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Uniform Differences - query


Icox67
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Hi all.

Attached is a photo (in 2 halves due to file size) from sometime in 1915, and includes my grandfather in the group of what appears to be mainly Cameronians (probably the 5th Battalion, which is the Bn he was in). My GF was wounded in late Jan 1915 and I believe was back in UK until September-time, and I speculate that this photo may have been taken in UK. I had some queries on the uniforms and miscellaneous make up of the group, and wondered if it might stimulate some response.

1. There are 2 types of belt worn - the leather belt with the S clip, and a webbing-style belt. Any reason? I note that some are not wearing any belt around their tunic also.

2. 2 of the soldiers (my GF being one) appear to have a pin clasp on their right breast pocket - any idea what this might have been?

3. My GF appears to have a leather strap running from right shoulder diagonally down to the left - what would that have been used for? No others in the photo have this.

4. I note at least 7 swagger sticks (I think). Are these all for show, or could they have been used for convalescence (my GF's wound was in the thigh - I'm leading towards querying if this group could have been convalescing).

5. One of the soldiers has what seems to be a Signallers patch on his shoulder. Were signallers a separate unit, or attached to each platoon / Company?

6 The older soldier in the middle (who incidentally wears the only Tam O' Shanter in the group) has a rope around his neck, leading to his left breast pocket. A whistle perhaps?

Would love to hear anyones thoughts on any aspect of this. Sorry its having to be posted in 2 bits (see next post).

Cheers,

Second half of the photo...

post-65341-0-12142200-1342148587_thumb.j

post-65341-0-96638700-1342148785_thumb.j

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1. There are 2 types of belt worn - the leather belt with the S clip, and a webbing-style belt. Any reason? I note that some are not wearing any belt around their tunic also.

2. 2 of the soldiers (my GF being one) appear to have a pin clasp on their right breast pocket - any idea what this might have been?

3. My GF appears to have a leather strap running from right shoulder diagonally down to the left - what would that have been used for? No others in the photo have this.

4. I note at least 7 swagger sticks (I think). Are these all for show, or could they have been used for convalescence (my GF's wound was in the thigh - I'm leading towards querying if this group could have been convalescing).

5. One of the soldiers has what seems to be a Signallers patch on his shoulder. Were signallers a separate unit, or attached to each platoon / Company?

6 The older soldier in the middle (who incidentally wears the only Tam O' Shanter in the group) has a rope around his neck, leading to his left breast pocket. A whistle perhaps?

OK I'll have a go before the experts get up.

The two main belt types shown are the 1908 pattern Webbing (canvas) belt and the 1914 Pattern Leather equipment belt. This P14 belt and the rest of the equipment was produced because of a shortage of the standard web equipment. very common equipment in 15/16 less common later as sufficient 08 web became available -- however the pattern 14 belt remained around for "walking out" dress- it seems to me because it was smarter!

Actually I think the singaller has a third pattern of belt on - this looks to me to be an older pattern of Slade Wallace equipment (note the narrower appearance and the different leather sliders) compared to the Pattern 14 to his left.

Not sure on the pin (not sure it is a pin) the one thing that is sometimes seen in this location is a watch fob. This looks to be what is visible in the button hole of the chap behind the sgt in the tam.(cross bar of a watch fob through his button hole) Is this your grandfather? I am fairly certain this is a watch chain fob.

I don't see the leather strap to which you refer I'm afraid.

The swagger sticks were standard equipment for "walking out" -- appearance not really functional (ie I these do not look to me like canes for practial assistance with injuries)

As an aside several of the men are wearing Simplified Pattern Service Dress Jackets (no pocket pleats or shoulder rifle patches)

The "rope" (lanyard) may have a whistle on - but the in most cases it would have had a jack knife (folding knife) lanyards and knives were standard issue on active service.

Looking at the picture I would guess it is taken in the UK in front of billets (net curtains and bay windows) prior to leaving for France - there are quite a lot of simiar pictures of the Highland Brigade in Bedford in late 1914-early 1915. Is there a photograpers name on the back of the card? My bet would be (given swagger sticks etc) it is PRIOR to the battalion going to France. The group is almost all NCOs it appears.

I will leave it to others to comment on the disbursment of signallers - as I am unsure.

Right - hope that gives a start

Chris

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Is the photo of Battalion HQ soldiers.

There is an high proportion of SNCO's including what I presume is the signals serjeant and could the "staff" sergeant be the Orderly Room Clerk

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These are wonderful photos and I concur with Chris's (4thGordons) assessment with a few clarifications. The narrower snake buckle belts are indeed the Rifle Regiment version of the Slade Wallace equipment in black leather. They were still used as the full dress belt by the KRR, RB, SR, RIR and associated TF Battalions, as well as the London Regiment and in 1914-15 were occasionally seen worn with SD.

The sticks are not swagger canes (which are shorter) but regimental canes, which were longer and more of a walking stick nature. Whereas the swagger cane could be carried by all ORs tucked under the arm or swung whilst walking, the regimental canes were confined to the sergeants and WOs, and members of the Regimental Police detachment.

The Army issue watches came with a leather fob that was often attached to a button, but watches were also often fitted with a T bar and this was generally tucked through a breast pocket button hole giving the pin appearance that you have noted.

Your grandfather appears to have one of the leather slade wallace equipment 'braces' from his slade wallace belt fitted. These were generally worn vertically, but he seems to have worn his crosswise, perhaps to support a side arm or other heavy instrument affixed to his waist belt.

Signallers were generally allocated to each company so that they could assist with the running of a company HQ signals set up, initially consisting of field telephones and wire (and in some theatres heliographs and semaphore), but by 1918 sometimes with nascent radios, although these latter were usually confined to communication between battalion and brigade.

As Chris says, the most common use of the lanyard to pocket was to secure a clasp knife, but it could also be used for a whistle, or compass.

This is a rare set of photos and it would be great if you could send electronic copies to the Cameronians website: http://www.cameronians.org/

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Here is my take on the photo and your questions:

1. Like Chris said both are meant for Infantry--The Web P-08 and leather P14 and mixes in units were fairly common. Wearing of just belts was common for walking out.

2. I think Chris is correct--Watch Fob

3. This looks like the equipment shoulder brace from the P14 Infantry equipment. In this case not being used as part of the full set but being used as a sling for either the haversack or canteen.

4. These are "canes" and meant for soldiers to carry during walking out.

5. Signallers, were both grouped at HQ and qualified with-in Companies etc.

6 The older soldier is actually wearing a Balmoral with a cover. Balmorals were issued between Glens and Tams in a rough timeline. The Tam O' Shanter was a different piece of head gear. Lanyards worn around the neck were usually associated with Pistols, compass or whistles. Its not a pistol so probably a whistle or could be a compass or clasp knife too (Clasp knife lanyards were usually worn around the shoulder).

I doubt the photo was taken prior to Jan 1915. My guess is that after Convalenscence he was posted back to the Reserve Battalions associated with the 5th and that is where this photo was taken summer 1915 in the UK prior to being sent back to France.

Joe Sweeney

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  • 1 month later...

Gents,

This is the first opportunity I have had in ages to look at the site, and was pleasantly surprised to see your informative responses. Many thanks, as it clarifies quite a lot.

I tend to believe that it was taken in UK, during convalescence, in mid-late 1915 (a photo of my GF in Cambuslang from Dec 1915 shows him as a Sergeant then - he certainly wasn't when he was first sent overseas in Nov 1914).

Your answers were much appreciated.

Cheers,

Iain

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