Robert Starmer Audas
This is the fourth of the Audas brothers to fight during World War One, but Robert actually joined the army at a vet back in 1906 having become a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. There are two earlier army photographs in different uniforms which we are trying to identify. He spent three years in South Africa before being attached to the Egyptian army and being based there and Sudan (he spoke Arabic fluently) until he retired from military service in 1929. He then spent some years working for the Sudanese government before returning to Yorkshire in 1937 and retiring. He operated in Dafur for a time during WW1 and was awarded the Military Cross, but MOD records so far seen have redacted the details. He rose to Major and was also awarded the Order of The Nile just after WW1.
As a child, Uncle Robert’s military career was a bit of a mystery, and we were more fascinated by the relics of his days in Sudan. Camel saddles, seating made of lion skin, skulls of leopards, little matchboxes full of lion’s claws, a military drum and much more came back with him on the steamer. Some of these items have been given to museums, other bits remain with his Grandchildren. My personal favourites are small beaded and woven African coasters which I still use, carefully. Most of the papers relating to his veterinary work were donated to Durham University.
Robert never married, saying no woman would have wanted to put up with his army life! Once back, he lived with his sister in Bridlington for the rest of his life. He also shipped back piles of African hardwood he had saved up, and in retirement enjoyed making desk tidys, spoons, pipe racks, etc. out of bits, and having local carpenters fashion chests, etc.
The photographs below show Robert in his earlier army days, although we do not know which regiments these are. The more elaborate uniform looks like cavalry. We do not know where the photographs were taken but the studio back-drop looks identical in both, as does his hair, so perhaps both were done on the same visit. There is a photograph of Robert with camel corps troops in March 1918 on the site.