Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Is this a WW1 Military bandsman?


Rosie55
 Share

Recommended Posts

My cousin has given me a damaged and very battered photograph which belonged to her mother. Ours is not a big family and we only know of one casualty in WW1 but he was in the RND so presumably not this man. Neither of us knows anything about who this might be. The photograph looks as though it has been handled a lot so presumably was treasured. It was with WW2 photographs of my father but I think this is older than that. I may be completely wrong!

Can anyone, despite the damaged  condition, offer any information? His uniform may not even be a military uniform, though my daughter thinks that the cap badge is that of a military bandsman.  Any help much appreciated.

 

Mystery.jpg

Mystery H and S.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He’s a civilian bandsman from a municipal/town band.  At a time when people generally did not have music making machines in their homes such bands were prolific and a popular source of musical entertainment.  The type of tunic is typical for late Victorian bands and the style of cap came gradually into common usage from around 1900 onward. I would estimate the photo to be from around 1905.

NB.  In fairness to your daughter the cap badge does have some similarities with military insignia, the wreath is a common feature and the lyre had long been in use as a bandsman’s badge, albeit usually topped by a crown in the military.  The two images I’ve posted show the US Army bandsman’s badge circa 1898.

45BEE94C-B870-4EEC-BAB6-16321A6175B5.jpeg

5450AAE1-0442-49B7-9842-27CB8CF6E98B.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you so much for this information and the prompt reply. That date is useful, it rules several potential candidates out! I didn't think the uniform looked quite smart enough to be a military one and your comment confirms this. Much appreciated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

30 minutes ago, Rosie55 said:

Thank you so much for this information and the prompt reply. That date is useful, it rules several potential candidates out! I didn't think the uniform looked quite smart enough to be a military one and your comment confirms this. Much appreciated.

I’m glad to help.  I was intrigued to discover that his cap badge is very similar to that used by the US Army (hence no crown - see images above).  The British Army equivalent generally used a short wreath of oak leaves and acorns.

Edited by FROGSMILE
Link to comment
Share on other sites

55 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

I’m glad to help.  I was intrigued to discover that his cap badge is very similar to that used by the US Army (hence no crown - see images above).  The British Army equivalent generally used a short wreath of oak leaves and acorns.

Oh, interesting. That really would be a mystery, I don't know of anyone in the family who had connections with the USA. but someone in  our immediate family dearly treasured and handled the photograph and my aunt cared enough to preserve it with other family photographs. I am checking through my great-great-uncles now!

My daughter is an archivist at TNA and she had done some checking and their WW1 expert also confirmed that this was not military and suggested that he was a member of a colliery/town/works band and dated it to pre-WW1 so you are both consistent about that!

Edited by Rosie55
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Rosie55 said:

Oh, interesting. That really would be a mystery, I don't know of anyone in the family who had connections with the USA. but someone in  our immediate family dearly treasured and handled the photograph and my aunt cared enough to preserve it with other family photographs. I am checking through my great-great-uncles now!

My daughter is an archivist at TNA and she had done some checking and their WW1 expert also confirmed that this was not military and suggested that he was a member of a colliery/town/works band and dated it to pre-WW1 so you are both consistent about that!

Yes I was fairly confident about the dating.  Just to be clear I wasn’t suggesting that he was US Army, just that the cap badge, no doubt sold commercially, was very similar.  Not unusual really for the reasons that I explained.  Even today the lyre based badge is common for bands. 

Edited by FROGSMILE
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had thought that it might be WW1, though it was kept with later photographs. But having a more precise date does help to narrow down the possible candidates in the family. He certainly has a facial resemblance to my great grandfather and later generations so I shall continue checking this out. I have posted the picture on a Facebook page for the town where my family lived, someone may just be able to suggest a band in the area. It’s an intriguing mystery. I’m grateful for your help. I am in awe of the knowledge in this forum and the helpfulness, the speed of response was an extra bonus. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After your advice on the bandsman, I posted the picture on the Facebook page for the town my family lived in, asking which bands were in the area. Someone commented that a big local employer had a band . Searching the photographs archive on that page, I found this photograph of band members - and the uniform looks identical to me. So mystery slightly resolved though more work to be done to see whether I can identify him. 
So many helpful people out there! 

055FFB0A-8734-43A5-BD03-1023D79FE784.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

29 minutes ago, Rosie55 said:

After your advice on the bandsman, I posted the picture on the Facebook page for the town my family lived in, asking which bands were in the area. Someone commented that a big local employer had a band . Searching the photographs archive on that page, I found this photograph of band members - and the uniform looks identical to me. So mystery slightly resolved though more work to be done to see whether I can identify him. 
So many helpful people out there! 

055FFB0A-8734-43A5-BD03-1023D79FE784.jpeg

Yes that looks like the right band.  Strangely enough I was attested in Blackheath.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a coincidence- this is Blackheath near Birmingham which few people know of, not Blackheath, London - is that the same one?
Knowing where the photograph was taken limited the number of people this was likely to be. Looking at the earliest photograph I have of my grandfather, taken in the mid-twenties judging by my aunt’s age, my cousin and I now think this was my grandfather. The shape of the mouth, nose and eyes are the same. We did not know that he played an instrument nor in a band, nor that he ever worked for TWLench , the company whose band this was but he had numerous jobs, was certainly very musical and played the piano well so it’s possible. And if this was my grandmother’s first and probably only photograph of her sweetheart before they married in 1915, that might explain why it was so treasured. And why my aunt kept it. 
Wonderful how much information is available online now, mystery solved in just a few hours. 

F22CA15A-44C9-4598-8B37-EF03A10A054C.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes I think it’s the same man.  It’s great that you’ve solved the mystery.  I think that many more people could play an instrument back then, sometimes without being able to read music, and so ‘playing by ear’ as it was called, albeit that limited them to a few popular tunes.  Certainly my father’s family from the similar generations as yours, all either played piano or a brass or reed instrument.  Music in the parlour was a big thing for the emerging middle classes and some working class too.

 I was referring to Blackheath in London but had heard of the Birmingham area that shared that name.  

Edited by FROGSMILE
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...