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Two Photographs Albums from Iraq and Egypt, with Rare Post-war Snapshots.
Iraq and Egypt, 1946-1948 A pair of photograph albums spanning two years of duty in Iraq, with tours to Egypt and the Suez Canal Zone, of Royal Air Force officer W. Derek Wilson who served with the AHQ Iraq Command, Pay and Equipment Accounts Division. Together, the albums contain some 240 photographs pertaining to Wilson's post abroad, each with a detailed manuscript caption. Additionally, some 20 photographs illustrate the return passage via Malta, and 40 photographs show his wedding and home life upon returning to England. Oblong 8vo. string-tied albums measuring approximately 18,5 x 22 cm, brown cloth over brown patterned boards, with the officer's inscription to front pastedown. Photographs vary in size, the smallest measuring approximately 4,5 x 6 cm, and the largest 21 x 14 cm, the majority measuring approximately 8,5 x 6 cm. Some wear to boards, particularly at extremities, otherwise in Very Good Condition, crisp and uncommon snapshot views. With glimpses of indigenous life in Habbaniya, Mosul, and Baghdad, a desirable tour of the Egyptian pyramids, memorable scenes of remote military camps, colleagues and aircraft, this uncommon visual chronicle effectively illustrates the post world war years and final stages of British occupation in Iraq and the Suez Canal Zone. Wilson inscribes his first album, indicating that his departure from England had been in June 1946. Almaza, near Cairo was his first post, the Air Force Base and military camp seemingly one in the same at the time. A series of aircrafts are photographed as they arrived for service. Close proximity and regular flight service from an Anglo-Egyptian company, granted him the opportunity to visit Giza. The album includes snapshot photographs of the sphinx and pyramids, as well as views from Cairo and Heliopolis. At Habbaniya, a rare photograph captures four Sheiks in traditional dress mounting their horses for a customary race, the under-secretary of the State of Aïr being present for the event and seen in the foreground. To remember this post by, he further photographs his billet accommodations, fellow RAF officers, a flying boat aircraft having landed on the lake, and some city scenes. Lake Habbaniyah created a retreat-like reprieve from military duty with its pristine beaches. Christmas 1947 was spent at Habbaniya. Indigenous life in Iraq is best captured in photographs taken at a village called Abu Flais, situated near Baghdad. In the capital city he takes notice of the exquisite architectural ornamentation of the Al-Haydar Khana mosque and its minarets, as well as the ancient Assyrian Gate, and the statue of King Faisal I whose reign ended at the time of his death in 1933. Also at Baghdad, he embarks a small canopied row boat to cross the Tigris. Wilson and company make a journey though rugged mountainous terrain into northern Iraq, from Baghdad to Mosul, travelling through mountain passes between some camps on horseback. Describing the single winding road to Ser Amadia which pierces an endless vista of desolate hills, the officer counts 61 hairpin corners, the camp situated at an altitude of 6,000 feet. In the distance the indigenous village of Amadia is seen perched upon a rocky plateau. Views to illustrate his time of service in the Suez Canal Zone include rare camp scenes from RAF El Harma and RAF Kasfareet, the latter of which was the largest RAF unit in the area. Also uncommon are the photographs of the officer's club called Malcolm Club, situated on Egypt's Great Bitter Lake. A scant few photographs are taken at Port Said. [Despite the appearance of peace and harmony in these photographs, there was much unrest in the region at this time, which would only increase. The outbreak of the Second World War had stimulated the Iraqi economy, in particular domestic industrial production, by cutting off the ready supply of foreign goods. The influx of British troops provided an important market for local products, and the army directly employed a large number of Iraqis. British military occupation of Iraq continued until late 1947. However, the years following the Second World War were marked by instability and turmoil across the Middle East. Colonial powers retreated and social order gradually deteriorated, militant trade union movement began to challenge capitalism, nationalists and industrialists were at great odds, a resulting in a waves of strikes and a period of deep revolutionary crisis in the 1950s.] Royal Air Force Station Habbaniya, more commonly known as RAF Habbaniya, (originally RAF Dhibban) was a Royal Air Force station at Habbaniyah, about 55 miles (89 km) west of Baghdad in modern day Iraq, on the banks of the Euphrates near Lake Habbaniyah. It was operational from October 1936 until the 31 May 1959 when the British were finally withdrawn following the July 1958 Revolution. The base was extensive and included the Air Headquarters of RAF Iraq Command, maintenance units, an aircraft depot, an RAF hospital, RAF Iraq Levies barracks, the RAF Armoured Car Company depot as well as fuel and bomb stores. There were numerous billets, messes and a wide range of leisure facilities including swimming pools, cinemas and theatres, sports pitches, tennis courts and riding stables. It was self-contained with its own power station, water purification plant and sewage farm. Within the base was the Civil Cantonment for the civilian workers and their families and the families of the RAF Iraq Levies. Water taken from the Euphrates for the irrigation systems enabled green lawns, flower beds and even ornamental Botanical Gardens. After World War II the families of British personnel started living at Habbaniya and a school was started..
      [Bookseller: Voyager Press Rare Books & Manuscripts, ]
Last Found On: 2017-05-09           Check availability:      Biblio    

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