Queen’s Royal W Surrey Regiment Soldiers’ Club Postcard

This week’s postcard is another from the Tuck’s Oilette series of colour images, this one entitled “Recreation, The Queen’s Royal W Surrey Rgt:

The photograph this painted card was based on seems to have been taken in an other ranks recreation club in barracks. These were set up to offer an alternative to drinking and frequenting ladies of ill repute that had traditionally been the soldier’s primary form of recreation in his free time. These clubs offered non alcoholic drinks, games and facilities for reading and writing letters etc. This went hand in hand with the growth of the teatotal movement in the Army in the late Victorian period. In this particular image men can be seen playing billiards:

Billiards were far more popular than snooker at this period, and pool was unheard of on this side of the Atlantic! Other men are clustered around tables playing games:

This appears to be a game of chess, whilst others play backgammon:

Despite these sober activities, many soldiers still craved a beer. Frank Richards joined the army before the First World War and recalls one of his first encounters (as a boy soldier) with the beer served in the regimental canteen:

The canteen opened at noon for three quarters of an hour, and again from six until a quarter-past-nine. At stop-tap Toombs and I were quite sober, which made me remark that one could drink a great many glasses of this sort of beer without feeling the effects of it. “You are quite right,” he replied, “that old bastard in charge of the canteen has been using the water-can on it to some order today. But if I’m not on duty tomorrow evening Ill take you around the town, where a man can get a decent drink of beer, though it costs doublke what it does in Barracks.”

One comment

  1. I have noticed that the fashion for wearing headgear has changed over the years and curiously, the same trends seem to generally have occurred everywhere at about the same time. In the case of the field service caps (‘overseas’ caps to Americans), they are worn centered but rather further back on the head than they are worn now. Today, they seem to always be worn centered but well forward, with the point almost between the eyebrows. In the WWII period, they were worn well to one side, “defying gravity.” Same with berets and bonnets. Likewise, other headgear was worn well down on the head, sometimes (apparently) touching the ears, while today, rather smaller sizes are perched atop crew-cut heads.

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