This week’s postcard dates back to the Edwardian era and depicts a group of soldiers at Shorncliffe Camp clustering around the YMCA tent:
Shorncliffe is a large military camp near Cheriton in Kent and has been used by the military since 1794. By the turn of the twentieth century the camp had replaced its wooden huts with proper stone built barrack blocks for the regulars who were stationed there. However when the camp was used for volunteers and the Territorials for their annual training this accommodation was not big enough and for the two week of camp, these men would have been housed in tents with extra facilities provided in large marquees such as this one, there being ample space in the 229 acre camp.
A large queue of men can be seen outside the tent, clearly taking a keen interest in the photographer. They seem to wear a dark blue uniform with matching side caps:
Note the writing on the wall of the YMCA tent indicating that it had facilities for reading and writing within. The supply of books helped alleviate boredom that might have led men to drink, whilst notepaper, pencils and space to write was seen as essential in allowing men to keep in contact with their families.
In front of the tent a small horse drawn carriage can be seen, the age of the motor car was dawning but not widespread yet:
Another small group of men can be seen to the right, including one chap in a heavy duty apron who might be a cook or tradesman:
Shorncliffe Camp was to have a very busy Great War as its location made it an excellent staging post for troops on their way to France, and one Canadian soldier penned this ditty about the camp in 1918: