Photographs of Soldiering in Colonial Hong Kong

By the 1920s personal cameras were small and cheap enough that the hobby of photography was open to a far wider cross section of society- including those in the military. Whereas most images of WW1 are either formal studio shots or pictures taken by professional photographers, within a decade a growing number of soldiers were taking informal pictures of their friends in relaxed everyday situations. Tonight we have a group of seven photographs taken in the late 1920s in Hong Kong by some of the British Garrison in this colony. Happily some of the photographs have descriptions on the rear with places and dates that help add a little context. First we have a shot of six men off duty outside their hut:SKMBT_C36415102712500_0001 - Copy (5)The back of the photo identifies the huts as being at Sham Shui Po and that the photograph was taken on 21st October 1927. Barracks were opened at Sham Shui Po on the Kowloon Peninsular in the 1920s, the two main buildings being known as Hankow Barracks and Nanking Barracks. The next photograph was taken on November 19th 1927 at Lo Wu:SKMBT_C36415102712500_0001 - Copy (4)The back of the photograph states ‘Dog Floss, Sgt Sinclair, Tailor and Myself’. The next image shows a man holding a large snake:SKMBT_C36415102712500_0001The back of the photo again indicates this was taken at Lo Wu and that the snake was five foot 6 long! The other four photos do not have any writing on the back, but came as part of the same lot and have the same black paper stuck to the back so I am assuming they are from the same time and place! The first is a relaxed shot of five soldiers in KD, with pith helmets:SKMBT_C36415102712500_0001 - Copy (2)The collar dogs look like they might be light infantry bugles, but which regiment they are is unclear. Note the long service and good conduct stripes pinned to the forearms of most of the men. The next shot is of a man, again in KD, standing in some sort of garden. He is wearing a white leather parade belt and carrying a swagger stick:SKMBT_C36415102712500_0001 - CopyThe penultimate photograph is of a number of men in tropical kit on a beach, presumably enjoying a little free time:SKMBT_C36415102712500_0001 - Copy (3)Finally we have a fascinating shot of troops with natives in traditional dress:SKMBT_C36415102713280_0001Unusually for these shots, one of the soldiers has 08 webbing on. These photographs are a fascinating window into a long forgotten part of life, with British troops being stationed around the globe to protect the interests of the crown in the colonies.

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