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Here we have a soldier named W. N. Johnsey serving with the Royal Horse Guards (RHG). I guess the photo is taken just before this unit departed for France or during his stay there. I don't know much about English WW1 uniforms, but I guess he wears a field kaki uniform and a M1903, 9 pocket 90 round cavalry Bandolier.

 

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Nice! I guess they are RAF pilots, right? :smile:/>

 

My first post!

 

They're actually Royal Air Force 'Other Ranks' (ie NCOs or Airmen), obviously 'larking about' with a flying helmet! The first, obvious, pointer to them being non-flying personnel is the absence of pilot brevets ('wings') or the half-wings of observers (and from 1939 the half-wings of a host of other specialities, such as 'navigator', or 'air-gunner'); Second, they're wearing the serge 1936-pattern open-collar Service Dress tunic (with trousers) for RAF Other Ranks. This replaced the peaked cap, closed collar tunic, breeches and puttees worn previously (basically, a blue-grey version of army service dress, minus the shoulder straps), and gave RAF Other Ranks a uniform similar to that always worn by RAF officers (though officers' uniforms were made in finer barathea cloth, had buttons on all pockets [Other Ranks just buttons on the breast pocket flaps], bright pale-blue shirts [Other Ranks dull blue-grey] and, of course, sleeve-cuff rank insignia rings). Also, tucked into the integral cloth-belt of the 'pilot' is a 1936-pattern Field-Service cap with Other Ranks cap-badge (as used on the old-style peaked Service Dress cap). We can also say they are not aircrew cadets, engaged in flying training, as the peak of the Field-Service cap does not have the white tape which distinguished such cadets until the awarding of their half-wings.

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The soldier is British, wearing the black beret and cap badge of the Royal Tank Regiment. He wears the one-piece khaki-green 'Denim Tank Suit' (introduced 1944), designed as an overall to be worn over underclothing and shirt in summer, or over the khaki Battle-Dress uniform in winter/ cold weather. The period is the post-war 'National Service' era, 1949-63, when conscription was in force, and a variation on the wartime khaki Battle-Dress still the issue uniform. My father served during this period (Sapper, Territorial Army 1958-60; National Service Sapper 1960-63), and looked very much the same; the ballpoint writing in German is only fitting for a man serving in BAOR (British Army of the Rhine), writing a message for German friends/ sweethearts, as indeed are on my Father's photographs (he spoke German).

 

http://www.army-surplus.co.uk/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/900x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/i/m/image_1669.png

Edited by cmf
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Thank you very much! :LaieA_050:

 

My first post! They're actually Royal Air Force 'Other Ranks' (ie NCOs or Airmen), obviously 'larking about' with a flying helmet! The first, obvious, pointer to them being non-flying personnel is the absence of pilot brevets ('wings') or the half-wings of observers (and from 1939 the half-wings of a host of other specialities, such as 'navigator', or 'air-gunner'); Second, they're wearing the serge 1936-pattern open-collar Service Dress tunic (with trousers) for RAF Other Ranks. This replaced the peaked cap, closed collar tunic, breeches and puttees worn previously (basically, a blue-grey version of army service dress, minus the shoulder straps), and gave RAF Other Ranks a uniform similar to that always worn by RAF officers (though officers' uniforms were made in finer barathea cloth, had buttons on all pockets [Other Ranks just buttons on the breast pocket flaps], bright pale-blue shirts [Other Ranks dull blue-grey] and, of course, sleeve-cuff rank insignia rings). Also, tucked into the integral cloth-belt of the 'pilot' is a 1936-pattern Field-Service cap with Other Ranks cap-badge (as used on the old-style peaked Service Dress cap). We can also say they are not aircrew cadets, engaged in flying training, as the peak of the Field-Service cap does not have the white tape which distinguished such cadets until the awarding of their half-wings.
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Hi ionionescu,

 

I’ve noticed elsewhere that you’ve been looking for information regarding this man, and I thought I’d offer you some information! British uniforms of the Great War are my speciality, as is military genealogy for the period (I’m researching all the men from my town and district who served during 1914-18).

 

I’ll go through the photographic evidence first, in which I’ll comment on the uniform, insignia and accoutrements, showing how, though khaki Service Dress was worn from 1902 to 1939, we can date this man to the Great War period. Second, I’ll look at the surviving official records. I see from elsewhere someone has already given you his regimental service number, from his Medal Index Card, which I’ll comment on in more detail later.

 

2131, Trooper William H. Johnson, Royal Horse Guards (The Blues), is photographed here after August, 1914. We can be sure of that because when the Household Cavalry (which before 1922 comprised the 1st Life Guards, 2nd Life Guards, and the Royal Horse Guards [The Blues]) wore khaki Service Dress for first time on home service during the 1913 manoeuvres, King George V noted that they had no badge for the Service Dress cap. His Majesty subsequently offered a design suggestion, which was duly adopted: the Royal Cypher surrounded by a circlet and ensigned with Imperial Crown, the circlet in each case inscribed with the title of the regiment. For the The Royal Horse Guards (The Blues), this was Royal Horse Guards. These badges, in bronzed metal, were first issued on the outbreak of war in 1914. We see it on the 1905 pattern stiff-crowned khaki serge Service Dress cap for ‘Other Ranks’, with brown leather chin strap (worn under the chin by mounted troops when on duty). This cap was regulation wear for all Warrant Officers, NCOs and men of English, Welsh and Irish units of the Regular Army, across all Arms and Services (the Glengarry cap was the regulation headdress for the Regular Army’s Scottish regiments in 1914, both Highland and Lowland).

 

As regards the rest of his uniform, he wears the 1902 universal pattern Service Dress jacket for ‘Other Ranks’. This was highly standardised, worn across all Arms and Services of the Regular Army, in the United Kingdom and temperate climes . It was cut to have a loose fit, to permit a waistcoat or cardigan sweater to be worn underneath in cold weather. The jacket, which had a stand-and-fall collar, khaki in colour (officially known as ‘Drab’) and manufactured from serge, was single breasted with 5 large brass buttons positioned down the front. Service Dress jackets were issued with brass ‘General Service’ (GS) buttons (embossed with the Royal Arms) attached, with only ‘Rifle’ regiments having official sanction to replace GS buttons with black horn buttons, decorated with a bugle (despite this, many historic regiments replaced the GS buttons with those of regimental pattern, taken from Full Dress tunics).

 

The front of the jacket was strengthened with ‘rifle patches’ on the shoulders, while the back had a wide expanding pleat. On the chest were two, box-pleated, patch breast pockets, together with two, inset, slash side-pockets on the jacket skirts. All pockets had rectangular flaps, each fastened by a single small GS button.

 

His jacket is the form current in 1914, with the sewn-in khaki serge shoulder straps (fastened by small GS buttons), and metal shoulder-titles, as introduced from late 1906 (these replaced twisted cord straps, which in turn had replaced piped, detachable, shoulder straps). The shoulder-titles, indicating in full or abbreviated form the wearer’s regiment or corps, were in brass, and replaced (except for the Foot Guards) the curved embroidered regimental designations hitherto worn on the upper arm since 1902. The Royal Horse Guards, having only adopted Service Dress in 1913, were only ever issued the metal title, in their case comprising the initialism RHG.

 

The white, plaited cord, lanyard around his left shoulder is not a dress embellishment, in the narrow regimental sense. Instead, it is a functional item, worn to secure the 1905 pattern Clasp Knife, to prevent loss; the knife itself was stored in the left breast pocket (the right breast pocket, by regulation, holding a ‘Soldiers’ Small Book’, or on mobilization, his ‘Soldier’s Pay Book for use on Active Service’). Comprising blade, tin opener, and marline spike, the Clasp Knife was the regulation hoofpick of the British Army, and before 1914 only on general issue to mounted troops (whether Household Cavalry, Line Cavalry, Royal Artillery, Army Service Corps, etc etc). As a result therefore, by default, the white lanyard became the mark of Other Ranks of the ‘Mounted Services’ (however, this distinction became somewhat watered down after mobilization in 1914, when Clasp Knives, and their lanyards, became a general issue to all troops, dismounted as well as mounted).

 

After 1924, Service Dress jackets for Other Ranks not only became closer fitting, but had higher collars, regimental collar insignia (though not in the Foot Guards or Household Cavalry), and were worn with regimental-pattern buttons. Though the rest of the army continued to wear brass shoulder-titles, in the early 1930s the Household cavalry adopted curved embroidered regimental designations, mirroring the style of the Foot Guards: for the Royal Horse Guards (The Blues), this was ROYAL HORSE GUARDS in red lettering on a dark blue backing.

 

Netherwear comprises a pair of 1902 pattern khaki Bedford cord breeches, known officially as ‘Pantaloons, Cord’, which were regulation issue to all ‘Other Ranks’ serving with ‘Mounted Services’. The leather strapping on the inner legs can clearly be seen in the photograph. Although this strapping was officially replaced by fabric for breeches manufactured after 1907, these leather patches were still widely seen on breeches issued during, and manufactured throughout, the Great War, and valued for their smart appearance. From 1916, breeches were manufactured from the same khaki serge material as the trousers worn by the ‘Dismounted Services’. Standard issue khaki serge puttees issued to Other Ranks, both Mounted and Dismounted, are worn; the only differential was that while ‘Mounted Services’ wound them from just below the knee to the boot, ‘Dismounted Services’ wound them in the opposite direction (however, motor drivers wore black leather ‘Spring Front’ leather leggings, and motor-cyclists the same, but in brown).

 

He wears the Regular Army’s regulation boots in 1914, the B2 pattern, introduced in 1913. Since 1902, the British Army’s boots had been made with the hide reversed, and issued covered in grease to protect the natural leather. Normally just dubbined for protection, boots were only permitted to be blacked for Full-Dress parades and ‘Walking-Out’. However, when on duty/leave in the United Kingdom, regimental whim/personal pride often held sway (certainly within the Household Cavalry) and no doubt this man’s boots are suitably blacked and highly polished (in 1917 blackening of boots was totally forbidden, with the express exception of those Household Cavalry and Foot Guards units based in the United Kingdom). Standard Jack Spurs for mounted Other Ranks are worn (Officers would have had foot chains passing under the boot, instead of a strap), their natural leather components blacked also if worn with polished boots. New patterns of boots were introduced in 1915, 1918 and 1920; during the 1920s, boots began to be issued with the leather dyed black.

 

Trooper Johnson wears the ‘Bandolier Equipment, Pattern 1903’. This had been introduced in 1903 for all Arms and Services of the Regular Army, both dismounted and mounted. For all troops, the essential element of this equipment was a brown leather cartridge bandolier, cut on a curve to fit over the left shoulder. Dismounted men were issued the ‘Bandolier, 50 rounds’, with five cartridge pockets rivetted to the front, each pocket holding 10 rounds of .303-inch ammunition in two, 5-round, chargers. Cavalrymen, as we see here, were issued the ‘Bandolier, 90 rounds’, which had four additional 10-round cartridge pockets rivetted to the back; all other mounted troops were issued the ‘Bandolier, 50 rounds’. Although the Bandolier Equipment for dismounted troops also included a brown leather waistbelt (supporting two pairs of cartridge pockets, and a mess tin in a khaki canvas cover), plus khaki webbing straps to carry the greatcoat - these items worn in conjunction with various, separate, patterns of bayonet frog, haversack, and water bottle carrier - for mounted troops it was far more basic: as much was carried on the saddle, the equipment on the man was simply bandolier, haversack, and water bottle.

 

After a few years in service, however, it became clear that the ‘Bandolier Equipment, Pattern 1903’ was not proving a success, at least as infantry equipment. It was uncomfortable to wear, time consuming to put on and off, and the items carried were not easily accessible in the field. As a result, in 1908 the Bandolier Equipment began to be replaced in the ‘Dismounted Services’ of the Regular Army by the far superior ‘Web Equipment, Pattern 1908’. The ‘Mounted Services’, however, found the bandolier adequate for their needs, and retained the pattern 1903. Thus, after 1908, and during the Great War, bandoliers became another distinguishing feature of the British mounted soldier (though a few Territorial Force infantry battalions persisted using the Bandolier Equipment during 1914-18).

 

Trooper Johnson has a moustache. ‘King’s Regulations and Orders for the Army’ forbade shaving the upper lip. Although more vigorously enforced in some regiments/ corps than others (and especially in the Foot Guards and Household Cavalry!), moustaches were nearly universal amongst the men of the pre-war Regular Army. The influx of new recruits during the war put a strain on this adherence, and the regulation was finally rescinded in 1916.

 

Now to look at the surviving official documentation for Trooper Johnson. In 1940, a Luftwaffe raid on London destroyed about 60% of the Service Records of those Other Ranks of the British Army who had been discharged before 1920. Therefore, for most men the only ‘official’ document of service is their entitlement to gallantry or campaign medals, for overseas service. Medal entitlement was administered by the Record Offices of the regiments or corps in which the man was last serving before he was discharged from the army. They compiled medal rolls, bound into large volumes, which the National Archives now hold. There are hundreds and hundreds, as you would expect. Luckily, as an alphabetical ‘short cut’ to the rolls, a central, index-card based filing system was created – these are the Medal Index Cards (MIC), and Trooper Johnson’s is below (one of five million!). I have searched for his Service Record, but can find none surviving (ironically, if he had stayed in the Household Cavalry, their records having been kept separately, it would still exist!). There is a chance, however, that he served in World War II – in that case, his records are still kept by the Ministry of Defence, open only to Next-of-Kin; either way, for now his MIC is all we have to interpret.

 

 

We see William H. Johnson first entered an operational ‘Theatre of War’ on 21st October, 1915, namely the ‘Western European’ theatre (indicated by the alphanumeric code (1)), and, specifically, France (meaning ‘France & Belgium’). From this date, the card shows the regiments/ corps with which he served, top to bottom in order from first landing until 11th November, 1918. Thus, on his arrival in France & Belgium, in 1915, he was a Trooper, regimental number 2131, in the ‘R.H.Gds’ (Royal Horse Guards). His arrival date qualified him for the ‘1914/15 Star’. His overseas military service generally between 1914-18 also qualified him for the standard Great War campaign medal pair, the ‘British War Medal 1914-20’ (BWM), and the ‘Victory Medal’ (VM). We see that during the war, William Johnson was transferred to the ‘A.P.C.’ (Army Pay Corps), service number 23151, his Household Cavalry rank of ‘Trooper’ converting to that of ‘Private’ (the Army Pay Corps provided the Other Rank clerks who kept soldiers’ pay records; their officers were members of the Army Pay Department). However, as Other Ranks’ medals were impressed with a man’s name and regimental details of the unit with which he was first serving on landing overseas, we see on the MIC a ‘X’ where the clerk indicates to the naming machine operator the correct information to enter. As stated above, being Johnson’s last regiment or corps before discharge, it was the Record Office of the Army Pay Corps which compiled his entries in their medal rolls: their location within the relevant bound volumes can be seen in the references prefixed by ‘APC’.

 

William H. Johnson’s trio of medals was sold at auction in 2000. See:

 

http://www.dnw.co.uk...ls&lot_id=23413

 

Finally, we can determine William Johnson’s dates of enlistment and transfer by examining the surviving service records of those troops with service numbers close to his. 2132, Trooper Morris James Avery enlisted into the Royal Horse Guards on the 10th November, 1914, so Johnson may have enlisted the same, or previous day. 23148, Private J.B. Coulthurst joined the Army Pay Corps on 19th September, 1918, so Johnson must have transferred into the APC, and been given his new number, in the days following. In the ‘Remarks’ section of Johnson’s MIC, we see the letter ‘Z’ written. This indicates Private Johnson was demobilized at some point after 3rd December, 1918, and placed in the ‘Class Z Reserve’. Men posted to this reserve went back to civilian life, but with the obligation to return to service to service if required by the government – it was an insurance policy against Germany not accepting the term of any peace treaty. The ‘Class Z Reserve’ was abolished on the 31st March, 1920.

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Edited by cmf
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Слева в черном берете - солдат Королевского танкового полка (Royal Tank Regiment).

 

A fine study of two typical Tommies in late war, off-duty uniform, circa 1945. As Freiwillige says, the soldier on the left is from the Royal Tank Regiment (RTR), and is either a Trooper or Warrant Officer (who wore rank insignia on both forearms). The man on the right is a Corporal of the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME).

 

Both are wearing the 1942 pattern ‘Austerity’ Battledress (BD). This was conspicuously different from the 1937 and 1940 patterns of BD in having all buttons on the front, pockets and cuffs exposed, and also by having the breast pockets left unpleated. In December, 1944, an Army Regulation permitted ‘Other Ranks’ to wear collar-attached shirt and tie when off-duty. Although the Trooper (?) is wearing slip-on shoulder strap ‘flashes’, various colours denoting the various battalions of the RTR, neither he nor the Corporal are wearing any kind of regimental designation, formation badge or arm-of-service strip on the upper arms: these were removed for embarkation overseas, and once disembarked only resumed when specifically ordered to be so by the Commander-in-Chief of the overseas command concerned.

 

The ‘tanky’ is wearing the black beret introduced in 1924 for the Royal Tank Corps (renamed the Royal Tank Regiment in 1939), with the cap badge worn 1924-55. The REME Corporal wears the khaki ‘Cap, General Service’. Nicknamed ‘Cap, Ridiculous’ by troops, the fact it was not a true beret, and difficult to make it look ‘smart’, made it unpopular; and though introduced from September 1943 to replace the universal pattern khaki Field Service cap, many men held on to the ‘side-cap’ for as long as possible. He wears the first pattern of cap badge adopted by the REME, worn 1942-47.

 

http://www.mycollectors.co.uk/StockPhotos/badges/Cap-Badges/REME-Cap-Badge-kc-lge.jpg

 

Both men are wearing the ribbon of the ‘Africa Star’ campaign medal, awarded for operational service in North Africa between 10th June, 1940, and 12th May, 1943. Although the medal itself was not issued until after the war, the ribbon was distributed to qualifying personnel from late 1943. On the ribbon itself, both men are wearing a silver number 8, denoting their award of the '8th Army' clasp to the medal, for service with that formation between 23rd October, 1942 and 12th May, 1943.

 

http://www.rememberingscotlandatwar.org.uk/Accessible/Image/GetImage/360/-/4c304596-f1a0-43c6-87e2-0fb1858e8b59.jpg

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