The officer Craufurd wasn't in GCR, though he was in the Sudan. In my assessment his presence indicates that this isn't a forgery, but at the same time also suggests that it wasn't taken where it purports to have been taken. Craufurd was a SSO (listed as such in Colvile and his subsequent AL entries - I looked at 1895). Quite what his job was I couldn't presently say - though for want of time I haven't embarked on a full scale hunt for him in my library. For that reason and because you don't just take one team photo and have done with it, when you are in a setting where history is manifestly being made around you, (where are the rest of the set?), I don't believe that this was taken at Gubat.
Another supporting reason for the assessment is precisely the fact that at least one red coat, (possibly two), is being worn. It wan't just Gleichen who found Maj. Bill Poe's red coat worthy enough to write about. It was a remarkable thing to do in the face of the enemy, suggesting by extension of course that this isn't in the face of the enemy. There are a number of officers missing who would one expect to be present if it was at Gubat - the other Dawson brother, Lt Col Bonham and Lt White of the RMLI. Additionally one or the other of Lt Col Sir Wm Gordon-Cumming or Lt Robert Wolrige-Gordon is also missing. The Gordon part of the caption having been fluffed in some way, my guess is that that's Wolrige-Gordon. Sir William was probably having a game of bacarrat with the duffers in HCR somewhere! [To be serious....I say that because the 'Gordon' here looks like quite a youngish bloke, hence more consistent with a lt than a lt col]. There is however a lurker....a fifteenth officer where only fourteen are named. I would guess at a junior guy...so of my list of candidates perhaps White of RMLI.
The gentlemen of GCR are substantially unarmed....not very likely I feel at Gubat where there was an expectation of major attack at any moment. Finally Melton Prior made his living by scribbling and sketching not by photography. If any one of the warcos with the Desert Column had a camera we would know about it (or at least I flatter myself that I would!).
This has been taken because a group of officers notable for recent deeds of dering do have met up with a camera and spotted the opportunity to have the composition of the brotherhood recorded for posterity. As is always the way in soldiering no regimental officers mess remains consistently composed for very long....leaving aside the other obvious omissions, the CO. Boscawen, evacuated sick with fever, the adjutant Charlie Cruthley, evacuated minus a leg unhappily, and Dr Magill, evacuated with a hole in his anatomy acquired at Abu Klea.
If asked, I would place this during the retreat. The furthest forward I would conceive of is Jakdul Wells on the way back. If I had to bet my pension on something, I'd go for Korti. Further back than that...also distinctly possible. There were stone redoubts everywhere. This was a big war in the age of professionalisation remember and gone were the days when a chap could sit around in his tent enjoying the sun without building a socking great defence work of some kind. Of course for the reasons to do with composition of the group already described, there is no way on earth that this was taken on the way forward.
I agree with jf that year and dress are consistent and that the place to look for the original is most likely the Guards Museum. I wouldn't rule out the possibility that those are not greys but a new issue of khaki. I believe that Craufurd is wearing corduroy breeches, as is Romilly on the right frame, but that D'Aigular does not have on breeches but something which exactly matches his frock. It is possible that the only man in an original grey frock is Eyre Crabbe. Faced with the choice of betting my pension on whether Gleichen is wearing red or blue (working only on the colour as we see it), I'd try and wriggle out of the bet. Fred Romilly is in red.
There is nothing exciting about the red coats (or coat). It is recorded history that GCR carried its red coats in its zuleetahs and that individuals did start wearing red coats on the way home, as their greys wore out or became too grubby to be seen in polite company.
Charles Townsend is holding a souvenir shield. Am I seeing a couple of double-barrelleds in the right foreground?
Nice though....just not that far forward.
When somebody shows me the photo of Lord Charles Beresford waving farewell from the 'quarterdeck', as he liked to call it, of the Safieh, I'll believe there was a camera at Gubat. Until then I'll place greater reliance in the existence of unicorns.
Dr Mike Snook MBE psc