This week’s postcard is a very rare, and interesting view of the inside of a British Army regimental transport office, somewhere near St Omer during the First World War:
We can get an indication of the location from the list of place names displayed on the boards in the office which are all in this region of France and it seems likely that this office was used to co-ordinate lorry drivers in the area:
A set of paper chittys are pinned up on a board in the background, perhaps with work orders on for the drivers:
The men themselves can be seen with two of them sat at a roughly made table reading magazines:
Whilst the third man poses as if answering the telephone:
The use of lorries and engine transport grew exponentially throughout the Great War, with it becoming very clear to all but the most die hard cavalryman that the age of the horse was over. The army trained thousands of men to drive lorries and this in turn saw a boom in motor transport in post war Britain as demobbed soldiers set up road transport businesses driving lorries, buses and charabancs converted from surplus army trucks bought cheaply as surplus. This in turn had wider societal changes as it would lead to an eventual contraction of the railway network, the opening up of more rural areas and changes to work and business as transport became easier- all as a consequence of this boom in military transport during World War 1.
Whatever is the Cpl on the right wearing on his feet ?
At first glance they looked like ladies pumps and stockings but they’re most likely slippers of some sort ? perhaps he has a medical chit to eschew boots or shoes due to trenchfoot or something similar ? or maybe he’s wearing them as props specifically for the picture ? They don’t look at all like puttees but may be some sort of spats ? That’s one of the things that make old pictures so much fun, the little details that make you go hmmmm 🙂