Tonight we are looking at a 1940 calendar and class photograph for a group of young sailors. It has long been the tradition in the military to have a class photograph taken at the conclusion of training, the photographs being sold or given to participants as a souvenir of their time spent on the course. This particular photograph has been mounted on card, with a calendar hanging below:
The calendar dates to 1940:This would then date the photograph to late 1939 and so it dates from the very start of the war. The photograph itself shows a group of very young, possibly boy, sailors and their instructors:
It is interesting to note the many and varied angles that the ratings are wearing their caps:The caps themselves were perfectly round, rather than oval to follow the shape of the head, they thus pinched uncomfortably at the front and back of the head if they were worn in the regulation manner. It therefore became fashionable to wear them at various jaunty angles both for comfort and to make the wearer appear like an ‘old salt’, needless to sa many officers took a dim view of this! Just one of the likely instructors wears square rig; an older man, he also wears the high webbing naval leggings:He also appears to be wearing some sort of armband, but saddly its impossible to see what it is from the angle of the photograph. The rest of the instructors wear fore and aft rig, but the lack of rate badges on their sleeves suggests they are ratings rather than Petty Officers:
Whilst most seaman and stokers wore the standard square rig, a small number of mostly cooks and writers wore fore and aft rig. This was originally introduced to try and encourage more young men to go into these less popular branches, but was the source of some discontent on the lower deck and it was felt that all should be in square rig. The war delayed this transition though until the 1950s.
It is worth noting the glass in the building behind. This has been taped up to reduce the danger of flying glass in case of bomb damage:
The large Royal Crest on the balcony behind the sailors would suggest that they are training at a long established naval base rather than one of the newly set up temporary wartime camps:This calendar is a clever piece of design, once 1940 was completed, the calendar could be easily detached and the remaining photograph framed and kept for posterity. Happily for us this never happened and we are left with the combination as originally designed.