This blog is a companion to the Database of Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Life in Egypt, and other places, with the AIF

Unknown Album, circa 1914-1918. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Collection.

The photo above was contained on page 42 of  a photograph album by a mystery photographer who took his camera with him when he enlisted. The photographs are not necessarily in chronological order.  They depict life in Egypt, Lemnos, and Gallipoli and Broadmeadows. The SLV catalogue entry describes the album thus:

Album, containing annotated photographs depicting scenes in Egypt, Gallipoli, Lemnos and Malta. No indication of the compiler's or photographer's name is given. Photographs include men in the 6th, 7th, 8th and 14th Battalions; the 7th and 8th Battalions leaving Mena for Ismailia (1915); the crossing of the Panama Canal on the transport Jaika (Dec. 1918); troops on the Minnewaska en route for Gallipoli and on the Osmanick at Gallipoli; the terrain, and men in the trenches.

There is no provenance given with the album, and the best guess from me is that the soldier served originally with 14 Battalion in A Company and later moved to 8 Battalion, and probably as a cook.  Not all photos are captioned, but some of the groups that are mention that they are cooks.  

I checked all the names mentioned in the album against my database of men from Essendon and Flemington, and the only one I found was Herbert Troy Swindells, whom I thought was probably the Bert Swindles mentioned in the caption above.  He had been a trained baker when he enlisted.   His service record doesn't indicate whether he served as a cook in 8 Battalion, but it is possible he did.  The only other man I could identify in the photo is "Bert Glangell", whom I think was
William Henry Herbert Gangell who also served in 8 Battalion and who was also a baker when he enlisted.  

It is not entirely clear when the photo was taken - it appears on a page where other photos were taken at Broadmeadows, Zeitoun and Mena, but given the sand underfoot, probably it was taken in Egypt.  8 Battalion had two periods in Egypt, in 1915 before the landing at Gallipoli, and in 1916 after the evacuation, so it is not entirely clear when it was taken.

It is an interesting album to browse through, showing ordinary aspects of camp life, such as in the image below:

"Fight.  Mena."


  1. Hello - I've just found your blogspot and I can confirm that Bert Glangell is my Great Grandfather William Henry Herbert Gangell as you have mentioned.

    Can we please get in contact, I would love to get a copy of this photo?

  2. Hi Emily, you need to do more exploration of what is in front of you. My email address is in my profile. Secondly, there is a link to a page on my website for Bert Swindells, where you will find a better copy of the photo in the blog, with a link to the exact photo in the State Library collection. The SLV have changed the link since I did the post in September 1917, so I will fix that up. If you go to the photo at the SLV, you can click on "Go To Catalogue Record" which will give you all the known details, and also you can download copies from the SLV. I don't own any of the photos on my blog or website. You and everyone should assume that if you follow the links on the blog, there will be more information on the website.