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SOUTH AFRICA; BOER WAR - MONCRIEFF, Lieutenant A. R., Royal Scots Greys.

Personal photograph album with accompanying manuscript notebook.

[Together with:] Manuscript notebook containing documentation for the album (both volumes numbered "2").

South Africa: August-October, 1902 Stock Code: 120114
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Royal Scots Greys in South Africa 1902

Fascinating, well-documented and vivid album of original photographs taken by a cavalry officer attached to a mounted infantry unit in South Africa after the conclusion of the Second Boer War (31 May 1902). Lieutenant Moncrieff was serving with number 4 troop, "C" squadron of the 12th Mounted Infantry, known as The Highland Company, and attached to the Seaforths. The notebook is informal and full of colourful detail of life in the field. Photograph number 1 shows Moncrieff posing casually outside a bell tent, riding crop under his arm, next to an image of his horse, a "typical Russian remount you have to dig your spurs in pretty hard to make them break into a trot"; his unit on parade ("at 12-45 the orderly trumpeter sounds the 'Feed', (which all the horses get to know 2 or 3 days after they arrive) whereupon they all together start neighing & squealing and 500 horses neighing at once make a considerable noise"; Boer prisoners of war at Beaufort West ("dirty & unkempt looking scoundrels"); another shows a Lieutenant Pawson and Moncrieff holding their cameras "as we were taking a mutual snapshot"); sports at Klerksdorp "a few days after peace was declared"; teams loaded up for the trek to Elandsfontein; arrival of the water cart in camp ("we often camped 2 miles from water, & when the water cart arrives, everyone stampedes to fill the cooking pots, black-drivers & privates, all mixed up"); regimental monkey and dog ("indispensable friends"); another officer (Captain Long) packing away his camera; bivouacs; the camp at Beaufort West ("it gives you an idea of the stones & dried up veldt you find there nice interesting country it looks, typical S. Africa"); picnicking near "Dielfontein Hospital" (actually Deelfontein), including an informal shot of "Col. Sloggett", later Sir Arthur Thomas Sloggett (1857-1929), surgeon-general to the RAMC; train loads of Boer prisoners ("returning up country for repatriation"); riding parties and other equestrian scenes; shots of pet dogs, monkeys and baboons, also "meir-cat & fox terrier"); fellow officers; the long trek across the Karoo; scenes six miles south of Worcester, Cape Colony; Hex River pass; "The Regt. Crossing the Buider River Breede River just before going through the Bain's Kloof Pass, it is this Drift that the 16th Lancers couldn't cross owing to the swollen state of the River"; Tweefontein; transporting wagons across river ("the men thoroughly appreciate it, you hear periodically roars of laughter from the bank"); trout hatcheries at Stellenbosch; four images of "Disembarking troops St Helena" - where Boer prisoners were held - showing men in slouch hats waiting in boats alongside a troop transport (the slouch hat came into widespread use during the Second Boer War); the album closes with "physical exercises aboard H. M. Transport Staffordshire". It is possible to trace Moncrieff's journey from Elandsfontein, just south of Johannesburg, south west, via Deelfontein and Beaufort West, to Worcester, near Cape Town - a trek of some 870 miles.

Alaric Rimington (or Rimmington) Moncrieff was born in Kensington in March 1880, third son of Sir Alexander Moncrieff (1829-1906), army officer and engineer, who had served with the artillery during the siege of Sevastopol. After attending the Royal Military College, Moncrieff was gazetted to the Seaforth Highlanders and sent out to South Africa. According to Hart's Army List for 1906, he "served in the South African war 1899-1902, and took part in the advance on Kimberley, the operations in the Orange Free State from Feb. to May 1900, including the engagements at Paardeberg, 18th Feb. - severely wounded; and the operations in Orange River Colony from May to 29th Nov. 1900 (Medal with three Clasps, King's Medal with two Clasps)". In May 1902 he transferred to the Scots Greys as a lieutenant. In June 1910, however, as a newly promoted captain, he transferred to the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, in which capacity he was still serving at the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914. He embarked for France the following month, as second in command of "C" Squadron under Captain Bridgewater, and was soon attached to his old regiment, the Scots Greys, with whom he was slightly wounded on the last day of October 1914 at Wytschaete during the First Battle of Ypres, where "'C' Squadron continued in action, pouring volley after volley into the advancing German infantry, until the troop leaders were forcibly restrained and ordered to retire" (Stephen Wood, Those Terrible Grey Horses: An Illustrated History of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, 2015, p. 162). Thereafter, Moncrieff served with the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons until the end of the war, gaining the temporary rank of Major in June 1918. As CO of "C" Squadron he won the MC near Èpehy on 1 December 1917, the citation reading: "for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in leading his squadron to the attack. Though his flank was exposed, and he was counter-attacked by large numbers of the enemy, he held his position throughout the day with the greatest courage and determination". Moncrieff's own account of this action in the regimental war diary notes that his squadron "advanced at a gallop a distance of about 3 kilometres - the last half of which was over a fire-swept zone". He is listed among the subscribers to Edward Almack's The History of the Second Dragoons: "Royal Scots Greys" (London 1908). In 2009 his medals were auctioned in London.

Moncrieff was obviously a keen photographer and his notebook includes references to cameras and time exposure and reflects his occasional frustration with an inadequate image. These photographs were clearly sent home with accompanying letters - obviously a fraught business, in one place he notes "3 photos belong to the spool which was lost in the Post Office" - and he has drawn on these when compiling the notebook. This is a wonderfully candid and revealing assemblage of active service photographs compiled by a distinguished cavalryman serving with a mounted infantry unit during a conflict that saw the British Army adapting to the fluid tactics of the Boers.

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Square octavo album (205 x 167 mm): original grey-green cloth over bevelled boards; notebook: dark red paper wrappers.


96 photographs (mostly 105 x 60 mm) window-mounted two to a page, drab green heavy stock card, linen tabs on thick card stubs; each photograph numbered in the album with a corresponding description in the diary.


Album covers a little marked, a few tears to wrappers of notebook, otherwise in very good condition.


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