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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Help dating a group picture from the uniforms please?


Andy Wade

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Hi Everyone,

I have just scanned this rather nice picture of Private Stephen Tatham (KIA 11/8/1917 and remembered on the Menin Gate) He died as a Corporal with the 8th Bn Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment. From the picture he and others are in 'Kitchener Blues' and some others are in standard uniform but have cap badges missing so I'm assuming that it's early on in their Army careers as they haven't been issued with a lot of items yet.

Trouble is that his service records are missing, so we have little idea when this photo might have been taken. What we do know from a newspaper report of his death is that he had allegedly been at the front two and a half years when he was killed which would mean he entered theatre in February 1915. His medal card actually shows he entered theatre (Balkans) on 7th July 1915, so there's a bit of a discrepancy there but I'm putting that down to the newspaper getting their dates wrong. I do wonder if they meant that he had been serving for two and a half years though and this photo is from early 1915?

Anyway, I would like to try and date this picture with some accuracy if possible, with your help please. There's a short note on the back from Stephen to his son but sadly no date. Clearly it's an early training picture. I have the War diary for the 8th Bn WRR but it only covers from 1916 to 1918 and I wouldn't have expected to see any early training details in it anyway.

Many thanks in advance for anyone who can point out some 'interesting information' from this picture.

Kind regards, Andy.

post-9980-0-82886600-1395652266_thumb.jp

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Armed with Japanese Arisaka (type 38) rifles which strongly suggests early 1915

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Armed with Japanese Arisaka (type 38) rifles which strongly suggests early 1915

errrr..are you sure?

I'm only viewing this on a pad but that's not what I would have said based on the bayonet bar/nosecap

I better go and look on a proper monitor

Chris

edit

ok so still on the pad but, turned down bolt handle,stacking swivel,bayonet bar, exposed clearing rod channel, sling swivel in front of mag (not on butt) and visible p1888 bayonet I think these are Lee Metfords or early MLEs, given the apparent narrowness of the magazine base, I would guess the former with 8rd single stack mag.

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Duke of Wellington's Regiment - some dressed in Kitchener blues so early 1915 ish as centurion says.

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Looking good on the date for early 1915 then, which is when we suspect he enlisted.

Here's the best I can do on the rifles close up:


post-9980-0-91417000-1395659064_thumb.jp

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I agree on date, but these are not Arisakas. See points above all clearer here and the dial of the volley sight is also visible just below the men's right hand. MLM or MLE for sure.

Chris

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They don't look like arisaka's to me as they have external box magazines, probably MLE's, check out the bayonet enfield P88.

khaki

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Actually the emergency 'blue' clothing was first introduced under War Office Instruction 92 of the 6th September 1914 for 'K1' units.

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Hi

Definitely not Arisaka rifles, I'd go with a variant of the MLE although without a side on view it would be difficult to tell exactly which type. The second photo with the bayonet also assists.

regards

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Hi Andy,

If this is a photo of your relative in training with the 8th (Service) Battalion Duke of Wellington's (and since he landed in Gallipoli with the battalion in July 1915, then chances are he trained with the battalion as well), the Long Long Trail website suggests the photo would have been taken at Belton Park (Grantham), if prior to April 1915. In April 1915 the battalion moved to Witley. Since the trees in the background appear to be 'fully clothed' we're either talking late summer / early autumn 1914 or spring 1915. If it can be established when the battalion lost the Kitchener's Blues then that might help narrow-down the time line.

cheers

Steve

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Hi Steve,

...either that or they're conifers, in which case they would be fully clothed all year. :unsure:

They have very straight trunks which suggests to me that they could be a pine forest plantation, lots of light showing through between the trunks. Good point and well made though. Excellent history of the battalion. Cheers.

.Edited to add: I could be completely wrong about the plantation though. I just checked with the Forestry Commission website and they were established on 1st September 1919 as a reaction to depleted timber stocks due to the First World War! Didn't know that! :thumbsup:

Here's an extract from their history page. You learn something new every day!:

Britain's woodland resources had been declining since the middle ages, but reached an all time low - just 5% of land area - by the beginning of the 20th Century With the outbreak of war the country was no longer able to rely on timber imports, and in July 1916 Minister Herbert Asquith appointed the Acland Committee to look at the best ways of developing woodland resources. The Committee reported to Asquith's successor, David Lloyd George, in 1918. They recommended a state organisation as being the most effective way of co-ordinating a reafforestation plan to meet timber needs for the foreseeable future.

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Is it possible (for the uninitiated such as me and Centurion) for someone to post a comparative picture of the Arisaka so we know in future?

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It hardly seems worth the effort to describe the Arisaka as there are so many differences, there is simply no possible comparison to these rifles. Actually it's a "no brainer".!

Of course they are "long Lee" rifles, most probably the Magazine Lee Metford by the look of the magazines (external) which again of course the Arisaka rifles don't feature.

And the bayonet shown is the Patt.88 Mk.II for either the MLM or the MLE ... none of which assists with any of the actual dating, except to show it is an early training photo.

Cheers, S>S

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I notice that a certain member has started a new thread this morning entitled 'Getting it wrong' .... about other people getting it wrong ... :whistle:

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Oh the irony.

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No worries Andy,

Looked more deciduous to me - but I guess too far away to be sure!

cheers

Steve

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Absolutely.

No real way of telling either way for sure although, until you mentioned the trees I hadn't even thought of using them as a guide to the possible season.

One thing I haven't done yet is to look at his service number (12563) for dating when he might have enlisted. Still got to check out similar numbers who do have service records to see if I can work out an approximate date.

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Is it possible for someone to post a comparative picture of the Arisaka so we know in future?

Here is a similar early war "in the field" (training field) view.

post-14525-0-59860300-1395753477_thumb.j

And here is a side by side "captive" view

post-14525-0-04799000-1395753478_thumb.j

Magazine Lee Enfield

post-14525-0-35429200-1395753478_thumb.j

Arisaka

I enumerated the main differences above in my first post. But, working from the back most obviously they are positioning of the rear sling swivel, shape of the butt, turned down bolt handle, external box magazine, volley sight dial (opp side) stacking swivel and bayonet bar, clearing rod, foresight.

Early M Lee-Metfords and some conversions of them did have grasping grooves as demonstrated by the Arisaka

Chris

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Cheers, Chris. No reason to repeat the mistake in future.

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Thank you to everyone who contributed, I think we've pretty much nailed his start of service as early 1915.

I have found a couple of very close numbers in service records for his battalion which gives us an approximate enlistment date of around Feb 1915. His Granddaughter (who is 84) wanted to know if he was a volunteer or a conscript but we knew the answer to that anyway. This gives a better idea of how long he'd served before he died and confirms the newspaper article which gave two and a half years at the front when this was actually just slightly over two years, but he'd served two and a half years total by 11th August 1917. Great information about the rifles too! :thumbsup:

He's our next submission for the regular newspaper articles about local men and should be in next week's paper.

Cheers,

Andy.

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