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Khaki Chums at the Menin Gate


AlanCurragh
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A picture of the Chums in Ypres on Saturday night - looking splendid as ever.....

post-2705-1193732224.jpg

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Yes it is of interest - strangely errie seeing khaki at the Menin Gate

Chris

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We were there just a few weeks ago, seems a long time and so far away, thank you for this.

I was able to buy postcards at the shop nearby and we had drinks and pizza in Poppys afterwards. We were very quiet on our way back to Arras that night.

Cheers

Shirley

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MagicRat,

Well I certainly appreciate your effort in bringing this to the Forum. I would love to join the Khaki Chums, but know what my wife would think of such a suggestion. I do have one query though. Their uniforms; are all parts reproduction, or do they mix-and-match with some genuine parts - such as webbing? Where do they source their kit, as I would love to stealthy build up my own uniform.

Regards

Steve

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Steve - sadly I can't answer your questions - suggest you get in touch with Taff Gillingham - known as Chief Chum on the forum and holding the wreath in the picture

I'm sure he'd be happy to help...

Alan

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I am hardly one to talk about this and I do not mean to insult anyone pictured above, but one thing that always interests me is the physical size difference between this generation and that of 1914-1918. I have now researched in detail over 1000 individuals and have the service records of about a third - a decent sample. The average height from my sample is 5 feet 5 inches and average weight at enlistment 148 pounds. I can't imagine that anyone in the photo is below either measure. Quite a change in 90 years.

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I had not appreciated who the Khaki Chums were, and have spent a little time looking at their work - anyone with the title "the Association of Military Remembrance", actively researching Great War history, with a great emphasis on raising money for charity and sharing their knowledge, gets a big hurrah from me.

Thanks again MagicRat

Cheers

Shirley

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Is it the standard of living may be better, Chris? Food more plentiful, or more easily obtained, access to handouts for the poor?. Labour not so detrimental to the health or such long hours? I remember there was another thread with these sort of examples.

Some people don't like them, but how ever you feel about reenactors, or such, one hopes that the message is

To Remember.

Thanks for the photo, Magic.

Kim

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I have only seen the Chums once, at Loos in 2005. It was a reminder of what the soldiers at the time would have looked like even down to the mud on their boots.

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I have only seen the Chums once, at Loos in 2005. It was a reminder of what the soldiers at the time would have looked like even down to the mud on their boots.

Quite right, I know a few of the chums personally and they are all passionate about what they represent. Their respect for the fallen (and those who came home) is immense.

I take part in living history at museums and schools as a VAD. Not the starchy postcard image of the VAD, but the more realistic muddy, bloodstained women who played a vital role. We live in a very visual age and kids like to see, ask, smell (carbolic soap!) and try on items of kit and clothing. They come away with a deepr understanding.

Good on the chums. Nice to know someone cares!

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As to the difference in then & now sizes,just look at the suits of armour in Durham Uni hall.As if they were meant for kids!

As for top notch repro uniforms,talk to Steve at Pegasus.Best stuff there is by miles.

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I was at the Menin Gate on Saturday with 39 recruits from ATR Winchester; we formed up immediately behind the Chums. It was good to see the chums in accurate 1WW kit though I was unable to answer my platoon to the question why the Chief Chum appeared to salute his wreath laying, with his hand horizontal, palm down. On the basis of accuracy is that how 1WW soldiers were trained?

Glenn

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Glenn , I was not there , but would be very surprised if Taff gave an American style salute. although I don't doubt you, I think the word appeared may have come in to play . "MO"

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A number of years ago, the Chums were at the Menin Gate and approx 30 minutes after the ceremony, at dusk, they formed up at the Cloth Hall end of the gate and marched through it and away and out of sight to the east. A sight and sound I will never forget. They do a great job.

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Good evening all. Great to see so much interest as usual and thank you for all the comments.

Glenn - well spotted by your recruits (who were a credit to ATR Winchester by the way. It was great to see so many of them showing a real, genuine interest in Great War soldiers); I had been practising that salute for weeks!

The Chums were in Flanders for the 90th Anniversary of the capture of Varlet Farm, Poelkapelle by men of the 63rd Royal Naval Division on 26th October 1917. As it was a 'back-to-basics' tour we arrived in Ypres on Wednesday lunchtime and set off, in marching order (with exact full kit), and stomped up to Varlet Farm on foot. We based ourselves at Varlet Farm for the unveiling of the plaque on Friday commemorating the farm's capture for which we had raised the money.

As we were commemorating the RND we had researched all the uniforms, equipment and insignia. This included having to have all the shoulder titles cast, the battle patches made, and some of the division insignia made for the Divisional Troops. It is very clear from the research that the Naval Battalions within the division retained their Royal Navy salutes to the bitter end although the army Battalions of 190 Brigade and the Royal Marines and Divisional Troops used the standard Army salute. It is pretty hard to remember a different salute after using the army style for so long so I'm glad your fellas spotted it and proved I didn't use the army one by mistake!

People are certainly larger now. In another parallel universe I co-own the company which supplied all the kit for ITV's 'Bad Lad's Army'. In the last series well over a third of the 'recruits' were OVER 6' 3" tall - at least 1" taller than any standard Battledress uniforms made during the 1950s.

That said, I do have an original Boer War tunic which fits me and two Great War Suffolk Regiment Officers tunics (belonging to different officers) which both fit (and one is too big for me). It is also worth noting that, although Chris is right to point out that the average soldier was 5' 5" and 148lb at enlistment, there must have been a considerable variety; the List of Changes (17219) introducing the new Infantry Equipment, Pattern 1914 on 30th August 1914 showed two sizes of waistbelt (Large: 48" and Small: 42"). This is the full length including the turnbacks for adjustment. However, on 9th April 1915 LoC 17220 includes the addition of "Extra Large" waistbelts of 52". Even allowing for 10" of turnbacks one of these belts would fit any of the men on parade on Saturday night - and would drown most of them. There must have been a requirement for these extra large belts. If they were only needed in tiny numbers I'm sure that belts could have been modified at Battalion level or one-offs made. To introduce a specific new size there must have been quite a demand.

We certainly do mix and match real and repro kit but most of the stuff that will wear out is now repro. We had repro Service Dress made to a very high standard a couple of years ago and most Chums on the tour were wearing it. You can find it on the Khaki Devil website (although the National Theatre have just bought a very large quantity for their current production, 'Warhorse' so some sizes are now out of stock). The best repro 1908 webbing we have come across so far is the Aussie stuff made by Lawrance Ordnance in Sydney although our own 1914 Pattern leather equipment is the best stuff I have seen. Dickie Knight and Steve Kiddle both make very good repro kit. That said, there is an awful lot of very, very bad kit out there too and, as the Chums have very high standards, only certain suppliers are approved for Chums use (and sometimes only certain bits of kit from some suppliers as they may make some kit very well but other stuff appallingly badly! I'm always happy to point you in the direction of the best suppliers if you send me an email or PM.

Once again, thank you for all your comments - and thank you to everyone who came to the unveiling of the new plaque and helped make the day go so well; it was a real honour to meet the grandson of Arthur Asquith who commanded Hood battalion on the day - and we were delighted that he brought the original Battalion Flag with him.

Cheers,

Taff

Chief Chum

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Good Day Chums... especially to you 'Taff',

Superb photo, and you have my admiration also. The ceremony your chaps are taking part in must be the most moving of any that I could mention. Your very prescence there shows to all around the world that WE HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN!

I would like to ask you a question if I may?

I am the founder of a British WW.1 reenactment/living history group... the 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers... here in California. We formed in May of this year and have four active members with nearly '30' in the wings. It is my known intention to take our group over to the WW.1 battlefields in 2014 as a centenary rememberance, and to join with any rememberance celerations that may be apparent at that time. It would be a fitting final to our visit to be able to place ourselves in the position that your group has enjoyed.. illustrated by the photograph submitted in post:1. Could you give me any information on the criteria required or enquiries needed in order to do this?

My thanks in anticipation,

Seph

Sgt-Maj: 2/LF, Co:A.

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but would be very surprised if Taff gave an American style salute. although I don't doubt you, I think the word appeared may have come in to play . "MO"

Doh ! ;) unless of course it was a Naval salute . "MO" (well done Taff )

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quote: "As we were commemorating the RND we had researched all the uniforms, equipment and insignia. This included having to have all the shoulder titles cast, the battle patches made, and some of the division insignia made for the Divisional Troops. It is very clear from the research that the Naval Battalions within the division retained their Royal Navy salutes to the bitter end although the army Battalions of 190 Brigade and the Royal Marines and Divisional Troops used the standard Army salute. It is pretty hard to remember a different salute after using the army style for so long so I'm glad your fellas spotted it and proved I didn't use the army one by mistake!"

Well done, Taff

and thanks

Michael

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Thank you Taff, relieved I wasn’t seeing things and I can satisfy myself that both the recruits and my attention to detail has not diminished. Noted the Chums dining in Den Anker and I recall your menu was a little more than ham, egg and chips!

Regards,

Glenn

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Den Anker seemed an appropriate place for the RND to eat - and I can recommend the fillet of beef with port and honey! Mind you, our Galley had turned out some truly excellent food on two Soyer stoves at Varlet Farm; full marks to LS 'Hookey' Doherty and L/Cpl Jack Johnson for their catering...

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