In this photograph we can see several soldiers connected up to machines from which they are receiving ‘Radio Electrical Treatment’. It is unclear exactly what this would have involved, but the typewritten label states that it would have been used to treat rheumatism and sciatica, among other conditions. It suggests that many of the Indian soldiers who were fighting for Britain in the First World War struggled with the difference in climate between their home countries and Europe, and suffered from acute joint and nerve pain as a result. Quite apart from being shot, blown up etc.
The Girdwood Collection
This series of several hundred photographs recording the contribution of Indian soldiers to the Allied war effort was produced in 1915 by the Canadian-born photographer Charles Hilton DeWitt Girdwood (1878-1964). As a professional photographer Girdwood had an early connection with India, photographing the Delhi Durbar of 1903, the royal tour of 1905-06 and the Delhi Durbar of 1911. In 1908 he set up a photo agency called Realistic Travels, specialising in stereoscopic photography.
With the outbreak of war in 1914, Girdwood returned from India and in April 1915 was given permission by the India Office to photograph the work of the Indian military hospitals in Bournemouth and Brighton. From July to September 1915 he worked in France as an official photographer to record Indian and later British troops in the field. In the later part of his time in France he also made ciné film of the campaign (which later appeared under the title With the Empire’s Fighters.
- Full title:
- The Dowsing Institute Radio Electrical Treatment [Brighton, England]. Photographer: H. D. Girdwood.
- Girdwood Collection
- Charles Hilton DeWitt Girdwood
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- Crown Copyright
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- British Library
- Photo 24/(9)
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