

I have seen a picture of Indian Army troops on a horse-drawn tram in Baghdad.

 

Julian

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charlie962

In 1916 the station at Samara was a railhead. The line towards Tikrit and Mosul was built after this either by Turks or British - who didn't capture area until mid 1917.

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JulianR

I have asked a few friends of mine and here are one set of observations/comments.

Image 30 is of the horse-tramway between Baghdad and Shalchiyah. For comparison, there is an Imperial War Museum image taken in 1917 that is reproduced in Hugh Hughes’s Middle East Railways book.

Image 17 wagons show a hint of side buffers which would indicate standard rather than metre gauge. That would be consistent with Image 15 as the only standard gauge under British control in 1918 was the Baghdad – Samarrah section of the Baghdad Bahn. My reservation would be the absence of any personal weapons amongst the soldiers and the relative complexity of the telegraph pole behind the wagons, which suggests a more settled and developed location (India?) rather than a recently captured and then still unsettled enemy city.

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IainAlexander

Gents,

 

The 'Official Account of the Third Afghan War 1919' on Page 79 says that 1 Section 60 Battery RGA equipped with 6-inch howitzers and tractor-drawn was sent to reinforce Ali Masjid Fort in the Khyber Pass area in July 1919 and went into action in September 1919.

 

I think that information fits with Images 18 et al and confirms the NW Frontier location for some of these images

 

IainAlexander

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JulianR

The Samarra photo also has a sign that starts R T so probably for the RTO's office.

 

The picture of all the Army wagons on train appears to show numbers or letters on the side of the railway trucks.  Would it be possible to get a high res scan of that photo to see if we can read the lettering?

 

Thanks

 

Julian

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IainAlexander

Image 30 - here is one of the Imperial War Museum images - Ref Q25318 - of this tramway

Baghdad tram IWM Q25318.jpg

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IainAlexander

This thread might be better located in the India section of the GWF – whilst some images are definitely from Mesopotamia, the bulk seem to have been taken on the NW Frontier in 1919 during and just after the Third Afghan War. I am not an expert on that conflict but the following is offered as an explanation of the photos based upon the ‘Official Account of the Third Afghan War’ published by the Government of India in 1926. A pdf copy can be downloaded from:-


http://pahar.in/wpfb-file/1926-third-afghan-war-1919-official-account-by-army-hq-india-s-pdf/ .

.
Mesopotamia photos include the railway station at Samarrah (Image 15) the Baghdad horse tram (30) and the al-Kadhimiya Mosque in Baghdad (36). Photo 29 is also probably from Iraq.


Frontier clashes on the Afghan frontier began in April 1919 and the Indian Army mobilised for war in May 1919. Included in that mobilisation was 60 Heavy Battery RGA with 6-inch howitzers that moved from Roorkee which is North of Delhi to Peshawar on 20 June 1919.


The Motor Transport unit was probably moved from Karachi to Peshawar on the North Western Railway of India. I think photos 16 and 17 may be Karachi with photo 31 definitely the Attock Bridge over the River Indus. The motor transport was probably paired up with the 6-inch howitzer guns of 60 Heavy Battery RGA at Peshawar or at Jamrud which is the end of the railway line toward the Khyber Pass.


About 18 July, it was decided to reinforce the garrison at Ali Masjid in the Khyber Pass and the 6-inch guns were called forward, hauled by the Holt tractors.


Officially the war ended on 8 August 1919 but there was a desire to punish local tribesmen who had sided with the Afghans and so, on 13 September, a British attack began on a tribal stronghold at Chora. The Official Account notes that 6-inch howitzers were hauled forward on a specially-prepared 3 mile road converted from a mule track to support this attack.
My belief is that Photos 2-12 and 18-28 show the movement into the Khyber Pass, the encampment at Ali Masjid and the approach march of the guns to support the attack at Chora.


This explanation is speculative but could be checked by accessing the war diaries of the likely units (60 Heavy Battery, ASC MT Companies and IS&M Companies) all of which are in the National Archive’s file WO95/5390 – North-West Frontier Field Force - Corps Troops. That WO95 file should also confirm the identity of the MT company involved and whether it was already in India (possibly on the way back to the UK for demobilisation) or whether it was called re-deployed from Iraq for the Afghan War..


Note that the ‘Official Account’ has text and good maps but no photos. On-line images of Ali Masjid do exist on the IWM and National Army Museum websites and in the Randolph Bezzant Holmes collection at Duke University – see http://exhibits.library.duke.edu/exhibits/show/holmes/http---example-com-exhibits-sh/http---example-com-exhibits-sh

 

The 'Official Account' also lists the RAF squadrons that supported this action if someone wants to look further into the aircraft photo.

 

I hope this explanation offers a possible fit with the images

 

IainAlexander
 

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charlie962

Good stuff, and clever photo IDs, Iain.

Charlie

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JulianR

WO95/5390

60 Heavy Battery Royal Garrison Artillery (1919 May - Aug).

14 Field Company Sappers and Miners (1919 May - Dec).

15 Field Company Sappers and Miners (1919 May - Dec).

58 Field Company Sappers and Miners (1919 May - Aug).

67 Field Company Sappers and Miners (1918 Aug).

Faridkot Imperial Service and Miners (1919 June - Nov).

Maler - Kotla Imperial Service and Miners (1919 June - Oct).

Sirmur Imperial Service and Miners (1919 June - Dec).

26 Railway Company Service and Miners (1919 May - Nov).

27 Railway Company Service and Miners (1919 May - Dec).

28 Railway Company Service and Miners (1919 May - 1920 Feb).

4 Pontoon Park Sappers and Miners (1919 July - Sept).

6 Pontoon Park Sappers and Miners (1919 July - Sept).

2 Signal Field Park Sappers and Miners (1919 June - July).

Corps Signal Company (1919 May - Aug).

3 Wireless Signal Squadron (1919 May - July).

Corps of Gurkha Scouts (1919 May - Aug).

2/12 Battalion Pioneers (1919 May - Sept).

2/81 Battalion Pioneers (1919 June - 1920 July).

2/34 Battalion Sikh Pioneers (1919 May - Sept).

3/34 Battalion Sikh Pioneers (1919 June - Dec).

Advance Ordnance Depot (1919 July - Sept).

1028 Mechanical Transport Company ASC (1919 May - July).

630 Mechanical Transport Company ASC (1916 - 1918).

656 Mechanical Transport Company ASC (1919).

692, 693, 694 Transport Company ASC (1915 - 1918).

871 Mechanical Transport Company ASC (1917 - 1918)

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