This week’s postcard is a nice group shot of territorial soldiers on their annual camp, just prior to World War One:They wear the standard khaki service dress of the regular army, but if you look closely at the shoulder titles they are particularly large and elaborate, this being typical of territorial units:These brass titles normally included the name of the regiment, the number of the battalion and a ‘T’ for territorial above them, as in this representative example:The cap badges show this unit is a light infantry regiment and the two most likely contenders are the Durham Light Infantry or the Shropshire Light infantry. Sadly I can’t get a high enough magnification to be sure:Behind the men are traditional bell tents:This is most likely the Mk V bell tent, the most common model in use at the period. It had a diameter of 12’6” and could sleep up to twelve men arranged in a star burst formation, foot to pole. The following instructions were issued in the Field Service Pocket Book 1914 for pitching bell tents:
- Mark centre with peg. Describe a circle, with a radius of 4 paces, on which the pegs will be. In this circle, drive in the two pegs opposite the door of the tent, one pace apart. At 3 paces from these pegs, on either side of them, drive in pegs for guy ropes. The other guy rope pegs will be 5 paces from these and 5 paces from each other.
- Put up tent. Pole to be set and kept perfectly upright.
- Drive in the other pegs, which should be one pace apart and in line with the seams of the tent.
- Doors, if possible, point to leeward.
- 7 1/2 yards from centre to centre of tents.
- Cut drains round bottom of tent walls and heap earth inside flap.
- Dig a hole 6 inches deep close to tent pole, then if heavy rain comes on suddenly, the tent pole can be pushed into the hole and much strain is taken off the canvas, ropes and pegs
The sheets around the base of the tent could be rolled back during the day to air out the insides for hygiene purposes and this pattern of tent remained in service, albeit with territorial units of the army, until the latter decades of the twentieth century.