I have several photos taken in Egypt of soldiers smiling together with their arms around each other, close mates in a time of war, establishing friendships unlike any they had back home. This photo is interesting for its depiction of friends but also because of the background the photographer captured. They seem to be standing on top of a building showing off Heliopolis, developed in 1905 as a model suburb of Cairo by Baron Empain, a Belgian industrialist. One of the buildings he ordered his architects to design was the Roman Catholic Church (behind and to the left) known as the Basilica of the Virgin Mary, or l’Église Notre Dame d’Héliopolis, built in the heart of the new suburb in 1910. It’s a small copy of Hagia Sofia in Istanbul. When the baron died in 1929 he was buried in the crypt.
The mosque in the photo (behind and to the right) is described in the photo album as the ‘wailing mosque’. It does not appear in any present day web photo search, nor on Google maps. Many buildings have been demolished or altered during the last century, particularly during the 1970s, and this must have been one of them.
My father gave this photo the caption “S. Chambers”, though I don’t know which of them it is.