What is this group?

ARP Wardens at Boswall Green, 1945

©   Reproduced with acknowledgement to Malcolm Cant, Greenbank, Edinburgh                                                Photographer not known



OSO Edinburgh  -  1927

Thank you to Edinburgh author, Malcolm Cant, for sending me this photo.

Malcolm wrote:


"This photo is a picture postcard taken in the garden area of either Coates Crescent or Athol Crescent in 1927.  It has a caption 'OSO Edinburgh 1927' but I have been unable to find out what OSO stands for.

I enquired to Edinburgh Castle and they thought it might be Ordnance Survey.

Other people have suggested Overseas Officers, possibly associated with the Overseas League who had offices at No 18 Coates Crescent in 1927.

You will see that the picture has a mix of ages, military and civilian."

Malcolm Cant, Greenbank, Edinburgh:  June 26, 2009


Can you help to answer Malcolm's question?  If you have any answers or suggestions, please email me, then I'll pass on your comments to him.

Thank you.     -  Peter Stubbs:  August 6, 2009




Richard Torrance


Thank you to Richard Torrance who wrote.

"I used the internet and came up with the following possibility:

- Operational Support Office OR

- Operational Support Officers.

Judging from the uniforms OSO in this case is a Governmental or Military acronym"

Richard Torrance, Edinburgh:  August 6, 2009



John Hadden


Thank you to John Hadden who wrote:

Edinburgh  Crescents

"Do you think the location is definite?  (Perhaps not.- Peter Stubbs)

The background shows that the park area is bounded by a low wall with several courses of stones.

Assuming that things haven't changed radically since 1927, I think that many crescents in Edinburgh had either no raised boundary or only a single block high, including Atholl Crescent and Coates Crescents.

Also, the photo shows a gate to this park area, whereas the grass areas at Atholl Crescent and Coates Crescents are not enclosed (at least not now).

Claremont Crescent

I think a more likely candidate may be Claremont Crescent.  This has a low wall and a similar gate.  Also, the building style is very similar to that in the photograph.

There is more than one gate into the grass area at Claremont Crescent, but the pattern of blocks on the building stonework and the blemishes on the stones around the windows would suggest that the building in the rear of this photo may be 18 or 19 Claremont Crescent.

So could this photo have been taken there?

(Google Street View was most useful in assisting me with this)"

John Hadden, Edinburgh:  August 7, 2009



John Hadden


Thank you to John Hadden for investigating further then writing:


Ordnance Survey

"The National Archives of Scotland have a letter sent in 1914 from Ordnance Survey Office, 19 Claremont Street, Edinburgh.

This would support the suggestion that Ordnance Survey might be Ordnance Survey."

John Hadden, Edinburgh:  August 7, 2009


18 & 19 Claremont Crescent

The letter referred to above was sent in 1914, thirteen years before this photo was taken.

OSO Edinburgh 1927 - What is this group and where was the photograph taken? ©

However, I've checked the Edinburgh & Leith Post Office Directory for 1930-31 and found that the Ordnance Survey Office was still based at Claremont Crescent then.

Its address in the directory is given as 18 & 19 Claremont Crescent.

 Peter Stubbs:  August 7, 2009



Les Braby

Borders, Scotland

Thank you to Les Braby who wrote:

18 & 19 Claremont Crescent

The letter referred to above was sent in 1914, thirteen years before this photo was taken.

OSO Edinburgh 1927 - What is this group and where was the photograph taken? ©

"I can confirm that this photo was taken in Claremont Crescent.  The Arch on the gate at the back of the group is conclusive, as it is still there.  Also the architecture of the buildings now is exactly as those on the photo.

If you google it, and go to street level you will see it all clearly.

The other facet to the immediate area is that to left of the group as you are facing them, is the East Claremont Street TA Drill Hall; perhaps they came from there.

Itís also still possible, that it is the Ordnance Survey Office, as I think it was the practise to have military personnel attached, as they were one of the biggest users of maps and of course if Iím not mistaken, the OSO also produced maps for the whole world. Thoughts only, not known facts."

Les Braby, Borders, Scotland:  22 August 2016



Clive Boocock

Southampton, England

Thank you to Chris Boocock who wrote:


  OSO Edinburgh 1927 - What is this group and where was the photograph taken? ©

"I can confirm the men in this group are staff of the Ordnance Survey office in Edinburgh (which I think was Claremont Crescent at that time).  The military men are all Royal Engineers working on the Ordnance Survey.

 There is a copy of the photograph in the Ordnance Survey picture library with the following names associated with the picture.  Left to right:


-  Meredith

-  Methven

-  ?

-   Nelson

-  Biggs

-  Sparks

-  Johnson

-  Stowe

-  Crofton

-  Campbell


-  Beynon

-  Smith

-  Devonshire

-  McCririe

-  Pearson

-  Lamb

-  Montgomery

-  Pearson

-  Higton

-  Sainsbury

-  Oldham

-  Cmaeron

-  Oliver (senior)


-  Oliver (junior)

-  Reece

-  Taylor

-  Johnson

-  Bagot

-  Brennan

-  Cager

-  Drewry"

Clive Boocock,  'Ordnance Survey, Southampton, England:   1 August 2017



Groups  -  in Military Uniform