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Sir William Denis Battershill photographic collection


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  1. 7 photographs of Sir William Battershill, c1910-1950
  2. 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
  3. 39 photographs taken in Egypt and London during World War II, 1939-1945
  4. 1525 photographs, with 23 duplicates, taken in Ceylon, Jamaica, Cyprus, Palestine, Tanganyika and London, c1920-1959
  5. 10 photographs taken on a voyage to Australia, 1927


  • 1914-1959


5 boxes

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. Bodleian Libraries of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House MSS. Brit. Emp. t. 8].
Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Brit. Emp. t. 8

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 655

Biographical / Historical

Sir William Denis Battershill (1896-1959) was a soldier and colonial administrator. Educated at King's School, Worcester, 1908-1914, he served in India and Iraq, 1914-1919 with the 6th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment and the 2nd Battalion, the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment. Entering civilian life in 1920 as a cadet in the Ceylon Civil Service, he rose to the post of 2nd 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, and Governor and Commander-in-Chief, Tanganyika Territory, 1945-1949.

In 1924 he 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.

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.

Custodial History

The photographs were originally presented to the Royal Commonwealth Society in 1981 by Sir William Battershill's daughter, Jane D'Arcy through the Oxford Development Records Project.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The photographs were transferred to the library on the 6th January 1993 from the Royal Commonwealth Society.

Related Materials

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 the article An Irishman is specially suited to be a Policeman by Michael Silvestri, 'History Ireland', Vol. 8, No. 4, Winter 2000.
Sir William Denis Battershill photographic collection
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom