Earlier this year I published an article about Joseph Alfred Heenan, a man who went off to sea as a teenager and ended up battling German enemy ships in the Indian ocean, serving in two world wars and honoured by his King .
It was a remarkable story. Even more remarkable is that I now have a photograph of him while on duty in Egypt during World War 1.
Here he is pictured third from left, in front of the pyramids at Gaza. The picture was taken on August 29, 1916 when Joseph Alfred would have been about 24 years old and was serving as first officer on board HMS Fox.
He had been with the ship for two years at that point, rising through the ranks as the ship engaged in patrol duties in the East Indies, (1914) ; East Africa and Egypt (1915-17).
In the summer of 1916, the Fox had seen action in Egypt and there is a family story (unconfirmed) that Joseph Alfred Heenan fired the guns that started the Arab revolt.
The visit to the Pyramids was likely to be during a rest day between duties. It was evidently a remarkable event because the photograph was used to create a postcard presumably sent back to family members in the UK.
Who are the men who accompanied him on his jaunt? The quartet has been identified as (left to right) John Magnus Hourie, Allen Garriock/Garrioch , Joseph Alfred Heenan and Cecil Robert Bluett . The uniforms indicate they are naval officers though judging by the insignia on their shoulders, the man on the left is the more junior member of the team.
What do we know of these men? Very little in fact.
The only man I have been able to trace in naval records held by the National Archives at Kew, is Cecil Robert Bluett. He was apparently serving with the Royal Indian Navy when war broke out in 1914. He was seconded to the Royal Navy as a Lieutenant but the name of the ship on which he served is not recorded in his service record. He returned to the Royal Indian Navy after the war and also served in World War 2 as a captain. By 1949 he had retired.
The other two men do not appear in any naval service records at the National Archives.
We cannot be certain these men all served on the same vessel. There were many ships in port at the same time and officers would have mingled on the few occasions they had shore leave. They may well have all been on different vessels but having met decided to embark on the expedition.
If anyone has information about any of these men do get in touch. The photograph is in the possession of Alan and Natasha Neuroth who have given me permission to post on this site in the hope it will be a trigger for other researchers to add to the information.