Category Archives: WW1

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

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.

4th West Yorkshire Regiment Mess Table Knives

A few weeks back we looked at a mess table sauce bottle holder marked to the 4th West Yorkshire Regiment here. Tonight we are looking at a set of six knives marked to the same regiment:imageAs before my thanks go to the East Yorkshire Regiment Living History Group and Mike Lycett for their help in adding this to the collection. The knives are marked in a couple of ways. Three of them have a stamp on the blade saying ‘4th West York’:imageWhilst the other three have a cypher impressed into the bone handle, these are unfortunately rather indistinct:imageHere we can see the Prince of Wales feathers and the initials ‘WY’ for the regiment. The knives were made in Sheffield, as indicated on the blades:imageMost cutlery in the country was made in Sheffield in the first half of the twentieth century, the city having a worldwide reputation for quality and output. These knives predate stainless steel so have suffered from rust far more than later knives would. Again I suspect these date from around the time of the First World War.

West Yorkshire Regiment Sauce Bottle Trivet

Tonight we have another item of mess tableware, this time from the 4th battalion West Yorkshire Regiment. Again my thanks go to The East Yorkshire Regiment Living History group, and Michael Lycett in particular for help with adding this sauce bottle holder to my collection:This little trivet is only about three inches in diameter, but it is heavily engraved and has a scroll on one panel marked to the ‘Fourth West Yorks’ Regt.’:A lip is fitted to the inside of the trivet, to support the bottle of sauce and prevent its base touching the table:Three elegantly styled legs are fitted to the base to support the trivet and its contents:I do not have a date for this particular object, however a 4th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment existed during the Boer War and it was the service battalion of the Regiment throughout the First World War. The 4th West Yorkshire Regiment had originally been a militia regiment, but was a Special Reserve Battalion in York at the outbreak of war. In August 1914 it moved to Falmouth, then to Redcar in December 1915 and finally to West Hartlepool in April 1916 where it formed part of the Tees Garrison. I suspect that this item dates from nearer the Great War than the Boer War and is a nice survivor. I just need to find my WW1 era bottle of ‘Yorkshire Relish’ and see if it fits into the trivet…

1915 Sentimental Postcard

This week’s postcard takes a sentimental tone, with this image from the First World War:The verse on the front of the card reads:

Together in Thought

I look into your eyes and say,

Though from you I must go away,

Yet with you, dear, my heart will stay,

Until we meet again some day.

The photograph is clearly a studio shot, complete with studio props as the soldier is actually wearing the 1888 style leather bandolier, which was largely obsolete by this period:The postcard was sent in 1915, as witnessed by the postmark on the rear:The message is not the clearest, being written in pencil and subject to a hundred years of wear, but as best I can make out it reads:

Aug 19th 1915

Dear Agnes

Just a line hoping you’re all well as its leave time at present, I am just packing up to go to Swindon. I am going on ahead to the advance party so I shall be travelling all night as it is at the other side of London. All the others are coming on Friday. I was hoping to see you on Saturday but it cannot be helped. Tell old Wilson he is going to be with us as soon as ???? Best wishes your Harry.

It is always nice to get a postcard which has been used and helps tie down an exact date. These sentimental cards were hugely popular, but are largely ignored by collectors today- I rather like them as they reflect the senders emotions and feelings towards their loved ones in a way that often does not come across from other images and accounts.

WW1 Postcard of a Soldier on Horseback

This week’s postcard came from Huddersfield Secondhand Market on Tuesday for £1. It is getting harder to find postcards from WW1 for such small sums of money- even fairly typical portrait postcards are starting to fetch £3 or £4 now so it is always nice to find a more affordable card for the collection. Incidentally I store my WW1 postcards in a period postcard album and after nearly ten years it is almost full so I will need to keep my eyes open for another one…Back to this postcard however, this fine image depicts a soldier on horseback:I would date this image to around the time of the Great War. The subject is wearing a service dress cap, sadly it is not possible to get a clear enlargement of his cap badge to determine the regiment:He is wearing standard service dress, complete with puttees:And spurs:Note the hobnails of his boots, clearly visible. In his hand he holds a riding crop:There are no obvious signs of rank, so my guess is he is a private but sadly there is not a lot in this image to work with! The photograph seems to have been taken on the drive of a house, with the main road in the background. Unfortunately this image highlights many of the problems faced with interpreting these photographs. Without a message on the front or back of the image to place it and with the camera too far away to pick up the detail of the cap badge we are left with a lovely photograph we can say very little about! Whilst this is frustrating, it is a point worth making sometimes that further research is not always possible and we are left to enjoy the image for its own sake.

WW1 Regimentally Marked Spoon

Possibly the most important piece of equipment for a soldier is his spoon! World War one era military issue spoons are quite distinctive and tonight we are looking at a wonderfully marked example that has seen at least three users. My thanks go to Taff Gillingham for his help in filling in some of the blanks with this object. This spoon is particularly large, equivalent to a modern tablespoon, and has what is known as a ‘fiddle back’:This pattern of spoon was introduced in 1894 under pattern 3910/1894 and is made of cupronickel. It was to remain in service throughout the Great War, although it was supplemented by a new pattern in 1917 that more closely resembles the ‘teardrop’ handle of today. It is common to find one edge of the spoon sharpened and ground down, as in this example:This made it easier to get the spoon into every part of a D-Shaped mess tin and acted as a simple knife for cutting up food with. Soldiers tended to discard knives and forks and just carry a spoon, often to be seen tucked into their puttees:Veterans recalled that in the trenches the preferred method of cleaning a spoon after use was to push it into the ground two or three times until it was clean! Having said that if the mud was particularly thick then the spoon was often carried in the breast pocket for ease of access. This example belonged to various members of the 4th West Yorkshire Regiment as witnessed by the service numbers stamped into the front of the fiddle back:Further numbers are to be seen on the back, these are different and its seems this spoon went through the hands of at least three different men:Whilst this is unusual, it was not unheard of as kit tended to get recycled and reused. This spoon was a lucky find on eBay for 99p and is definitely a favourite of mine. It will be going into my wash roll with my WW1 kit and may well see service again!