Group of officers of the Burmah Expeditionary Force on board the "Tenasserim", which left Madras on 3rd Nov, 1885, and arrived at Rangoon on the morning of 8th Nov, having on board 4/1 RA and Q/1 RA
Photographer: Hooper, Willoughby Wallace (1837-1912)
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a group of British officers on board the S.S. Tenasserim, taken by Willoughby Wallace Hooper in 1885. The photograph is one of a series documenting the Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885-86) made by Hooper while serving as Provost Marshal with the British army. On 3 November 1885 he left Madras (Chennai), in India, on board the Tenasserim with troops of the Royal Artillery and arrived in Rangoon in Burma (Myanmar) on 8 November. Hooper was a dedicated amateur photographer who also worked in collaboration with an army veterinary surgeon, George Western, and his subjects in India had included ethnographical studies, the life of the British, and the Madras famines of 1876-78. The Burma war series of photographs is considered “one of the most accomplished and comprehensive records of a nineteenth century military campaign”. They were published in 1887 as ‘Burmah: a series of one hundred photographs illustrating incidents connected with the British Expeditionary Force to that country, from the embarkation at Madras, 1st Nov, 1885, to the capture of King Theebaw, with many views of Mandalay and surrounding country, native life and industries’. There were two editions, one with albumen prints, one with autotypes, and a series of lantern slides was also issued. A political scandal arose following allegations by a journalist that Hooper had acted sadistically in the process of photographing the execution by firing squad of Burmese rebels. The subsequent court of inquiry concluded that he had behaved in a “callous and indecorous” way and the affair raised issues of the role of the photograph in documenting human suffering and the conduct of the British military during a colonial war. The war culminated in the annexation of Upper Burma on 1 January 1886 by the British and the exile of King Thibaw (reigned 1878-1885), the last of the Burmese kings, and his Queen Supayalat, to India.