Omdurman, Khartoum and surrounding areas in Sudan: 1925-1927. 9¼” x 14½”. Steel two ring binder with faux leather flexible card covers. 56 pages with 305 black and white photographs adhesive mounted. Photos measure from 1¼” x 2” to 4¾” x 9”, with the average around 3” x 4”. 217 are captioned, though many are faint and ten are probably unreadable. Album good: front cover and all leaves detached; photos generally very good or better.
This album depicting Sudan in the mid-1920s was compiled by an unknown member of the British military who was there to assist in training the newly created Sudan Defence Force (SDF). It's filled with exceptional imagery of Sudan and its native peoples taken not long after political turmoil and violence in the area led to a drastic shift in Great Britain's approach to the country.
After World War I, anti-British sentiment in Egypt leached into Sudan. This led Great Britain in 1920 to create plans to replace Egyptian officials, officers and troops in Sudan with their British counterparts, as well as the creation of the Sudanese Army. Great Britain did not act on these plans until the situation reached a crisis in 1924: the Governor-General of Sudan was assassinated, and Sudanese troops in Khartoum mutinied. In response, in January 1925, the SDF was formed with around 140 British officers transferred from Egypt to oversee its formation and training. The SDF eventually totaled 6,000 men, all recruited locally.
Our compiler was one of those officers sent from Egypt to train the newly formed SDF. While we don't know his name, several of his fellow officers are identified by first and last name and the photos in this album likely begin in January of 1925. Approximately 100 photos are military in nature, with 70 showing Sudanese in uniform and/or training. One series of eight photos shows a newly built military installation in Khor Shambat, another series of five images shows a military parade and review in Shendi. There are many outstanding group photos, including a few showing new recruits. One shows the leaders of Number 2 Company in Shendi, in 1927, along with a British officer, and most of the men are identified. Number 2 Company (also occasionally called “Number 2 Squadron” here) can also be seen as a whole in a wonderful six shot series showing the men marching in square formation. Two gruesome photos are captioned, “the end of the ringleaders of the trouble in the Nuba Mountains to which No. 1 Squadron went on patrol.” Each shows a decapitated head, or heads, mounted on pikes. There's also an exceptional 5x7 portrait of a member of the cavalry and mounted rifles in Shendi's Number 2 Squadron.
The SDF's machine gun squadron (MGS) is also heavily featured with a couple dozen photos including training, drilling and on parade. There are also several shots of MGS members working mounted machine guns. The MGS is further shown in a series at a group of wells in the desert near Shendi hauling water for their horses and themselves.
An additional 100+ photos show native peoples. There's a great shot of four native women carrying baskets on their heads, another shows a family with their young child mounted on a pack mule; the mule is overloaded with baskets, blankets and jugs. Many show natives working with animals including shepherds tending to herds of goats near Khôr Gebel Gâm or watering horses in Shendi. One series is devoted to a day in Shendi and features the local populace as well as a horse show which includes shots of merchants, a parade, and camel races.
There are several 6x8 birdseye views of Shendi and surrounding settlements, a series showing Egyptian ruins at Naqa and the Bagarawia Oasis and scenes and homes around Shendi, including a mosque. There's a short series taken around Dinder Valley as well, including photos of thatched huts as well as the Sheikh of a local village.
There are approximately 42 camping/hunting photos where it appears our compiler joined a group of Sudanese men on a hunt. At least two images here show the men at a camp in Khor El Eiwad drying meat and making ropes while another shows them stretching and preparing a leopard skin. Others show recently felled waterbucks (a type of antelope) as well as a water buffalo, a lioness and crocodile. There's also a group shot of the hunters where our compiler has penciled a few of their names/nicknames on the photo itself including “The Old Camelman.”
A phenomenal collection with dozens of spectacular, action-filled images depicting Sudan and its populace soon after significant civil unrest in the mid-1920s. Good. Item #3652