This week’s photograph is an interesting view of the parade ground at a Royal Naval base:Unfortunately the image is undated and we have no idea where it was taken, my guess is that it dates to the Second World War or just after and if anyone can recognise the location please comment below! The most obvious way of identifying it is a Royal naval base is the mast flying the white ensign in the centre of the photograph:These masts take the place of the jack on a ship from which a white ensign is flown, sailors outside of buildings when ‘colours’ are piped have to stand still, face the direction of the mast and salute it whilst the ensign is lowered, before the carry on is piped and they can continue on their way!
This photograph seems to have been taken during ‘divisions’ and a number of different groups of sailors are on the parade ground in groups awaiting inspection:Other groups are still marching to the square:In the background can be seen a number of accommodation blocks, made of concrete and the faint outlines of camouflage paint can just be made out, again indicating the shot was taken either during or just after World War 2:In the foreground can be seen one of the playing fields used for playing football or hockey, one of the two goal posts easily visible:A solitary vehicle is parked on the right of the photograph and I suspect that this vehicle is in use as a staff car and is sitting in front of either the base commander’s offices or the administration block:Shore bases were essential to the Royal Navy for both transit accommodation and for training purposes. It was far easier to train a sailor in the theories of wireless or radar in a classroom on land than aboard an old ship moored in a river as had traditionally been the case. Throughout the Second World War more and more bases were opened up on land either for training or to house sailors awaiting their draft to a ship. After the war the Royal Navy pretty much abandoned the use of hulks for teaching bases and instead relied upon shore establishments, many next to the coast. Although a lot of these bases have shut over the subsequent 75 years, some still remain and they are still used for teaching officers and ratings how to perform complex technical tasks away from the dangerous and cramped conditions of an actual warship.