Well-compiled, and handsomely presented personal photograph and ephemera album covering service in World War I, at the Supreme War Council, Versailles, and at Chanak, 1922.1908-24 Stock Code: 132252
NotesFine narrative album recording the career, from school days to marriage, of Thomas Fairfax-Ross (1896-1960), with particular attention paid to his military career which took him from the Western Front to Chanak, via Versailles. The album opens, perhaps rather portentously, with a card embossed with the Royal arms, mounted recto on the front free endpaper in a window mount, with John James Ingalls poem Opportunity neatly typed on it: "Master of human destinies am I! Fame, Love and fortune on my footsteps wait". The album proper begins with Fairfax-Ross's last report from his prep. school Waihi in Winchester, New Zealand, and a letter to his mother accompanied by a letter of recommendation - present here - from his headmaster, Joseph R. Orford, "(late scholar, King's Coll., Camb.)"; "though his attainments are slightly below the average for his age, his willingness to learn, together with the fact that he is absolutely to be trusted in all things make it safe to ay that he will do credit to any school to which he may go". He landed at Felstead, a page of small page of photos, boxing for them at welterweight in the Public Schools Boxing at Aldershot in 1914. Commissioned in the Rifle Brigade in January 1915, with whom he served 1915-6, a few pieces of ephemera including a Wounded Officer's Kit label and a pencil sketch, "Portrait of T. Fairfax Ross in hospital at Amiens in 1915. Artist unknown"; a confidential order of the day recording the award of the Military Cross, while he was staff captain, 87th Infantry Brigade, for leading a column of mules to safety in "exceptionally difficult circumstances"; clipped paper silhouette of T F-R, dated 1917; mentioned in despatches certificate and 29th Division congratulations card signed by Beauvoir de Lisle.
In 1918 he received a special appointment to the Supreme War Council based at the Trianon Palace Hotel, Versailles, recorded in an excellent sequence of 40 large (c.105 x 145 mm) high quality images: portrait groups - Inter-Allied Staffs, British, French, Italian, American Sections; formal events - Lt. Gen. Sir Henry Wilson reviewing French troops, Foch being appointed Marshal of France, head of the Italian Section, Gen. di Robilant being presented with the Legion d'Honneur by Gen Belin; individual portraits - Foch, Tasker Bliss, head of the American section, Lord Milner, Pershing, "The Tiger" - Clemenceau; and tellingly, in view of the machinations surrounding the formation of the Allied Reserve, some wonderful informal images of small conspiratorial groups in conversation - "Lloyd George & A.J.Balfour. 'taking tea'", "A.J.B. and Sir Douglas Haig", L.G shares a table with the French Foreign Minister M. Pichon, "Sir Douglas Haig and Clemenceau outside the Council room". Associated is an invitation to a soirée at the British Embassy in the presence of the King, and the royal princes, and a sequence of photographs of a visit to the duc de Noailles at Mantenon, of the party Victor Cazalet, Sir Hereward Wake, Humphrey de Trafford, and Johnny Bevan, who during WWI worked with Dennis Wheatley and became a master of deception for MI5. Fairfax-Ross then joined the staff of Eric Geddes, Director General of Transport, who he accompanies on a tour of inspection across Europe from Cologne, via Brussels, Solingen, "The Hindenburg Line", Yrpes, Arras, and the Menin Gate, to Zeebrugge. This recorded over 4 pages in some 40 highly interesting photographs, largely in smaller formats.
A period of peace follows, and the pursuit of aristocratic recreation recorded on well arranged pages of snapshots: deer stalking and spinning for sea trout on the loch at the former estate of Lord Tweedmouth on Glen Affric, seven-page pencilled deer stalking "diary" on Tulchan Lodge Perthshire stationery loosely inserted; yachting and tennis during Cowes Week, 1920 at the Baring's Nubia House, of the party, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, Princess Mary, soon to be bright young thing Poppy Baring, and Edwina Ashley, later countess Mountbatten; a weekend at Dame Margaret Greville's Poleden Lacey with the Duke of York, Lord Cochrane, Lord Brecknock - "Self & Brecksy" - and Edwina Ashley; Charles Rhys's Coming of Age Party at Dynevor Castle; deer stalking at Glenveagh Castle, Donegal; an excellent large group portrait showing both sides for the inter-Rifles cricket on the veranda of the pavilion at Winchester, Fairfax-Ross was run out for 8 in the first and bowled for a duck in the second, the K.R.R.C. defeated the Rifle Brigade; and a spree in Cannes with Victor Cazalet, entrance tickets for Casino Municipal, "I made eight thousand francs the night before I left! The only time I have ever felt really rich!". Among these various entertainments is a single page referring to Fairfax-Ross's then posting, Adjutant 2 Bn Rifle Brigade, Ireland, a group portrait "Old Riflemen serving with the R.U.S.C. Co. Fermanagh" - a group of B Specials around Lt. Col. George Richardson, founder of the UVF - surrounded by snapshots of Strabane, including the unit's HQ in the workhouse, and two of a heavily armed Crossley trucks patrolling the mountains, manoeuvrings in the Irish War of Independence, and an overture for his return to action.
In October 1922 2 RB were deployed in Turkey in response to the Chanak Crisis, Fairfax-Ross accompanying them as adjutant, and serving the following two years, based at Chanarkly Canarkli Camp. Now little remarked in the history of the post-Great War settlement, the Chanak "Affair" brought Britain and Turkey to the brink of war, drove a wedge between her and her former allies; caused a crisis in the British government leading to the downfall of Lloyd George; and required a new understanding of the nation's colonial relations. Precipitated by Ataturk's determination following the capture of Smyrna Izmir, that "We must have our capital" by force if necessary, a conflict seemed inevitable: "The scene was like a film set for a battle. Two lines of trenches and emplacements, two fences of barbed wire. There was the enemy within sight there they were, the Turks, feeding and watering horses, putting up wire and digging, or just standing smoking cigarettes" (Walder, The Chanak Affair, p.270). As far as they went "hostilities" settled into a series of posturings and minor provocations by the Kemalist forces, met with admirable restraint by the British blocking force under the command of Charles "Tim" Harington. Harington ignored Lloyd George's instruction to meet the Turk's continued presence at Chanak with force, considering it to be both "foolish and dangerous" (ODNB), and insisted on continuing negotiations with Kemal's senior representatives "still with his government pressing him to take offensive action... within a week he had achieved success: agreement was reached that the Turks would withdraw. With fine courage, skill, and diplomacy, Harington had avoided what could well have become another major war. It would have been fought with neither allied nor dominion support". The Army remained in place to oversee the terms of the Armistice of Mudanya, and eventual hand-over under the Treaty of Lausanne. Fairfax-Ross's time there is recorded over 20 pages of images, unfortunately uncaptioned, and mainly in the smaller snapshot formats - probably reflecting the ad hoc arrangements in the camps. There are around 250 images offering a visual diary of the occupation; local villages and "types", the establishment of the camp, troops in landing craft and disembarking, shipping in the Dardanelles, visits to Turkish fortifications, individual and group portraits, regimental sports, parades, training exercises, &c. While far from professional and small in size, the photographs are well taken and printed, the apparatus was clearly of good quality, so the images reward inspection under a lens, and do provide a panorama of the British presence in this key "conflict", a visual record lacking elsewhere. The photographs are accompanied by two attractive ephemera, a regimental Christmas card from Chardakly Camp, cream card "folder", regimental badge embossed and in silver to the front panel, Rifle Brigade ribbon tie, half-tone image of the camp under snow within; and a manuscript menu for Fairfax-Ross's birthday in 1923, with mounted "saucy" clippings, and joking bill of fare. The sequence concludes with views of Constantinople; Fairfax-Ross and friends on the Bosporus in a launch flying the Turkish ensign, interiors and exteriors of the Topkapi Palace, Alexander the Great's sarcophagus, the Rumeli fortress; and images of his return trip through Austria by train and, apparently, 'plane.
Fairfax-Ross returned to Britain in 1924 - a two-page spread including an excellent small panorama by Gale & Polden records a review at Aldershot - and marriage to "Miss A.E.F. Chinnery" at Warnham, RB honour guard and reception in a marquee, printed order of service, page of snapshots of a honeymoon in Holland. The album concludes with a large group portrait of the officers of the Rifle Brigade (Gale & Polden), mounted verso of the rear free endpaper, and photoreproduced caricatures of Fairfax-Ross and his battalion commander Lieut.-Col. Hamlet "Ham" Riley by Amies Milner to the rear pastedown. In 1937 Fairfax-Ross was appointed lieutenant-colonel London Rifle Brigade, at the conclusion of the Second World War he had risen to the rank of brigadier, and the London Gazette of 3rd January 1947 recorded that Brig. Thomas Fairfax-Ross MC was promoted Honorary Colonel, 7th Bn. (London Rifle Brigade). An extremely interesting album, embodying a carefully curated narrative of "Opportunity" grasped and potential fulfilled, the material however sufficiently wide-ranging to offer scope to set Fairfax-Ross's story in wider historical contexts.
Landscape folio (270 x 355 mm) contemporary mid-brown morocco-grained skiver album for Asprey, gilt single fillet panel to the boards, initials to lower right-hand corner of the front board, all edges gilt, marbled endpapers, single gilt fillet to turn-ins, leather hinges.
30 linen-hinged heavy card-stock leaves, approximately 540 original photographs in a wide range of formats, perhaps the majority of them small Kodak "snaps" 2½ x 1½ in. (60 x 38 mm), but these mostly well composed and crisp; a large number in intermedia
A little rubbed and scuffed with a few scrapes, particularly to the lower board, otherwise very good indeed.
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