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Nick Smith

Can anyone identify these uniforms

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Hi, I wonder if anyone could give me any idea what these 'uniforms' could be, there isn't much to go on I'm afraid. I'm particularly interested in the man standing who joined up for the war with the Wiltshire Regiment 5th Battalion in September 1914 at Devizes but was moved to the 6th Battalion before the regiment was shipped to Boulogne-sur-Mer. He was a despatch rider on a bicycle in France, riding between the officers and the front line to deliver messages/orders. He was captured by the German army near Cambrai in late 1917. He became a prisoner of war in the coal mines of Silesia and was released at the end of the war. Would a despatch rider have a different uniform than other members of the regiment? There are other photographs in which he is wearing a 'more standard' soldier uniform. Not sure of the photo date.

Any help would be much appreciated

Thanks

Nick

post-86482-0-50870400-1325954532.jpg

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Hi nick i think the picture is of the time when he was a pow someone will be along to give you an answer but i beleive they are prisoners at time.john

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Yes, POWs for sure.

Hopefully, there'll be a more knowledgeable person along but I think the dark blue uniform worn by the man standing was sent out to the camps by the British authorities - presumably via the Red Cross - to replace any that had been worn-out.

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Yes, POWs for sure.

Hopefully, there'll be a more knowledgeable person along but I think the dark blue uniform worn by the man standing was sent out to the camps by the British authorities - presumably via the Red Cross - to replace any that had been worn-out.

Yes Jim, I believe you are correct on both counts. Unfortunately they do not have any visible insignia so all that we can tell is that they are both PoW.

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Thanks very much for this info, we did wonder if they were POW uniforms but thought it seemed a bit strange they were photographed like this - I could imagine a 'mug shot' but not a posed photo. Was this done to send home a show they were safe?

Thanks again

Nick

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Thanks very much for this info, we did wonder if they were POW uniforms but thought it seemed a bit strange they were photographed like this - I could imagine a 'mug shot' but not a posed photo. Was this done to send home a show they were safe?

Thanks again

Nick

I don't know if there was an official reason, but as such photos are quite common I imagine that they must have been encouraged by the Germans as showing them as a civilised adversary and countering some of the wilder claims in the British media, which was in many cases as rabid then as it (arguably) is now. I also imagine that it was a lucrative trade for the German photographers close to the PoW camps. The conditions for prisoners became progressively worse as the effects of the allies embargoes on goods and blockading of ports began to be felt and I surmise that such photos became rarer as the war went on.

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John Bodsworth book on 1914-18 uniforms has an interesting section on POW uniforms ( page 397-398 ), which confirms that

the photograph posted by Nick, is that of British POWs.

It does not say in which POW Camp the photographs were taken, and all the men appear to be in good health, well fed, well groomed, and with the photographs all taken against a backdrop as in a posed studio photograph ?

The book states " That jackets had a piece of brown drill material inset into the left arm, whilst similar material was inset into the outer legs of the trousers ". Some POWs also had a label sewn above their uniform left breast pocket showing their POW number.

There are 3 photographs of POWs shown :-

Photo 1. " of 3 British POWs in Germany. The centre figure is wearing the standard pattern of Service Dress, ... He is wearing shoulder titles with a flaming grenade above.. at the same time, he is wearing a Royal Scots cap badge normally worn with a Glengarry. The soldier on the left, is wearing a plain dark blue uniform...with an armlet, while his trousers have a wide stripe sewn down the outside. He is wearing an Essex Regiment cap badge.

The soldier on the right is wearing a different jacket,( again with an armband ), and on his cap, he appears to be wearing an Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders collar badge. "

post-63666-0-86831300-1329513978.jpg

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Photograph No.2

" A British POW wearing a knitted jersey and tie. This has been noted being worn by a number of POWs, unfortunately it has not been possible to ascertain whether they were presents from home, bought locally or knitted by the soldiers themselves. "

post-63666-0-74390900-1329514391.jpg

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Photograph No.3

" Group photo of POWs wearing a mixture of uniforms... some are wearing labels above their breast pockets with their numbers on. "

post-63666-0-28591000-1329514718.jpg

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Photograph No.2

" A British POW wearing a knitted jersey and tie. This has been noted being worn by a number of POWs, unfortunately it has not been possible to ascertain whether they were presents from home, bought locally or knitted by the soldiers themselves. "

The museum in Ashford has an original example on display that is identical, supposedly knitted by the chap who wore it with needles made from barbed wire (presumably using some sort of commercially available pattern since it appears not to be unique):

http://postimage.org/image/51umvmtkb/full/

RIMG1209.jpg

http://postimage.org/image/5mlnll7oh/full/

RIMG1210.jpg

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Andrew,

Great photos, seems to be an almost identical knitted jersey.

Leo

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Hi,

the 'tunic' is an official german issue to POW's, as shown and described in Kraus. Here's a quick pic of the page concerned (sorry for the flash).

powkra10.jpg

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