|4th of July commemoration in Jerusalem with flags and toy guns|
(circa 1905). Note the Swedish flag; some of the American
Colony members were originally Swedish. Hand-colored picture
The founders of the American Colony in Jerusalem in 1881 were proud of their American roots. The group of utopian, millennialist Christians were later joined by Swedish-American and Swedish believers.
|4th of July pageant, with man and woman dressed as Uncle Sam and the Statue of Liberty (circa 1905). Hand-colored picture|
The British army, under General Edmund Allenby, captured Jerusalem in December 1917. Seven months later, in 1918, Allenby was the guest of honor at the American Colony's July 4th celebrations.
|Allenby at July 4, 1918 pageant|
|Allenby (in uniform) at the American Colony reception|
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|A British army troupe performing at the July 4 festivities |
Does R.E. stand for Royal Engineers?
The battle for Palestine in World War I was a long and bloody campaign pitting Turkish, German, and Austrian troops against the forces of Britain, India, Australia and New Zealand. The war, fought with infantry, cavalry, artillery, planes and tanks, was waged from the Suez Canal to Damascus. A special effort was made by the British commander, Gen. Edmund Allenby, to capture Jerusalem by Christmas 1917.
This curious photograph appears in a photo album assembled by the American Colony photographers, apparently taken at a Jerusalem party hosted by the Colony on July 4, 1918. Allenby was in attendance. The caption, "R.E. Concert Party" almost certainly identifies the characters as soldiers of the Royal Engineers of the British army.
The actors are part of the British army's theater and concert group, known as a "concert party" or a "Pierrot troupe" that entertained the troops during the war. The woman is a female impersonator, and the figure second from the left appears to be an actor portraying a Faginesque Jew with a long beard and sidecurls, black hat, bottle of wine and candlesticks.
For more history on the "concert party" during World War I see the Australian War Memorial Research Centre.