Asia - India & Aden

[ASIA - INDIA & ADEN] [RODBER, Alexander Bescoby] (1891-1974) [Album with Over 190 Original Amateur and Studio Gelatin Silver Photos and Five Printed Postcards, Documenting the Service of the 7th Battalion, British Royal Hampshire Regiment, Territorial Force, in India and Aden during WW1, Titled in Manuscript:] Views from India, sent by Pte. A.B. Rodber, 7th Hants Regt. whilst training with the expeditionary force during “The Great War.” Commenced Aug. 30th, 1914. Kathleen A. Rodber, Richmond, Yorkshire, Dec 25, 1915. Ca. 1914-1918. Oblong Quarto album (ca. 21x25,5 cm). 49 stock leaves (8 blank). With ca. 192 gelatin silver photographs, including six large studio photos ca. 15x20,5 cm (5 ¾ x 8 ¼ in); ca. 168 amateur and studio photos from ca. 10x15,5 cm (4x6 in) to ca. 4x5 cm (1 ½ x 2 in), ten amateur photos printed as real photo postcards, one amateur photo printed as a “Giant [real photo] Post Card” ca. 12,5x18 cm (5 x 7 ¼ in), and seven studio real photo postcards. Also with five printed postcards. Ca.

Twenty photos with period ink notes on verso or recto, over a dozen photos captioned in negative, several studio photos signed in negative (“Baljee,” “T.H. Bell,” “H.A. Mirza & Sons, Delhi”), two photos with ink stamps of “K.L. Jaini, Photo Goods Dealer, Meerut, U.P.” on verso; one real photo postcard with a blind stamp “Edwards, Lancaster” in the right lower corner. Period maroon quarter sheep album with red cloth boards, gilt-stamped "Album" on front cover; spine covered with pasted down black paper, likely because hinges cracked of original sheep spine. Binding soiled and rubbed on extremities, a few images mildly faded, a couple with minor creases or tears, but overall a very good album of strong interesting photos. Historically interesting vernacular and studio photographs, real photo and printed postcards, documenting the service of the 7th Battalion of the Royal Hampshire Infantry Regiment (British Territorial Force) in northern India, and Aden during WW1. The 7th Battalion served in India for the most part of the war, being stationed in Meerut, Delhi, and Ambala, and took part in the Aden campaign in January-November 1918 The album’s compiler was one of the Battalion’s privates, Alexander Bescoby Rodber (1891-1974) from Richmond, Yorkshire. Rodber served in the army until 1919 and received the Territorial Force War Medal in 1920. As follows from the title, the album was compiled with the help of his sister, Kathleen Alice Rodber (1888-1975) who put together all photos and memorabilia sent by her brother from India. One of the first photos has Alexander Rodber’s note on verso: “This is a photo of our Barracks. Please don’t destroy it as I am making a collection of the scenes and may want to claim it back again. Column barracks, Meerut.” The album covers Rodber’s service in 1914-1918, with interesting amateur photos of the battalion’s barracks in Meerut, interior views of military canteens, dormitories (featuring beds with mosquito nets), Rodber’s bungalows; numerous views of military camps, soldiers on the march, during reviews, parades, rest time, soccer games and boxing matches, hikes in the Meerut vicinity, etc. There are also interesting street views of Meerut, and Delhi, several railway stations (including the one in Ambala), railway bridges, local villages, temples, palaces, and portraits of the Indian people (families, peasants, workers at a cremation ceremony). With over 20 photos, real photo and printed postcards at the rear showing military barracks and sites of Aden. Some of the photos with manuscript captions: “This is G Company lines, being within a few paces of my bungalow”; “one of the camps we rested at on the march to this Station”; a group portrait of “our platoon;” interior of “A’s bungalow”; a company of marching drummers captioned “playing the boys off!”; a group of soldiers with “A. in the centre”; “the arrival of the 7th at Chahratee[?], note the transports which are pulled by with mules & oxen – horses being unable to stand the excessive heat of this country”; a portrait of A. Rodber in “Meerut, 1915”; a portrait of A. Rodber and his fellow soldier captioned “you are welcome to this. Note that I’m dressed in the garb of a cook – an entirely new occupation”; “A. – mountaineering”; “A’s favourite ramble when off duty; “Ambala Railway station”; “out on a mountaineering expedition. The “humpy” shouldered individual on the extreme left in myself;” “A native Divine Service held every Friday at Delhi;” a street scene showing Sadar Bazar in Delhi, captioned “very similar to some of the streets in Meerut. Notice that the roofs of the houses are fenced all around for the purpose of keeping goats and hens. It is more than a Whiteman dare do to walk down this street.” Some of the photos captioned in negative: “New Year’s Day Parade, 1915, Delhi” (2 different views), “Diwan-i-Khas, Corner view, Fort, Delhi,” “First part of Bath Fort, Delhi,” “Kashmere gate (front side),” “Market Bazar, Kasauli,” “Parade ground, Darghai,” “Jamnazam Barracks, Kasouli Hill,” “Memorial view, Cawnpore,” “Soldier’s Home Meerut,” “Monkey Temple Meerut,” “Semetery [sic!] Meerut,” “Church of England Meerut,” “Delhi Gate Fort, Agra,” “Hampshire Bde. Camp, Bulford, 1912, Collograph 29” (a real photo postcard), and others. Overall an important extensive collection documenting the history of the Hampshire Regiment’s service in India through the eyes of a young English private.


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