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Group. Lt. General Sir Saml. J. Browne & staff with Generals Macpherson, Tytler, Gough & Appleyard. Safed Sang.

Group. Lt. General Sir Saml. J. Browne & staff with Generals Macpherson, Tytler, Gough & Appleyard. Safed Sang.

Photographer: Burke, John

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1878

Shelfmark: Photo 487/(45)

Item number: 45

Length: 20.3

Width: 30.8

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph taken by John Burke in 1878, with a formal group portrait of British Army Officers, taken at Safed Sang in Afghanistan. Burke accompanied the Peshawar Valley Field Force, one of three British Anglo-Indian army columns deployed in the Second Afghan War (1878-80), despite being rejected for the role of official photographer. He financed his trip by advance sales of his photographs 'illustrating the advance from Attock to Jellalabad'. Coming to India as apothecary with the Royal Engineers, Burke turned professional photographer, assisting William Baker. Travelling widely in India, they were the main rivals to the better-known Bourne and Shepherd. Burke's two-year Afghan expedition produced an important visual document of the region where strategies of the Great Game were played out.

The Anglo-Russian rivalry (called the Great Game) precipitated the Second Afghan War. Afghanistan was of strategic importance to the British in the defence of their Indian Empire, and the prevention of the spreading influence of Russia. They favoured a Forward Policy of extending India's frontiers to the Hindu Kush and gaining control over Afghanistan. An opportunity presented itself when the Amir Sher Ali turned away a British mission while a Russian mission was visiting his court at Kabul. The British had demanded a permanent mission at Kabul which Sher Ali, trying to keep a balance between the Russians and British, would not permit.

British suspicions of the Amir's perceived susceptibility to the Russians led them to invade Afghanistan.

The officers in the photograph are General Samuel James Browne (1824-1901), General Sir Herbert Taylor Macpherson VC ( 1827-1886), General John Adams Tytler (1825-1880), General Sir Hugh Henry Gough (1833-1909) and General Frederick Ernest Appleyard (1829-1911). General Samuel Browne commanded the Peshawar Valley Field Force, and is seated in the middle of the semi-circle of officers, with crossed legs and a full white beard. General Macpherson commanded the First Infantry Brigade comprising the 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade, 20th Brownlow Punjabis and 4th Gurkhas. General Tytler led the Second Infantry Brigade comprising 1st Battalion Leicestershire, Guides infantry, 51st Sikhs. General Appleyard commanded the Third Infantry Brigade comprising 81st North Lancashire, 14th Sikhs, 27th Punjabis. General Gough led the Cavalry Brigade of the Kurram Valley Field Force, comprising one squadron of 10th Hussars, 12th Cavalry, 25th Cavalry.

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