Album of photographs depicting a trek from Rawalpindi to Razmak by the 1st Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps.

[North-West Frontier Province]: B. D. Arora & Sons, [1926] Stock Code: 115188
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An album of attractive professional photographs from the 22-day, 262-mile march from Rawalpindi to Razmak undertaken by the 1st Battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps in the winter of 1926, the images commencing with the crossing of the Khushal Gharh Bridge and subsequently depicting the battalion marching in formation past Gumbat, Lachi, and the Bahadarkhel Hills, across the Koram River, arriving at Bannu, crossing the Shinki and Tochi bridges and marching round the Razani Curve, before arriving in Razmak in heavy snow. "After the tribal uprising of 1919-1920, it was decided during the spring of 1922 to locate the main garrison of Waziristan at Razmak. The self-contained cantonment, capable of holding 10,000 men, was established in January 1923. New roads linking the garrisons and camps in the area were constructed to permit speedier troop movements" (National Army Museum, online). "The 1st Battalion, The King's Royal Rifle Corps, moved from Ireland to India in 1922 and, after three years stationed at Rawalpindi, was ordered to the Razmak district of North Waziristan on the North-West Frontier bordering Afghanistan. At 8.20 a.m. on 16 November 1926, on a brilliantly fine morning, 14 officers and 618 other ranks, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel F.G. Willan CMG DSO, marched out of their barracks in Rawalpindi en route to Razmak. Two officers and 80 other ranks accompanied the heavy baggage which was despatched by train. It took the Battalion 22 days to complete the 262-mile march, arriving at Razmak in a snowstorm on 8 December. The average distance marched each day was 14 miles with three rest days. The greatest distance marched in a single day was 20 miles on 1 December. On this day the Battalion waded ankle-deep across the Kuram River Setting an example to his men, the Commanding Officer marched the whole distance on foot stating that he was afraid that he might get stiff if he rode on his horse The Battalion spent a year at Razmak seeking to prevent the notoriously blood-thirsty Mahsuds and Wazirs from fighting. In November 1927 the Battalion left Razmak and went to Lucknow. Commenting on their tour of duty at Razmak, the Battalion's brigade commander wrote: 'The training and tactical efficiency of the Battalion is of a very high standard, due to the excellent supervision and instruction of an able commanding officer, backed by a keen and capable team of officers. The N.C.O.'s are well trained and know their jobs, with the result that the training of smaller formations is good. The men are fit and keen and move extremely well on the hillside. The efficiency of the Battalion in mountain warfare is excellent'" (Royal Green Jackets Museum, online).

These images, with the catalogue numbers 1 to 24, appear to be the first produced by this obscure studio, and are untraced in the India Office Records, which contain a selection of photographs signed Arora depicting military operations in the Wana Valley dated 1926-7 and a similar series dated 1933-6. There is possibly some relation to the R. C. Arora whose In the Land of Kashmir, Ladakh & Gilgit, a guidebook with a foreword by C. E. Tyndale-Briscoe, was published in Agra in 1940.

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Landscape quarto photograph album (197 x 250 mm). Original brown paper boards, front board with simple blind frame and decorative gilt wreath, ticket of Bartons' [sic] British Albums to the rear pastedown.


24 silver gelatin prints mounted rectos and versos to cloth-hinged stiff brown card leaves, all 158 x 210 mm and signed ("Arora"), numbered (1-24) and captioned, all in the image.


Provenance: laid-in photograph of an altar, inscribed on the verso "To Rfn [=Rifleman] Dix, A small token of gratitude for all his labour in the garden, from his sincere friend, E. H. [?] Razmak, 5/11/1927". Most plates faded to sepia but retaining their rich tonal contrasts, plate 1 slightly oxidized along bottom edge, plate 6 faded overall, occasional stronger fading largely restricted to the margins only.


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