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Arthur Cartwright World War I photograph albums


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Very little is known about Arthur Cartwright beyond what can be gleaned from these albums. Cartwright served in India during World War I in Company B of the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment (the 5th West Kents), a line infantry regiment of the British Army, and played the clarinet and cello in the band.

Cartwright was probably born in 1892 and he married Gladys Wilson in 1929 in Doveridge, Derby, England.1 It is unclear if Cartwright saw combat while serving in India, as many Territorial battalions spent the war on garrison duty and relieved the Regular battalions for front-line service. There are photographs of Cartwright and his fellow soldiers presumably training with machine guns and other large weapons, but there is no evidence from the photographs that Company B saw combat action.

1 "England Marriages, 1538-1973 ," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 21 October 2015), Arthur Cartwright and Gladys Wilson, 31 Dec 1929; citing Doveridge, Derby, England, reference item 7 p 172; FHL microfilm 1,751,994.

This collection consists of three photograph albums compiled by Arthur Cartwright, a British soldier who served in India under the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment, known in the albums as the 5th West Kents, during World War I. The first volume in the collection has the following typewritten description pasted onto its first page: "A collection of over 600 photographs of India between 1914 and 1920 taken by Arthur Cartwright (a distant relative I had never met). Arthur was in B. Company of the 5th West Kents and also played Clarinet and Cello in the 5th W. Kents Band. There are only 58 negatives (what happened to the rest?!) but some of these negatives have no matching photographs. Most of the photos are in three albums (two original) with events all described and individuals all named. There are also some photos loose with descriptions on the back." It is important to note that this collection does not contain any of the negatives mentioned in the above description.

The first photograph album which seems to focus largely on camp life depictions contains many photographs of the scenic hill landscapes of northern India, particularly Uttar Pradesh and Uttarkhand. The first section of the album also contains scenes of camp life (many in Khailar), portraits of soldiers and officers, and a few snapshots of the "regimental pets." Portraits of Cartwright's fellow "bandsmen" with their musical instruments are included in the volume. Images of local landmarks such as temples, churches and forts are included with visual accounts of excursions to Orchha, Jabalpur (then Jubbulpore), Murree and Agra. A newspaper clipping from 1916 describing a procession that took place for Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, is pasted onto one page along with captioned photographs.

Another neatly compiled volume has "Views of India taken by Arthur Cartwright" written on the inside cover, along with the dates 1914-1920. The next page shows a photograph of Cartwright in uniform with a black feather sewn onto the page. This album mostly contains photographs of various military camps and aspects of camp life. A group photo of the 5th West Kents captioned "Hill Detatchment- Ranikhet, India 1915" is followed by images of soldiers cooking, washing up and eating meals. A few pages of the album are filled with photographs of a fort, station, garden, and church in Jhansi. The album also contains a number of portraits of other soldiers in Cartwright's battalion. All of the photographs in this album are captioned in ink, with descriptions like "Hills & Streams," "Group of chaps in my Room- myself front row (second from left)" and "Our Camel Transport coming through Barian Camp."

The final album which appears to focus on sightseeing in Agra (possibly resulting from a band trip) consists of a lined notebook, the pages of which are watermarked by paper merchants based in Lahore and Amritsar. The first portion of this album is empty, but includes captions for photographs that have been removed from the pages. The second part of the album holds an image captioned "Our (Band) Carriage Travelling from Pindi to Jubulpore [sic]." This image is followed by scenic photographs and many images of landmarks in Jabalpur and Agra including the Taj Mahal, Fort Agra and the Tomb of I'timad-ud-Daulah. Thirty-two loose photographs at the beginning of this album were placed in a folder. They include a portrait of Cartwright later in his life and a black and white postcard of a couple, on the back of which is written "Me & Gladys just married" and, in a different hand, "Arthur & Gladys Cartwright". Most of the other loose photographs may have been removed from the first section of the album. Many of these photographs appear to have been trimmed to smaller dimensions.

On occasion, the same print can be found in more than one of the albums. These duplicate photographs largely depict fellow soldiers and Cartwright himself. Researchers interested in the British Army's experiences in India during the first World War will find this collection to be extremely valuable. Nearly all the people in the album are identified with Cartwright's captions and therefore, it is an excellent resource for historians of the 5th West Kents.

Sold by Kevin Jackson, 2010.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Rive Cadwallader
Finding Aid Date
2015 October 21
Access Restrictions

This collection is available for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

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Request item to view
Camp life depictions, undated.
Box 1 Folder 1
"Views of India", 1914-1920.
Box 1 Folder 2
Sightseeing in Agra , undated.
Box 1 Folder 3
Loose photographs from the photograph album relating to sightseeing in Agra (includes photographs from Cartwright's life after the Army), undated.
Box 1 Folder 4

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