Finsbury Rifles: Away from the Western Front, 23rd November 1916 – 12th December 1916

Lt-Colonel Stanley Cesnola Byrne (1872 – 1936)


Q57798 Lt Col SC Byrne at Bir El Mazar

Lt-Col S.C. Byrne at Bir-el-Mazar, February 1917

©IWM Q57798 Byrne, Stanley Cesnola (Colonel) collection
In May 1914, Major Stanley Cesnola Byrne was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and became the Commanding Officer of the 11th Battalion, London Regiment (the Finsbury Rifles). He had joined its predecessor, the 21st Middlesex Regiment as a 19-year-old 2nd Lieutenant and had seen action in South Africa in 1900. He remained Commanding Officer of the renamed 1/11 as it trained in England and embarked for Gallipoli in July, 1915. Enemy action and dreadful conditions in the trenches took their toll. On the 19th September Captain Windsor assumed command of the battalion when Lt-Col Byrne was sent to hospital. Although the battalion diary recorded that he was suffering from diarrhoea, it might well have been dysentery which was far more serious.
He re-joined the Finsbury Rifles in November 1916. As he had done in Gallipoli, Lt-Col Byrne produced an extended series of photos which record the day to day experiences of the battalion; guarding the Suez Canal, working with camels, manning the defence systems, celebrating Christmas and crossing the Sinai desert.
However, his health issues had obviously not been completely resolved. On the 11th March 1917, as a terrible sandstorm engulfed the area around El Burj, Major AH Windsor took over command of the battalion once more as Lt-Col Byrne left for England via Alexandria.
He did not return to the Middle East. Once recovered, he continued serving with the Territorial Force. After the war, he commanded the 5th City of London Battalion and after that, a Cadet Force until he retired from the Territorial Force in December 1932, aged 60.


Date 23/11/16

Routines as usual, also specialist classes. Work on defences. Lt Colonel SC Byrne TD rejoined and took over command of Battn. Lt Colonel H Windsor CMG relinquished command.

Date 24 to 25/11/16

Routines as usual, also specialist classes, work on defences.

Date 26/11/16

Routine as usual. Divine service.

Date 27/11/16

Routines as usual, also specialist classes, work on defences. Lt H G Landrock rejoined.

Date 28 to 29/11/16

Routines as usual, also specialist classes, work on defences. Lieut GS Kilby left for RJ6.

Date 30/11/16

Routines as usual. The remainder of the Battalion proceeded from KUBRI EAST by route march to GENEFFE bivouac there for the night.

Location GENEFFE Date 1/12/16

Proceeded by route march to Ashton Post.

Location SALFORD Date 1/12/16

3 Officers 187 OR 2 Camp D coys taken our strength

Location ASHTON Date 2/12/16

Routines as usual, also specialist classes, work on defences.

Location SALFORD Date 2/12/16

2nd Lieut Fox left to report to War Office.

Locations ASHTON and SALFORD Date 3/12/16

Routines as usual. Divine service.

Locations ASHTON and SALFORD Date 4/12/16

Routines as usual, also specialist classes, work on defences. Field training GHQ 162 Brigade

Locations ASHTON and SALFORD Date 5 to 9/12/16

Routines as usual, also specialist classes, work on defences. Field firing.

Locations ASHTON and SALFORD Date 10/12/16

Routines as usual. Divine service. Lt C Anderson reported for duty from POW camp El Shatt.

Locations ASHTON and SALFORD Date 11/12/16

Routines as usual, also specialist classes, work on defences

512 OR 1/10 London Regt camped at ASHTON.

Locations ASHTON and SALFORD Date 12/12/16

Routine as usual. Specialist classes; work on defences. 1/10 London Regt marched out on mobile column at 0800.






Finsbury Rifles: Away from the Western Front, 25th October – 22nd November 1916

General Sir Archibald Murray inspects D Company at Kubri East

Archibald_Murray wikimedia commons

General Sir Archibald Murray (1860 – 1945) was an experienced and decorated staff officer who had fought in South Africa and had served in France in the opening months of the First World War. In January 1916 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of what became the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) which was largely involved in defending the Suez Canal and keeping it open to all shipping. As Allied policy changed, Murray had to plan the advance across the Sinai Desert and into Southern Palestine. This involved the building of a railway, roads and the all- important water pipeline to supply the troops and animals of the EEF. General Murray’s HQ was in Cairo but he spent 5 days inspecting the Southern Canal Defence zone in late October 1916. The entries for this period in the war diary of the 1/5 Bedfordshire Regiment mention some of the preparations for this visit.



Location KUBRI EAST Date 25/10/16

Routine as usual. No convoys.

Location ON COLUMN Date 25/10/16

Column left for Camp Y at 0630 returning to Camp Z without incident.

Location KUBRI EAST Date 25 to 29/10/16

Routines as usual. Visit of General Sir Archibald Murray to D coy.

Date 30/10/16

Routines as usual. Battalion on training (and night operation) 2nd Lieut GG Critchley left RJC

Date 31/10/16

Routine as usual. Battalion in training.

November and December 1916

Location KUBRI EAST Date 12/11/16

Routines as usual, Divine service.

Date 13/11/16

Routine as usual also specialist classes. Work on defences. Detachment from Gurkha Port returned to Kubri East.

Date 14/11/16

Routine as usual also specialist classes. Capt Tattersall, and 100 other ranks proceeded to Ashton to relieve detachment 5th. Lieut Owen and 100 other ranks proceeded to Salford to relieve detachment.

Date 15/11/16

Routines as usual also specialist classes. Work on defences. Detachments of 100 OR with officers to Ashton and Salford respectively.

Date 16/11/16

Routines as usual, also specialist classes.

Date 17/11/16

Lieut TW Griffiths End NB Hutchinson 2nd Lt CC Badgley left for RF6.

Date 18 to 19/11/16

Routines as usual. Divine service.

Date 20 to 22/11/16

Routines as usual also specialist classes. Work on defences

Yao Blog 3

This is the last day I work in Islington Museum and I spent a fantastic morning with Julie Melrose, the archivist of Islington Local History Centre who gave me a mesmerising introduction to the centre and briefly the history of London borough of Islington and Finsbury. Then I got some hands-on experience in categorising, putting the maps of Islington borough in order and attaching appropriate labels and captions with those archived documents. It impressed me a lot how Islington expanded and developed in the recent 200 years and how archives support academic research and also general users with particular interests.

My work placement in Islington Museum is almost finishing here and it will be great to make a conclusion for all achievements I have done and with them, the learning outcomes. I very much appreciate the work plan for me which was made by the curator Roz and suited my interests and competencies very well. Following that plan, I had a great opportunity to experience managing ADLIB database and working on accession and object check. Whereas my previous employers were advertising agencies which demands good insight and understanding of clients’ requirement, the work here in Islington Museum needs more attention to details and passion for social culture and local history. The gap in between makes this work placement much meaningful and fascinating because working with academia is pretty eye-opening and ignite more possibilities for my own career. As for the practical skills I acquired in this work placement, I grew my competency in sorting data with Excel and managing database from the experience in using ADLIB, which could be useful in analytic and statistic jobs. Besides, this is the first time I work in a completely English environment which improved my skills in language and communicating with local people. In one word, the work placement I had in Islington Museum is a brilliant experience which extended my horizon and got myself prepared for future career.

Islington Museum is a fantastic place to apply theoretical learning into real working environment and people here are very much kind and helpful. It could be better if more volunteers can be used to sort the database and digitised materials here. I had a very wonderful time in Islington Museum and wish them all the best in the future.

Islington Museum/ Local History Centre Entrance

Dadabhai Naoroji Photo Album and Presentation Box, 1892

The constituency of Central Finsbury elected Britain’s first Asian MP in 1892. This album and its presentation box were gifted by the people of Bombay (now Mumbai) to commemorate Dadhabai Naoroji’s election. He served as MP for Central Finsbury until his defeat in 1895.Naoroji Photo Album

Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917) was born near Bombay and was the first Indian appointed as a Professor at Elphinstone College there. He moved to England in 1855 and became Professor of Gujurati at University College London (UCL) in 1856. Naoroji was a founder member of the East India Association and the London India Society. Within both of these organisations he promoted Indian rights in trade and the Civil Service.

Naoroji, photograph

During his time as MP for Central Finsbury, Naoroji’s position provoked further discussion of imperial citizenship in Britain. Naoroji also supported Home Rule for Ireland during this period, referring to the ‘ghostly persistence’ of Irish suffering in his public speeches. In these, Naoroji continued to represent himself as an imperial citizen. In the Pall Mall Gazette, he was described as holding his audience in his hands within the first five minutes of his speech at Holborn Town Hall in 1886. In 1901, he published Poverty and UnBritish Rule in India which is now regarded as a work which contributed to the founding of Indian nationalist economics.

Before his success in the 1892 election, Naoroji campaigned unsuccessfully as a Liberal party candidate in the staunchly Conservative area of Holborn. After losing his seat in Central Finsbury in 1895, Naoroji stood for election in Lambeth North in 1906 but was unsuccessful. He left England the following year to retire to India. Naoroji died at Versova in Bombay in 1917. Today there is a street named after Naoroji and a plaque at Finsbury Town Hall bearing his name.

EC1 Naoroji 04 (Medium)

Yao Blog 2

The first thing I started in Islington Museum was to check the objects’ locations in the small store. In order to handle collections appropriately, Roz introduced me all the must-dos in different cases and circumstances. I finished roughly six shelves full of objects, registering their numbers, names and descriptions as much in details as I can. Roz double-checked the locations and I will input the accurate locations in Adlib later on.

To determine what items are missing in Adlib, I conducted a comparison between the accession register book and an Excel sheet of all existing data generated by Adlib. I have checked 582 records and found 41 items were missing in Adlib. By manually creating items and adding fundamental attributes such as object category, name, title and description, these missing items could have been added into our database. However there are still some attributes remain blank in the database which would be better if more information is specified. I think probably we could particularly focus on the original accession registers of those missing items and manage to add more useful details to them.

Writing blogs which I am doing right now is another interesting task here in Islington Museum. It would be great if we treat these blogs as a reminder of what we have already achieved and what possibly could be improved in the future. Plus, it is also a great opportunity for our external communication with the public and those who have interests in museum stuff.

It is the third day of my working in Islington Museum and it seems that I have really done some interesting works. Regarding the plan I will add photographs recently taken to the records in Adlib. I am also going to do the Adlib check for permanent gallery. I will spend half of the last day in Islington Museum with Julie Melrose who is archivist of Islington Local History Centre. I feel much satisfied and happy with what I have learned so far and I am very looking forward into future challenges.

Permanent Gallery

The Permanent Gallery

Yao Blog 1

My name is Yao and I am studying Digital Humanities in UCL. In 2016 I earned my bachelor of art degree in Advertising from Sichuan University in China. During the term time, I was the vice president of the youth media department of Sichuan University, in responsibility of operating media networks and delivering social campaigns. I also interned in two 4A advertising agencies, Apex Ogilvy in Chengdu and J. Walter Thompson Beijing, participating in commercial communication proposals and media plans. After my graduation I decided to equip myself more with digital competency. Therefore I started a Digital Humanities course in UCL since September of 2016 and gained some abilities and skills in the internet technologies, information management, server programming and so on.

I really appreciate the concept of serving the local community with culture and heritage, as what Islington Museum is dedicated in. I would like to know more about the borough where I am based and that is also my initial motivation for working here. Islington Museum is a nice place with diverse collections and the people working here are lovely and helpful. The main task for me is to improve the museum database and develop a better way to organise those accessions within. I am pretty confident with any challenge in Islington Museum and am sure that I would learn a lot from the experts here.

Stephanie Blog 3

Things I have learnt working in the Islington Heritage Museum:

  1. One of the first things I learnt and enjoyed about working here was to get to know the Museum. Roz kindly gave me a tour of the museum where I found a lot of interesting information.
  2. How to write a blog for this Project webpage, ‘Sifting the paperwork’, with content about activities I normally do.
  3. Get to understand the database of the Museum, ADLIB, and work with it to verify and compare with the Accessions Register to see if every Museum object is in the database with the correct number and description. For missing objects, I corrected them or added them to an excel sheet.
  4. Learn how the Local History Archives of Islington Council works, how it is organised and helped to  find and classify some pamphlets for the Sadler’s Wells Theatre
  5. Learn to handle museum objects following training, by having to digitise some of them and upload to the database. Each museum object will have a photograph in the database to be recognized more easily.
  6. What I liked most about working at the museum of Islington was the digitization of objects, to take pictures of each one and get to know a little bit more of the stories of the Islington community.
    (One of the pictures I digitise. Image: Booth’s Distilleries Ltd.)1991.59


Stephanie Blog 2

  • One of my first tasks in Islington Museum waIMG_0250s digitising some of the objects that belonged to an Odeon cinema in Islington that was built a long time ago and now has been demolished. We took photos of 5 different objects. The first three objects were banners that appeared below the advertisement of the movie before its release, and the other two were the frames where movie posters were displayed outside the movie theatre. (Image: Frame displaying the movie and cast of the week)
  • My next task was to check over the Accessions Register book and compare the information with an Excel from the collections management system, Adlib, with a list of all the objects, to verify if every Museum object is in its place with the correct number and description. I corrected mistakes and added missing elements to the excel sheet.
  • I also spent a morning in the Local History Archives of Islington Council ; get to know all the archives rooms, understand their purpose and how they are a good tool to comprehend the history of Islington Borough. I helped organise some of the pamphlets that belonged to an old Islington Theatre called Sadler’s Wells, the world’s No.1 venue dedicated to international dance – presenting dance in all forms from contemporary to flamenco, ballet to hip hop. In 1683, Richard Sadler opened his “Musick House” (house of music), being the second public theater that opened in London. Basically my task was to read each one of the pamphlets and find the date they were issued and classify them from the oldest date to the most recent. (Image: Sadler’s Wells Theatre in 1910)


Stephanie Blog 1

Introducing Stephanie!

Stephanie -working

My name is Stephanie and I am studying Digital Humanities at University College London (UCL). I am half Peruvian and half Italian with dual nationality, but have lived in Peru my entire life. Three years ago I moved to London to study Digital Marketing at King’s College and I ended up staying here. Then I started working for a StartUp, a medical platform that mainly tried to connect patients and doctors in a more efficient way. Next I worked in a NGO in charge of promoting civil education programmes of freedom, liberty, peace and justice and overall the consolidation of democracy. I really enjoyed my time working there but I wanted to learn more about digital humanities and how to analyse data so that is why I applied to study at UCL.

I love culture, history and languages -I speak Spanish, English and Italian, and would like to learn many more! I like teaching and meeting new people, and particularly to learn more about their culture. My hobby is to do horseback riding and go to the movies. My first motivation to work at Islington Museum is the fact that I wanted to learn more about the place I am living right now. I also will know the history behind each aspect of Islington Borough and how that is reflected in modern life here. By working here I am hoping to help in anyway I can to enhance the database system of the Museum and also improve some areas that are not been well developed.

Sifting the Paperwork

Islington Museum’s paperwork is crucial in helping us understand what our objects are, where they are from and why they are interesting.

An old brick is just a brick…until you have a piece of paper that shows it is an original  tile from Sadlers Wells ‘Musick House’ in the 1680’s where people would come to take the waters, which cured dropsy, jaundice and scurvy. Come and visit us to discover the tiles and other intriguing objects from Islington’s past.

We have been working hard to look at our historic paperwork and bring it up to modern standards. In Sifting the Paperwork the people behind the work will give an insight into what we’re doing and will share the interesting snippets we find along the way.

Roz Currie, Curator