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SOLDIERS PARADING IN ANDOVER


mrfish
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Hi, Pals

I'm looking for any thoughts on this photo of soldiers on parade in Andover High Street. From the uniforms...

Would this be 1914?

Would these be new recruits who have just got their uniforms?

Would they be off to training or war?

Any ideas of regiment? (Sorry I don't have a better resolution copy)

Anything else anyone can discern from the photo?

TIA

><(((((*>

thumbnail_1914 soldiers globe hotel.jpg

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  • mrfish changed the title to SOLDIERS PARADING IN ANDOVER

Some of them look very young - perhaps they're a unit of the Officers Training Corp from a school, though there's one man in the front rank with a moustache.  But what a shabby turnout: a couple of sloppy belts, some have no belts at all. Certainly not off to war - no rifles, no kit bags.

 

Experts may be able to discern something from the style of the uniforms, though I suspect an OTC unit would not have the latest.

 

I don't think there was a school in or very close to Andover that would have had an OTC, but nine miles away was Tidworth Barracks, where two satellite camping-sites, Tidworth Park and Tidworth Pennings, accommodated OTC summer camps before, during and after the Great War (and, I think, into the 1960s - staunch Combined Cadet Force types from my alma mater gave up a week of their summer holidays for a camp "at Tidworth").

 

Googling and searching on eBay will produce many photos of the camps taken between 90 and 115 years ago.

 

Some of the OTC contingents would have passed through Andover (which was served by two stations) and followed the Midland & South Western Junction Railway to Ludgershall, where they  would have de-trained for the camping-sites. If your photo shows a unit in transit, I wonder what was it doing in the High Street - waiting for a connection on to the MSWJR, perhaps? (In January 1963 I spent 80 minutes shivering in a waiting-room on Andover Station doing just that.)

 

Wright was a prolific postcard publisher and produced many cards of Tidworth Barracks. Curiously, I have some 70 cards of the Pennings and Park camps and not one bears his imprint. It's possible that he might have produced some for companies such as Gale & Polden, a major publisher of military cards based in Aldershot.

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There seems to be a strange selection: there are some who look very young, but others with moustaches: as these are in the ranks with the youngsters I suspect they might not be Instructors or Permanent Staff. There seems also to be a selection of badges and buttons: some Rifles style, others not.

 

Most odd.

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I think they are possibly Wiltshire Territorials.  One battalion wore black badges and buttons from its VRC past.  It was the 4th TF Battalion.  The mixed age groups and other features you commented upon would chime with that.

 

Image courtesy of Imperial War Museum.

 

90F9D29F-938E-4ED7-BB2B-FA1B6C253D37.jpeg

49FADE4B-BD23-436E-8201-20D3EF6C2239.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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1 hour ago, mrfish said:

Thanks you all, that's most useful.

 

>,(((((*>


The 4th Battalion Wilts seem to have dropped their black badges and buttons fairly soon in the war, as later images invariably show standard regimental badges and buttons.

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They all have 1914 leather belts and tunics without pleats on the pockets and lack of shoulder patches.

Peter Doyle's 'Great War Tommy' (Haynes) says this simplified tunic was introduced in late 1915.

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Odd, looking at the photo again, some of the young men don't look quite so young as they did last night! In between times, the thought occurred to me that I have a vague memory of adult ancillary school workers serving in the ranks of the OTC ...

 

Those four men out front - officers? NCOs? They don't look to have a particularly military bearing.

 

Remembrance, a booklet written by Muriel Harris, nee Cable, and published in the late 1990s, gives her recollections of soldiers being billeted on her family in Andover during the Great War. In December 1914 the Cables and other Andover families were asked to take in soldiers who were encamped on Salisbury Plain and who were suffering from the wet conditions and an infestation of lice. Four men from the King's Own Royal Lancasters (Mrs Harris mistakenly refers to "Lancashires") were given the Cables' smallest (of three) bedrooms; the army stipulated that all furniture and bedding be removed, it providing clean blankets for the soldiers, who slept on the floor. During the winter, the soldiers continued their training, some practising trench-digging at night in nearby fields. They were succeeded in the billets by two Royal Engineers. Then, in March, a police sergeant knocked on the Cables' door and brusquely asked "Which do you want, Germans or soldiers?", to which Mr Cable replied "We've never refused to take anyone yet, have we?" Shortly there arrived two Boer War veterans, wearing their former uniforms, the red of a regiment of foot and the green dress and plumed hat of a rifleman. They were attached to the Leicester Regiment as instructors, but their knowledge of weapons was so out of date that they were discharged after two weeks. Later the Cables provided accommodation for men of the 16th King's Royal Rifle Corps, the 17th Durham Light Infantry (actually based in Rugeley, Staffordshire, at the time Mrs Harris says, though other DLI battalions were then training close to Andover) and the Royal Flying Corps.
 

Perhaps the men in the photo are lined up to be allocated billets - but no kitbags ...

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19 hours ago, Moonraker said:

Wright was a prolific postcard publisher and produced many cards of Tidworth Barracks. Curiously, I have some 70 cards of the Pennings and Park camps and not one bears his imprint.

Fred Wight was also quite active in Winchester pre war. I think his shop was in Jewry Street along with Riders Studio and Halladay.

Many of the Fred Wright postcards that I have use an embossed stamp rather than the white writing (presumably black ink on the negative).

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39 minutes ago, Alan24 said:

...Peter Doyle's 'Great War Tommy' (Haynes) says this simplified tunic was introduced in late 1915...

 

This is incorrect - the Simplified version of SD was in production from late 1914 (eg the label illustrated below is from an October 1914 made Simplified Jacket). By late 1915 production of Simplified SD had already ceased, the supply crisis having been largely overcome, and production effectively reverted back to the older more complicated type:

 

October 1914 dated Simplified Jacket label.JPG

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3 hours ago, Moonraker said:

Odd, looking at the photo again, some of the young men don't look quite so young as they did last night! In between times, the thought occurred to me that I have a vague memory of adult ancillary school workers serving in the ranks of the OTC ...

 

Those four men out front - officers? NCOs? They don't look to have a particularly military bearing.

 

Remembrance, a booklet written by Muriel Harris, nee Cable, and published in the late 1990s, gives her recollections of soldiers being billeted on her family in Andover during the Great War. In December 1914 the Cables and other Andover families were asked to take in soldiers who were encamped on Salisbury Plain and who were suffering from the wet conditions and an infestation of lice. Four men from the King's Own Royal Lancasters (Mrs Harris mistakenly refers to "Lancashires") were given the Cables' smallest (of three) bedrooms; the army stipulated that all furniture and bedding be removed, it providing clean blankets for the soldiers, who slept on the floor. During the winter, the soldiers continued their training, some practising trench-digging at night in nearby fields. They were succeeded in the billets by two Royal Engineers. Then, in March, a police sergeant knocked on the Cables' door and brusquely asked "Which do you want, Germans or soldiers?", to which Mr Cable replied "We've never refused to take anyone yet, have we?" Shortly there arrived two Boer War veterans, wearing their former uniforms, the red of a regiment of foot and the green dress and plumed hat of a rifleman. They were attached to the Leicester Regiment as instructors, but their knowledge of weapons was so out of date that they were discharged after two weeks. Later the Cables provided accommodation for men of the 16th King's Royal Rifle Corps, the 17th Durham Light Infantry (actually based in Rugeley, Staffordshire, at the time Mrs Harris says, though other DLI battalions were then training close to Andover) and the Royal Flying Corps.
 

Perhaps the men in the photo are lined up to be allocated billets - but no kitbags ...


The badges all look to be the same shape to me, that of a Maltese cross, but some are black and some are plain brass.  Just focusing on the cap insignia, what do others see?

As well as simplified jackets the belts appear to be from P1914 emergency leather equipment.  None of the group show the slightest sign that they’ve been training and sleeping on Salisbury Plain.  Even if carpet beaten on a line signs of chalk dust and dried mud would be visible if they had been (l know that from personal experience).  Men being allocated to billets would usually parade with their kit, so in this case that doesn’t seem likely either.

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Yes and she still scrubs up well for an old lady.

 

2BE7C57B-9812-4E20-B8B1-54F95EE31BD1.jpeg

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On 10/01/2021 at 15:08, Moonraker said:

... Perhaps the men in the photo are lined up to be allocated billets - but no kitbags ...

 

22 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:

...  Even if carpet beaten on a line signs of chalk dust and dried mud would be visible if they had been (l know that from personal experience).  Men being allocated to billets would usually parade with their kit, so in this case that doesn’t seem likely either.

I must look at my many other cards of soldiers actually on Salisbury Plain for traces of chalk dust and dried mud! :) Though quite a few, notably of the Canadians, show wet mud.

 

Perhaps the soldiers had already been billeted in Andover and had been assembled for a briefing or Church Parade -  not that some had made much effort to smarten up for the latter.

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1 hour ago, Moonraker said:

 

I must look at my many other cards of soldiers actually on Salisbury Plain for traces of chalk dust and dried mud! :) Though quite a few, notably of the Canadians, show wet mud.

 

Perhaps the soldiers had already been billeted in Andover and had been assembled for a briefing or Church Parade -  not that some had made much effort to smarten up for the latter.

Yes your latter point is a sound one, it could be any kind of administrative ‘muster parade’, but way too unkempt for church as you suggest.  The dried mud and chalk dust gets right into the fibres of clothing and leaves a sort of cloudy stain that shows as discolouration on B&W photos.  The only way to get it out is with wet laundering, as even beating leaves a residue.  Canvas had to be scrubbed with mild soapy water and bass brooms and stout scrubbing brushes and then left in the sun to dry.  The large panels from marquees used as cookhouses were especially hard work to do.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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