[Photo Album]: British Navy Mobile Maintenance Unit India World War II
India, 1944. Near Fine. Oblong quarto. Measuring 9" x 12". String-tied brown cloth over paper boards. Contains 167 sepia toned or black and white gelatin silver photographs measuring between 1.5" x 2" and 6" x 8", with captions. Very good photo album with split board edges, wear and rubbing, with near fine photographs.A photo album kept by a British soldier stationed with Number 12 RAF (Royal Air Force) Mobile Maintenance Unit in India in 1944. The album is extensively captioned with different sections marked by titles written in calligraphy. It begins in Nainital (written "Naini Tal") with photos of the lakes and mountain ranges of the region. One photo of local men reads, "Coolies carrying wood down the mountain side. These men, quite small in stature carry huge loads; supporting themselves with their sticks." Another photo of two uniformed British men being pulled in a cab by local boys reads, "Allen and Dearden in a gharry. No motorized transport is allowed in Naini Tal." A photo of the album's creator in full uniform is captioned, "uniform had to be worn after eight o'clock in the evening." The unit was moved to a more permanent location at the C.O.S.M.O. Barracks (Combined Operations Signal Maintenance Officers) in Bombay at Sassoon Dock. Here the photos show "the crew" in group photos as well as the "coolies" who were employed at the station. The camp is seen here through candids taken of his colleagues lounging in a hammock, posing outside their barracks, and working outside with the caption, "always disobeying to be done." The city of Bombay is captured and laid out on a page titled, "Bombay Scenes," and shows the Taj Mahal Hotel, the Gateway of India, and the University clock tower. A photo of the Bombay Town Hall declares it was used as a "really tip top canteen for Forces." Another photo shows the "Breach Candy" swimming pool which was a "favorite haunt of servicemen." A large 6" x 8.5" photo shows the men enjoying a Sunday morning "orchestral concert" at the Bombay Y.M.C.A. in 1944.The people of India are depicted throughout in photos of "quack medicine women," "a carpet maker" in the midst of his work, and "street barbers," among others. One group of photos shows the marriage of "Mr. and Mrs. K. Emery" among uniformed friends and colleagues followed by the celebration of Christmas in 1944. The group also spent time in Srinagar and Kashmir in 1945, the region shown here in photos of the rivers, houseboats, and temples of the area. A few photos show an Indian pipe band marching through the city with a caption that reads, "the Maharajah has his own Army with a very up to date barracks." One photo of four men raising glasses is captioned, "VJ day, 1945." After victory was announced the unit stayed in India for post-war work throughout the rest of the year. Since this led to more leisure time the photos emphasize sporting activities such as rugby, field hockey, and watching Indian wrestling. The final pages are taken from the ship home and show the Suez Canal and passing a "Yankee Trooper" ship.An extensive collection of photography from a British soldier at the end of the war featuring sightseeing, soldier's barracks, and the camaraderie that close quarters in a war brings out. (Inventory #: 402393)
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