My thanks go to Owen Thompson who very kindly sent me today’s photograph. This marvelous image depicts a group of soldiers aboard a troop ship, just before they depart for foreign parts in about 1905:
My thanks go to Ian Cowling who helped date this picture through the combination of the style of Service Dress, with seperate shoulder boards, the men are wearing and the Brodrick caps that some of the men are wearing:
These distinctive peakless caps were highly unpopular and quickly replaced with the peaked service dress cap. Also of note is one man wearing a very oddly shaped cap comforter and the large number of men who have been issued with a very stiff and clearly quite new slouch hat:
Behind the troops, at the top of a ladder stand some of the ship’s crew and a few fashionably dressed ladies who have presumably come to see the men off:
Private Frank Richards has left us an evocative account of what it was like to travel to India before World War One in a troop ship:
We embarked at Southampton on a troop-ship, the name of which I have forgotten. There were close on two thousand troops on board and we reached Bombay towards the middle of November after a voyage of twenty one days. I had never been on a long sea voyage before and I enjoyed every day of this one. I did not suffer from sea-sickness as many did: in fact I have never been sea sick in the whole of my life. The food was good and the ship’s bakers, who provided us with excellent bread, made money too by selling us penny buns. There were also sailors who came around during the day with large tins of sherbert and pails of fresh water; they charged a penny for a small tumbler of water with a teaspoon of sherbert in. This drink was called a Bombay fizzer. During the last ten days of the voyage they did an excellent trade with their fizzers and if they did not make a daily profit of thirty shillings to two pounds apiece they considered the trade was pretty bad.