A rifleman, Jack Archer saw action at Omdurman in 1898 and at Ladysmith in the Second Boer War. He was posted far and wide throughout Africa and India including Sudan and Nyasaland (Malawi) before being wounded and captured as a prisoner of war at Cambrai. He remained a POW through most of World War One at Merseburg Camp, Germany and Scheveningen Camp in Holland.

Archer retired in 1919 and took a post working in the prison service in Nyasaland, where he remained until the outbreak of the Second World War.

A small cross section of his varied career is reflected in Serving Soldier illustrative of daily life including his account book and regulations, a diary compiled during service in Ireland in the 1890s and a number of sporting programmes. Prison inspections throw light on a less well known aspect of colonial administration. Alfresco supper illuminated by countless fire-flies, buffalo and lion-stalking are described in 'Shooting trip in Nyasaland, Christmas, 1911' a reminder that hunting trips had a serious side: combining sport, social bonding and shooting practice.

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