Sightseeing in Egypt
Wide black-and-white shot of men from the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, some on foot, some on camels, with their Egyptian guides in the desert, in front of the Sphinx and one of the Pyramids.
Egypt was not where volunteer soldiers from New Zealand and Australia expected to be sent to when they signed up. Dominion newspapers reported accounts of fighting in Belgium and France and the ANZAC troops, as they would come to be known, anticipated a long journey to England, the Mother Country, before being deployed along the Western Front. Instead, the men were sent to Egypt where they were stationed for training before the Gallipoli campaign between April 1915 and January 1916. Troops from New Zealand and Australia would remain in Egypt throughout the war and into 1919, participating in the fighting across the Middle East, particularly in Palestine.
The time the New Zealanders spent in Egypt was not restricted to the rigours of training or to the space of the army camp. Instead the men communicated in letters, diaries, and postcards written, or photographs taken or purchased, that tourism was a central component of their time in Egypt. This photograph of New Zealand soldiers sightseeing was taken in 1915, probably before the start of the Gallipoli campaign. Photographs like this, much like postcards, were sent home as evidence of the ‘great adventure’ being enjoyed as part of military service: travel, exploration, and sightseeing. Family and friends could look at these images and imagine, if not entirely understand, some of what their son or brother or husband was experiencing in the war. Further, official photographs of this kind of activity would be used as a form of visual propaganda to stimulate further enlistment.