This week’s photograph is an unusually relaxed image of a group of sailors and marines aboard a warship at the time of World War One:
Usually photographs of sailors tend to be quite formal portraits taken in a photographer’s studio. By the start of World War One, however, small portable cameras such as the Kodak Vest Pocket were becoming available that allowed the amateur to carry a small camera around with him and photograph anything that took his fancy. These cameras were still expensive so tended to be the preserve of officers, but those officers often photographed the men under their command and so we are left a library of unofficial, informal photographs of men at work, subjects that are valuable historical documents now, even if at the time would not have been of any interest to official photographers.
In this image we see sailors at work, wearing just their white front shirts and cotton duck trousers:
These men are capless, however the marine does wear his Brodrick cap, the badge of the Royal Marines just visible:
The background of the photograph has hints of some deck space, with pipes and possibly a canvas screen, however it is hard to be exactly sure where this photograph was taken or even what type of warship it is. The informality of the picture is wonderful however and gets across the character of the men in a way that a formal portrait seldom ever managed to do.
I’m thinking that they are all Marines, as sailors weren’t allowed to wear moustaches in those days unless they were Royal Fleet Reserve men?