This week’s photograph is a splendid image of a group of Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve seaman, taken at around the time of the Great War:The men can be identified as RNVR by their cap tallies which read R.N. (Anchor) V.R.:The RNVR was a reserve made up of men who were not sailors in civilian life, the RNR by contrast had its ranks filled by fishermen, tug boat crews etc and were consequently natural seaman who needed different training to the more ‘amateur’ RNVR. The men in this photograph where the white cotton duck working uniform:Although it looks like a tropical uniform, this particular design was used on the UK as a heavy duty uniform for use during tasks that would damage the traditional dark blue serge uniform. And all seem to have the high laced anklets typical of the RN at this period:More information on these anklets can be found here. It is interesting to note that in the photograph above at least one man clearly has hobnails in his boots. At the time hobnails were not routinely fixed to RN boots unless the sailor was undergoing instruction or based ashore. Hobnails would have been dangerous on board a ship where they would make it very easy to slip on a wet deck. Ashore they were essential to help prevent the boots form wearing out very quickly.
The men are stood in front of a mast, the top of which can be seen above their heads, one rating holding the halyard to steady himself:These men are probably on a training course ashore, either as part of their annual training commitment or if the photograph was taken in wartime then before being deployed to a ship for service.