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Help to identify a military uniform please?

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Help to identify a military uniform please?

Postby alif2108 » Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:18 pm

This is a photograph of my Great Grandfather Joseph Davies. He was born in 1876 in Birkenhead, Wirral and lived in the same area all his life. I know very little about him but have this photo taken between 1914 and 1918. I've not seen any other military uniforms like this before. With a surname of Davies it's very difficult to locate any service records. Can anyone help by identifying the uniform?
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J Davies 1914 1918 b.jpg
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Re: Help to identify a military uniform please?

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 10:30 am

Not that it's any help to you - but I've not seen a jacket like that either.

For those of you less adept at Army tailoring the major differences are:
- no breast pockets;
- lower pockets are pleated to compensate for the loss of the (normally) pleated breast pockets (pleated pockets are bigger inside);
- those reinforcing(???) strips of material down from the shoulder all the way down the front of the jacket.

Sadly, I can't read the badge - it's small and round and that's about it.

I've just looked through a book on dating military photos and can't find anything like that jacket. Except... There's a photo of some British Army officers from 1880 in Kabul (yes, that Kabul). Several do seem to be wearing jackets with no breast pockets and one or two (only) just might have those reinforcing strips.

Thanks for the interesting photo!

The usual fall-back in a case like this is to suggest this might be old kit used in the UK by home-based depot or training staff. I never like that fall-back but....

Suggest that if you have no replies here, you post this on the Great War Forum - some of the guys there know about earlier years so might recognise it if it really is old kit and not specialist.

Thanks for the interesting photo.
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Re: Help to identify a military uniform please?

Postby alif2108 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 10:11 pm

Thanks for taking the time to look into this Adrian.

It's certainly a puzzle. I have the 1911 Census record showing Joseph living in Birkenhead with his wife Annie and 4 children and that he was a General Labourer for the Harbour Board (probably at the nearby Birkenhead Docks). Being involved with the Docks it's quite possible he might have been home based as his son William (my Grandad) was a Crane Driver on the Docks when WW2 broke out and he had to join the Home Guard as he was needed at the Docks. Joseph lived until 1949.

I had to reduce the quality of the photograph in order to upload it to the site although the badge isn't much clearer on the original. It appears to have a crown at the top and possibly a scroll at the bottom. The closest 'possible' badge I've found is the Royal Hampshire Regiment but I think it quite unlikely he'd have joined this particular regiment being from Birkenhead.

Thanks for the suggestion of the Great War forum, I will try that if no one else replies :)
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Re: Help to identify a military uniform please?

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 10:33 pm

My best guess at a badge would be the Royal Engineers - it's round, with a crown on the top. However, when badges get shrunk down in full length portraits like that, I find that all my points of reference disappear. That's why it's only a guess.
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Re: Help to identify a military uniform please?

Postby Sylcec » Thu Aug 28, 2014 5:43 am

Are you sure its a WWI period photo? Could it be earlier? If possible, then the alternative to the Great War Forum would be the Victorian Wars Forum which also has a great bunch of highly knowledgeable mad military enthusiasts as members! :)
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Re: Help to identify a military uniform please?

Postby Millst » Thu Aug 28, 2014 10:55 pm

Could it be a cavalry uniform? I don't know about the lack of breast pockets, but the trousers and putees look like a picture of soldiers in cavalry or Royal Horse Artillery uniform on Wikipedia under British Army Uniform and Equipment in WW1. I too thought the badge looked a little like the Royal Engineers but too vague to be sure.
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Re: Help to identify a military uniform please?

Postby alif2108 » Fri Aug 29, 2014 12:15 am

Thanks for your comments so far. Having viewed a photograph of a Royal Engineers cap badge from 1914, this looks very promising. I'll follow this up and see if it leads to some new info :)
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Re: Help to identify a military uniform please?

Postby jeffward » Sat Aug 30, 2014 6:24 pm

Hello
It occurs to me the he might be a Royal Marine. The cap badge could quite easily be the globe surrounded by a wreath with the crown on top. Not cavalry not wearing spurs,an artilleryman would be wearing his lanyard and probably a bandolier . Also he has a leather belt, your average infantryman would have a webbing one. Regards Jeff Ward.
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Re: Help to identify a military uniform please?

Postby jeffward » Sun Aug 31, 2014 8:58 am

I've been having second thoughts about my post on item. On reflection it seems more likely it was a ceremonial uniform only used occasionally. Possibly a member of a regimental band. The vertical strips could have been coloured with a colour associated with the regiment It should not be overlooked that army rules required a man to keep his identification documents in his top left hand tunic pocket at all times. So the uniform would not have been worn on a regular basis. Nor would he have been a marine; their bandsmen wore blue. Whatever it was I suspect the photo was taken to celebrate his right to wear it. Jeff Ward.
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Re: Help to identify a military uniform please?

Postby ksouthall » Sun Aug 31, 2014 10:07 am

Do you know the name of the photographers? It looks like there is some typing on the bottom right hand sight of the photo. This could provide additional information and help further narrow down the date.

Also, very occasionally, it is possible to get more details if the photographer's records have been archived in a local repository.
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