I’ve been exploring the world of photopgraphy recently – not least because I’m presenting a paper on Cherry Kearton and Frank Magee (two ‘official’ photographers of the campaign in East Africa during WW1) at King’s College London this week. Part of this exploration resulted in my earlier ‘Kodak moment‘.
For those who don’t know, Kearton is regarded as the forerunner of David Attenborough. He served in East Africa as part of the 25th Royal Fusiliers (Legion of Frontiersmen) and the Royal Naval Air Service. He was seconded to the latter to take aerial photographs in Maktau in support of the military forces. The first flights in Maktau are being commemorated in Kenya between 2 and 4 October 2015.
Frank Magee is the ‘writer’ who formed part of the Lake Tanganyika Expedition under Geoffrey Spicer-Simson which saw two boats – Mimi and Toutou – travel overland from Cape Town to Lake Tanganyika to wrest control of the water from the Germans. As a result of the British endeavors, the German ship von Gotzen was scuttled before being raised and seeing service as MV Liemba. The National Archives in London is having a family day on 3 October 2015 and there will be a display around the expedition at the 2015 OMRS Convention on 27 September.
Another exciting discovery as part of this journey into photography was the collection at RAF Hendon. It’s incredible what you can discover in the most unlikely of places – I certainly didn’t expect to find a 20-odd page handwritten report on the challenges of taking, developing and preserving photos in East Africa during World War 1. But I did… And to top it all off, was a visit to the Intelligence Museum at Chicksands with the Legion of Frontiersmen. Africa didn’t feature directly (other than references to the Anglo-Boer War and Egypt in WW2) but it did provide some insight into German cameras used during World War 1 and the type of image used for strategic and tactical purposes. What a little gem of a museum…
It’s all happening and due for publication in October are two exciting new books linked with the above events:
Maya Alexandri’s The Celebration Husband a fictional encounter featuring Lord Delamere, the Somali Scouts, mapmaking and aeroplanes during the first months of the Great War in East Africa
Great War in Africa Association‘s The Lake Tanganyika Expedition 1914-1917: A Primary Source Chronology which brings together all known (and accessible) primary source accounts of the expedition.