World War One Postcard of Soldiers Posing in Pith Helmets

This week’s postcard is an intriguing image with an unusual selection of kit on display. Dating from the time of the Great War, this postcard shows four soldiers standing in the mud outside a set of wooden barrack huts:SKM_C45817062711520 - Copy (5)The men are wearing woolen service dress, but three of them are also wearing Wolseley helmets which seem a little incongruous:SKM_C45817062711520 - CopyThe fourth man retains his service dress cap:SKM_C45817062711520 - Copy (2)The cap badges are clearly Royal Artillery, and this would also explain the 1903 bandoliers being worn:SKM_C45817062711520 - Copy (3)These were commonly issued to mounted and troops who were not infantry. The second man from left is wearing the double breasted mounted great coat:SKM_C45817062711520 - Copy (4)So what is happening in the photograph? I suspect that the men are about to go overseas and have just been issued with their new pith helmets, and like young soldiers of all generations they couldn’t help but pose for a photograph with their new headgear. Generally before shipping overseas, often for years at a time, a soldier would receive fourteen days leave and on his return would be issued his pith helmet and tropical kit before heading to the docks and a ship to foreign climes. Here we see men from the 2nd Battallion Grenadier Guards a few decades later being issued with Wolseley helmets before heading to Egypt in 1936:12002975_1058049424205637_7928923749095364454_n

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