Sir William Denis Battershill photographic collection

Scope and Content

  • 7 photographs of Sir William Battershill, c1910-1950
  • 263 photographs of views, camp scenes, fellow officers, etc. taken in India and Mesopotamia during World War I, 1914-1918, with photograph of HMAS Sydney at Aden
  • 39 photographs taken in Egypt and London during World War II, 1939-1945
  • 1525 photographs, with 23 duplicates, taken in Ceylon, Jamaica, Cyprus, Palestine, Tanganyika and London, c1920-1959
  • 10 photographs taken on a voyage to Australia, 1927

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir William Denis Battershill (1896-1959) was a soldier and colonialadministrator. Educated at King's School, Worcester, 1908-1914, he servedin India and Iraq, 1914-1919 with the 6th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment and the2nd Battalion, the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment. Entering civilian lifein 1920 as a cadet in the Ceylon Civil Service, he rose to the post of2nd Assistant Secretary and Clerk to the Legislative Council in 1928. Continuing his career, he served as Assistant Colonial Secretary, Jamaica, 1929-1935, Colonial Secretary, Cyprus, 1935-1937, Chief Secretary to the Government of Palestine, 1937-1939, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Cyprus, 1939-1941, Assistant Under-Secretary of State, Colonial Office,1941-1942, Deputy Under-Secretary, Tanganyika Territory, 1942-1945, andGovernor and Commander-in-Chief, Tanganyika Territory, 1945-1949.

In 1924he married Joan Gellibrand, with whom he had two daughters. He spent the last ten years of his life after 1949 in retirement on Cyprus.


The collection is arranged in 13 albums, with 23 loose duplicates.

Conditions Governing Access

Bodleian reader's ticket required.


Collection level description created by Paul Davidson, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House.

Other Finding Aids

Listed as no. 558 in Manuscript Collections in Rhodes House Library Oxford,Accessions 1978-1994 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1996). A photographic index is also available in the reading room.

Conditions Governing Use

No reproduction or publication without permission. Contact the libraryin the first instance.

Custodial History

The photographs were originally presented to the Royal Commonwealth Society in1981 by Sir William Battershill's daughter, Joan D'Arcy through the Oxford Development Records Project.

Related Material

A partial copy of the Royal Commonwealth Society's list, with original numbering, is held by the library. The library also holds the correspondence and papers of Sir William Denis Battershill, 1914-1959 (ref. MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 467).


A photograph of Sir Charles Tegart, taken in Palestine 1937-1938, was used in thearticle An Irishman is specially suited to be a Policeman by Michael Silvestri, 'History Ireland', Vol. 8, No. 4, Winter 2000.