This week’s postcard is quite nice in showing a group of soldiers as they looked on active service in World War one. Most studio postcards are taken of men in their best uniforms, all polished and ironed but in France it was not uncommon for a group of men to have their pictures taken in their everyday uniforms and this helps paint a more accurate picture of what soldiers actually looked like in the field. This postcard then was taken in Paris at some point in World War One:It shows three men of the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment and they are definitely on the scruffy and dishevelled end of the spectrum. They are each wearing the utility version of service dress, with simple patch pockets and a less fitted cut, the presence of items in their pockets adds to the crumpled and dishevelled look:Other features to note include the use of five buttons up the front of the uniform, the lack of protective rifle patches on the shoulders- this simplified pattern was introduced in late 1914 to speed up production of uniforms. The caps are also distinctive as the stiffening wire has been removed so they have a much softer and less structured look than pre-war service dress caps:This made them far more practical as they could be folded up and put in a pocket, worn over a balaclava or under a scarf etc. Note also the lack of any brass shoulder titles in the picture above: brass was a strategic supply so efforts were made to reduce its use in non-essential items. The intricate lettering of shoulder titles was also lengthy to produce so quantities of shoulder titles went into decline and often men were not issued them and either had to scrounge some from somewhere or go without.
Boots in the postcard are again indicative of this being taken on active service, they are not polished and are merely waterproofed:These boots look well used and worn and the supply of army boots was a constant problem to the British Army. Although supplies never dried up, many new manufacturers were accepted and often the quality was far less than would have been acceptable in the pre-war military.
This postcard, despite being a studio photograph, ha some interesting features that make it a little more unusual than the normal examples of this genre.