Robert Starmer Audas, Darfur
It is very strange to look at this vintage photograph (which is a large A4 size print mounted on card and captioned) and know my Great Uncle Robert Audas is the seated soldier on the left with the pipe. There are some other photographs of Robert Audas taken during his time as an Army vet in Egypt and the Sudan on the site, but this image is much more warlike. The photograph is not the best or sharpest quality, so was probably taken on a smaller camera and just enlarged beyond the negative’s limits.
It was taken at Jebel Marra in Darfur, Sudan, in March 1918. The native troops are all well armed with either swords or rifles or both. This area was in a constant state of unrest during WW1 (so nothing much has changed in 100 years then). Robert was involved in 1916 in the hunt for Ali Dinar who decided to side with the Turks, and in charge of all the supply animals going up to the front during the campaign. He was mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Military Cross for his service in this campaign. If anyone can tell me about the troops in the photograph (who look like they may have belonged to the Sudanese Camel Corps) I’d be very grateful.
Bizarrely despite the tribal war raging in the area now, the Sudanese government has a tourist website up inviting people to come and look at the beauties of Jebel Marra. I’m half tempted to email their enquiry page and see what they say.