Category Archives: postcard

HMS Bedford Postcard

This week’s Sunday night image is a fine Edwardian postcard of the cruiser HMS Bedford:SKM_C45817070409340 - CopyThis shows the ship dressed for some occasion, with bunting flying from her masts and an awning on her quarterdeck. This card was sent in 1905, as seen from the postmark on the back:SKM_C45817070409341I particularly like the message pencilled on ‘We saw lots of boats like this yesterday. Plymouth April 23rd’. HMS Bedford was a Monmouthshire Class armoured cruiser, launched in 1901.

Bedford was designed to displace 9,800 long tons (9,960 t). The ship had an overall length of 463 feet 6 inches (141.3 m), a beam of 66 feet (20.1 m) and a deep draught of 25 feet (7.6 m). She was powered by two 4-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines, each driving one shaft, which produced a total of 22,000 indicated horsepower (16,000 kW) and gave a maximum speed of 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph). The engines were powered by 31 Belleville boilers. Bedford was fitted for partial oil burning as an experiment and sported three elegant tall funnels:SKM_C45817070409340 - Copy - Copy (4)She carried a maximum of 1,600 long tons (1,626 t) of coal and her complement consisted of 678 officers and enlisted men. Her main armament consisted of fourteen breech-loading (BL) 6-inch Mk VII guns. Four of these guns were mounted in two twin-gun turrets, one each fore and aft of the superstructure:SKM_C45817070409340 - Copy - CopyThe others positioned in casemates amidships:SKM_C45817070409340 - Copy - Copy (2)Six of these were mounted on the main deck and were only usable in calm weather. They had a maximum range of approximately 12,200 yards with their 100-pound (45 kg) shells. Ten quick-firing (QF) 12-pounder 12 cwt guns were fitted for defence against torpedo boats. Bedford also carried three 3-pounder Hotchkiss guns and two submerged 18-inch torpedo tubes. The ship carried a number of boats:SKM_C45817070409340 - Copy - Copy (5)And in the foreground can be seen a steam launch:SKM_C45817070409340 - Copy - Copy (6)The ship’s waterline armour belt had a maximum thickness of four inches (102 mm) and was closed off by five-inch (127 mm) transverse bulkheads. The armour of the gun turrets and their barbettes was four inches thick while the casemate armour was five inches thick. The protective deck armour ranged in thickness from .75–2 inches (19–51 mm) and the conning tower was protected by ten inches (254 mm) of armour. She was controlled from an open bridge, typical of the period:SKM_C45817070409340 - Copy - Copy (3)Bedford, named after the English county, was laid down on 19 February 1900 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering at their Govan shipyard. She was launched on 31 August 1901, when she was christened by Charlotte Mary Emily Burns, wife of the Hon. James Cleland Burns, of the Cunard Line shipping family. In May 1902 she was navigated to Devonport for completion and trials. She was completed on 11 November 1903 and initially assigned to the 1st Cruiser Squadron of the Channel Fleet. Bedford was briefly placed in reserve at the Nore in 1906 before being recommissioned in February 1907 for service on the China Station. She was wrecked on 21 August 1910 at Quelpart Island in the East China Sea with 18 men killed. The wreck was subsequently sold for breaking up on 10 October 1910.

Captured German Guns Postcard

On Monday 11th January 1915, The Daily Mail published a letter from a Violet Bryce that read:

Sir- I see an announcement that about 150 of the captured German guns, including field guns, machine guns, howitzers and mortars are at present stored at Woolwich and that the authorities intend distributing them through the country as marks of appreciation of local success in recruiting.

An exhibition of these trophies of war before distribution would attract an immense number of visitors, and if a moderate entrance fee were charged a very large sum of money might be collected for the benefit of our soldiers and sailors.

Miss Bryce was actually very prescient, and in October 1916 the same paper reported, arrangements are being made for some of the guns captured form the enemy to be exhibited at home.

Tonight we are looking at a postcard of some of those German artillery pieces, captured and on display for the public:SKM_C45817041112510This card was an official photograph by the Daily Mail and was presumably sold at the location where the guns were on display as a souvenir for visitors.

It seems the British government were slow off the mark in displaying captured guns, but once they had realised the public interest it became commonplace to show off this booty and indeed after the war many towns and villages were presented with examples. Most of these are sadly long gone, scrapped in WW2 for their metal. Guns were allocated based on the size of settlement- the bigger the settlement the larger the gun they were presented with. A 1922 publication recorded:

“The War Trophies Committee was formed in November, 1916, the terms of reference being “to deal with all questions in regard to the distribution of trophies and watch the interests of the Imperial War Museum.” ~

When a claim for a gun etc, had been substantiated, the unit in question was asked its views as to the destination of the trophy, with the proviso that it went to a Regimental Depot, a recognized public body, or museum; up to present some 3,595 guns, 15,044 machine guns, 75,824 small arms and 7,887 other trophies had been distributed.

Large numbers of applications were received for allotment from County Authorities, Mayors and Corporations of cities and towns, Urban and Parish Councils and other communities. The Committee decided that allotment of the trophies to which no claim had been substantiated, had to be recommended by the Lord Lieutenant of the County.

A small number still exist and after years of neglect are now being appreciated once more. This example of a German trench mortar at Honing in Norfolk has recently been restored:_85246254_85244222

Union Jack Club Postcard

This week’s postcard is a fine image of the Union Jack Club in London, probably taken just before WW1:SKM_C45817062012280 - Copy (2)The Union Jack Club had been formed in the aftermath of the Boer War- a Red Cross nurse Ethel McCaul had noted that whilst officers had their own clubs in London, enlisted men visiting the capital had to make do with inns and guest houses. £60,000 pounds was quickly raised and the foundation stone was laid by the Prince of Wales in 1904, the building opening by the end of 1904. This photograph was taken early in the club’s history, judging by the dress of those standing outside the main entrance who look Edwardian from the civilian dress and uniforms:SKM_C45817062012280 - Copy (2) - CopyThe main entrance is particularly impressive, with a statue of a knight (presumably St George) above a glazed toplight with the name of the club picked out in stained glass:SKM_C45817062012280 - Copy (3) - CopyThe building was made of red brick and had the name repeated above the ground floor windows:SKM_C45817062012280 - Copy (4) - CopyOther architectural details include a carving of St George slaying the dragon:SKM_C45817062012280 - Copy (5) - CopyAnd large domed towers on the roof:SKM_C45817062012280 - Copy (6) - CopyThe building had 208 bedrooms and extensive public rooms such as libraries and billiard rooms for use by NCOs and men. During the two world wars, membership was extended from British enlisted personnel to Empire personnel so Canadians, South Africans and Australians could all use the facilities. Families were also welcome, a separate block being available for them, as recalled by one man who stayed there after World War 2:

I remember staying at the Union Jack Club as a child in the late 1950’s. It was a family holiday to London, our first visit to the capital. My father had served in the forces in WW2, so we benefitted from the cheap but clean and suitable accommodation. Without access to the club my parents would not have been able to afford to take us to London ( from Yorkshire).

The building was heavily bombed in World War 2 and in 1971 was demolished to be replaced with a much larger concrete edifice, opened by the Queen in 1976.

This postcard was clearly produced for the club and sold for the use of its visitors, as witnessed by their logo on the back:SKM_C45817062012290The club is still in existence, offering cheap accommodation for serving and ex-service men and women in the heart of London.

Camp Post Postcard

This week’s postcard is dated on the back 1913 and was sent from a Boy’s Brigade summer Camp in Grange over Sands. The image on the front though is clearly inspired by the summer camps operated by the Territorial Army before the Great War.SKM_C45817041112510 - CopyThe postcard is entitled ‘Camp Life, The Daily Post’ and has a cartoon of soldiers in khaki rushing to get their letters, with bell tents in the background. The Daily Mail in 1909 recorded the summer camp for London Territorials:

There was a great exodus of Volunteers from London on Saturday for the annual camp training.

Most of the London corps are being gathered in camps on the South Coast, and a very large proportion of them in Sussex, where for the time they come under the direction of General Lord Methuen, a large portion of whose regular troops of the Eastern command are already gathered for manœuvres in the country.

The Sussex camps for the London Volunteers have been formed at Brighton, Seaford, Worthing, Bexhill and Newhaven; while in Kent there are an extensive camp for London men at Shorncliffe and smaller ones at Sheerness, Lydd, and near Canterbury. In Hampshire a very large body of metropolitan Volunteers have gathered in camp in the New Forest, become in recent years an increasingly popular training ground; and Essex has London corps at Shoeburryness, Harwich, Clacton and Frinton.

In all the paper recorded that 25,000 men had left the capital for their annual training that August.

WW1 Postcard of Troops outside a Barrack Hut

This week’s postcard is a fine group shot from the Great War of soldiers posing outside a barrack hut:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (2)I suspect that this photograph was taken as part of a training course as the soldiers display a wide variety of cap badges. Three officers are seated in the centre:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (3)Regiments represented include the Royal Berkshires:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (4)Royal Army Medical Corps:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (6)Northumberland Fusiliers:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (5)Machine Gun Corps:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (7)And The Royal West Kent Regiment:SKM_C45817051611140 - CopyThe men display an interesting assortment of belts including leather 1914 pattern examples:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (8)And 2” wide webbing belts:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (9)I particularly like the jack russell dog being held by the chap on the front row:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (10)Other features to note are the duckboards the men at the front are sitting on:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (12)And the corrugated iron used in producing the hut behind them:SKM_C45817051611140 - Copy (11)Note also the palm frond and large sack leaned up against the hut. The essential role hutted accommodation played in the Great War is often overlooked, but it was the only way to quickly house recruits and men and hutted encampments sprang up all over Britain and France. These huts are largely all gone now, but many have survived as WI Halls, Scout Huts and Community Centres. A dedicated team of volunteers down south has been saving these buildings as they become earmarked for demolition and restoring them to their original splendour. Take a look here for more information on this fantastic project.

Life Guards Corporal of Horse Postcard

This week’s postcard is a lovely tinted image of a pair of Corporal Majors of the 1st Life Guards:SKM_C45817052313110 - CopyHappily this card was posted, meaning we can date it easily, the post mark on the back indicating it was sent in September 1907:SKM_C45817052313111 - CopyThe Life Guards are photographed in their ceremonial dress, with polished breastplates over red tunics:SKM_C45817052313110 - Copy - Copy (2)Plumed helmets:SKM_C45817052313110 - Copy - CopyWhite breeches and high black leather boots:SKM_C45817052313110 - Copy - Copy (3)And carrying swords:SKM_C45817052313110 - Copy - Copy (5)The rank of Corporal Major is unique to the Household Cavalry and is equivalent to a warrant officer rank. The ranks in the household cavalry are as follows:CaptureNon commissioned officers in the Household Cavalry do not wear badges of rank when in ceremonial dress, instead wearing a series of aiguellettes to indicate their rank:SKM_C45817052313110 - Copy - Copy (4)Very soon these elaborate dress uniforms were to be packed away as the regiment became one of the first to be sent to France at the outbreak of World War One, here we see the men in rather more sombre attire at Hyde Park Barracks as they prepare to leave:article-2610494-1D44A73200000578-663_964x570Soon after the declaration of war, one of the squadrons was detached to help form the Household Cavalry Composite Regiment, which moved to France with 4th Cavalry Brigade and saw action at Mons and in the subsequent withdrawal to and beyond the Marne, the decisive battle of the Marne, and later at Ypres. The Composite Regiment was broken up on 11 November 1914, and the squadron rejoined the regiment, which was by now itself on the Western Front.

The main body crossed to Belgium, landing on 8 October 1914. Other than in the first two weeks when it was used in the traditional cavalry, for mobile reconnaissance, it fought most of the war as a dismounted force.

The regiment was heavily involved at the First Battle of Ypres (October – November 1914); Second Ypres (April-May 1915); Loos (September-October 1915) and Arras (April 1917). At other times, it took its turn in holding various sections of the front line trenches, and at other times prepared to exploit breakthroughs in battle, but opportunities rarely presented themselves.

RAF Guttersloh Postcard

This week’s postcard is a bit of a departure from the norm as it dates from the 1980s and is rather late for this blog. RAF Guttersloh opened as a Luftwaffe base before the Second World War and during the latter part of the war was used as a night fighter base. It was captured by the Americans in April 1945 and was turned over to the RAF when the sector of Germany it was in became part of the British Occupation Zone. As the base was situated right on the border with East Germany it was to become a vital forward airbase in the Cold War.

During its history as an RAF station, it was home to two squadrons of the English Electric Lightning F2/F2A – No. 92 Squadron RAF and No. 19 Squadron RAF from 1968 to 1976. These provided two aircraft for the Quick Response Alert, able to scramble within minutes. It then became home to No. 3 Squadron RAF and No. 4 Squadron RAF which flew successive variants of the BAe Harrier. After the Harriers departed, the RAF continued to operate helicopters, No. 18 Squadron RAF with the Boeing Chinook and No. 230 Squadron RAF with the Puma HC1.

This souvenir postcard dates from the 1980s and depicts a couple of the barrack buildings:The base’s badge is shown in the top right corner:And the postcard shows two different blocks on the base, one of which seems fairly modern:And the other looks like it might date back to the base’s construction in the 1930s:Oddly the postcard does not depict any flight operations, therefore I hope you enjoy this cracking shot of a Harrier taking off from RAF Guttersloh:We have an interesting account of operations on the base during the Cold War from one airman who followed in his father’s footsteps to RAF Guttersloh:

When my father was stationed in Gütersloh (Mansergh Barracks) the RAF had Hawker Hunter FGA9 s based at Gütersloh. In 1962 they deployed Lightnings – anyone who never saw a “reheat-takeoff” performed by Lightnings is missing one of life’s greatest spectacles!. When I was deployed in BAOR, there were Wessex HC2 s and Harriers deployed there. It must have annoyed the hell out of the Soviets during the runway resurfacing programme – the RAF rotated the Choppers and Harriers to the airfield under construction, using Gütersloh (the first in the programme) as the temporary home for the displaced squadrons . No airfield was therefore out of commission – a master stroke!

RAF Guttersloh transferred to the Army in 1993 before closing completely in 2016. The base is currently unoccupied.