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Photo Album - WWI - Egypt Photo Journal
Egypt, 1916. Cairo, Alexandria, Jerusalem, 1916-1919. Photograph album of scenes compiled by a unidentified man while serving in Egypt with Royal Flying Corps during the First World War, features 150 thematically presented photographs. A few images are from Palestine. Photographs vary in size, the smallest measuring approximately 5.5 x 5 cm, and the largest 10.5 x 8 cm. Includes silver print gelatin, albumen and carbon print photographs mounted in a writing journal made by Eyre & Spottiswoode in London. In addition, there are some 58 photograph illustrating the officer's home life and RFC colleagues in England. 8vo. soft maroon cloth boards, original endpapers, volume measures 17.5 x 22 cm. Boards bowed, wearing to extremities, otherwise in Very Good Condition, a captivating collection of images from Egypt one hundred years ago. These images suggest that the compiler of this album associated with the Number 14 Squadron, which assisted Lawrence of Arabia in the Arab Revolt (1916-1918). "Indigenous life in the Near East" could very well be the title of this visual chronicle, which centers largely on Arabic tradition, customary gender roles, and the mysteriously veiled women, skilfully captured in arresting images. Seemingly unfettered by their abaya or the niqab unique to Egypt, Arab women are photographed fetching water from the Nile and carrying it in large terracotta pots, others are cautiously peering at the photographer through the small window of their garment. Especially rare however, are the images of European women donning forms of the so-called burqua in a fashionable manner, with jewellery, lace embellishments and classic heels. [In the early 20th century, the niqab was not a practice confined to Muslims. The niqab was worn by both Muslim and Christian elite women, an urban phenomenon which originated in Istanbul and was part of the harem tradition. At the time, wearing a face veil, or al-habara, was described as "a national Egyptian dress for upper-class women". Not long after these photographs were taken, however, in 1919 during Egyptian nationalist movement, upper-class women, both Muslim and Coptic Christian, protested the burqua, some walking in the city without the cover.] The men are generally photographed employing their trade, while some teach their sons the same, as with the young shepherd boy assisting his father near the pyramids. Most interesting is a man pressing garments by foot with a hot iron, ploughing crops with an ox-driven wood sledge, and other field work. Great use is made of various forms of carts, from selling tea or snacks, to general travel. Camels also prove most efficient for conveyance, as caravans cross the desert, the men leading afoot, and others are heavily laden with building materials. We also find pastoralist nomads, Bedouins fabricating a tent, and Berbers leading camel. Fascinating structures feature a beehive-like dome made of stones and mud, and a round dwelling made of vertical sticks. The album also yields firsthand snapshot images of World War I aircraft, including the popular Maurice Farman MF.11 Shorthorn, reconnaissance and light bomber used in the early part of the war. A simple wooden structure was erected for the aviation mechanics here either constructing or repairing the frame of a small aeroplane. Other men inspect crash sites of fallen aircraft, all of which would have certainly been disheartening. Also pertaining to military duty, men are seen crossing vast desert regions with select supplies and limited sustenance. Complete with some glimpses of ancient Egyptian civilization and the all important Nile, an early photograph of the sphinx of Memphis is featured. Having been discovered less than five years earlier, its foundation remains unaltered as it lays in its original state after excavation. [Also referred to as the Alabaster Sphinx of Memphis, and the Calcite Sphinx was discovered in 1912 when an affiliate from the British School in Egypt spotted a uniquely carved object jutting out of a sand hill.] A basalt statue and a large stele stand unprotected in open areas. Also included are views of the Great Sphinx and Pyramid of Giza, as well as a small village scantily covered by palms. Lovely photographs provide uncommon views of the tomb and mosque of Sultan Kait Bey, Mameluke sultan of Egypt, built in 1474 and situated in northeast Cairo. Colonial monuments include the statue of Ferdinand de Lesseps which was erected at the entrance of the Suez Canal on 17 November 1899, and the Kobri el Gezira Bridge with its two large lion statues, the bridge having been built in 1872, and later demolished in 1931. The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was one of the main squadrons operating in Egypt during WWI. They were based at a number of locations around the Suez Canal from 1915, keeping an eye on the Turks in Palestine and tribes in the Western Desert. Towards the end of 1916 their work involved assisting T.E. Lawrence ?'Lawrence of Arabia?'. The RFC had only been formed in April 1912 as the British military began to recognise the potential for aircraft as observation platforms. It was in this role that the RFC went to war in 1914 to undertake reconnaissance and artillery observation. The massive expansion of the British Army in late 1914 was reflected in an expansion of the Royal Flying Corps. Because of the shortage of both aeroplanes and trained pilots, new squadrons were formed as cadres of semi-trained pilots around a nucleus of pilots from RFC training squadrons. During WWI, the British saw an urgent requirement, primarily for pilots, and set up an extensive training system in Egypt. Training facilities were established in Ismailia, Aboukir, Abu Sueir, El Ferdan, and El Rimal. Initially, its recruits were from Britain, but as Britain's home training facilities began keeping pace with demand, the Egyptian schools took in local cadets, as well as some from South Africa. Although the output was mainly pilots, the No.3 School of Military Aviation No3, which had opened in November, 1916 at Aboukir, also initiated a school of gunnery. On 3 February 1915, Number 14 Squadron RFC was formed, and by autumn, when air forces were needed in the Middle East theatre of the First World War, it was deployed to Egypt. By mid-1916 the Squadron was operating in support of the Army advance across the Sinai. In late October 1916, "C" Flight was deployed to the Hejaz region of western Arabia in support of Colonel Lawrence and fighters of the Arab Revolt. Conditions and terrain were harsher in the Hejaz even than the Western Desert had been, nevertheless, in six months of operations, the Flight was able to provide valuable reconnaissance for Lawrence as well as carrying out bombing attacks on Turkish facilities in the Hejaz. The Squadron continued to support the Army advance through Palestine and onwards towards Damascus up until the Turkish Armistice which was signed at the end of October 1918, whence they returned to the UK. In 1919, during the rapid reduction of the RFC, the Squadron was disbanded, at least for a short time, until the newly-formed Air Force Board created a reduced-size RAF, keeping certain squadron numbers in recognition of distinguished wartime service. In 1914 as a result of the declaration of war with the Ottoman Empire, of which Egypt was nominally a part, Britain declared a Protectorate over Egypt and deposed the Khedive, replacing him with a family member, Fuad, who was made Sultan of Egypt by the British. A group known as the Wafd Delegation attended the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 to demand Egypt's independence. Included in the group was political leader, Saad Zaghlul, who would later become Prime Minister. In the wake of the British-ordered exile of revolutionary leader Saad Zaghlul, and other members of the Wafd Party, to the island of Malta, a tremendous nation-wide uprising occurred in Egypt in March and April 1919, known as the Egyptian Revolution of 1919, to protest British occupation of Egypt and Sudan. Riots were carried out by Egyptians and Sudanese from different walks of life, Much to the surprise of the British authorities, Egyptian women also demonstrated, led by Huda Sha?'rawi (1879-1947), who would become the leading feminist voice in Egypt in the first half of the twentieth century.. Very Good.
      [Bookseller: Voyager Press Rare Books & Manuscripts, ]
Last Found On: 2015-03-30           Check availability:      Biblio    

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