When this bloody war is over….

…No more soldiering for me
When I get my civvy clothes on
Oh how happy I shall be

No more church parades on Sunday
No more putting in for leave
I shall kiss the Sergeant Major
How I’ll miss him, how he’ll grieve.
(traditional)

When I have published this photograph previously I have concentrated on the faces, there is such a wide variation of emotion. This time I have reproduced the entire postcard because there is some interesting detail, including the the old-fashioned guy ropes and the nosey private poking his head out from one of the tents.  Judging by the shoelaces on the front row it was a rush job, so maybe some of those expressions are prompted by irritation.

Fred at army camp

I am guessing this is my maternal grandfather, Fred (seated on the right with a cigarette in hand), when he was still in the Territorial Army, before his dispatch to Gallipoli in January 1915.  I have no record of how long he was posted there  but by late 1915 he was at the RFC Training School, Aboukir in Egypt where he would stay until January 1919, rising to the rank of Chief Mechanic.

Fred's demob account

This demobilization account shows he was granted 50 months of War Gratuity up to 18th February 1919 when he was finally dispersed from Fovant Camp in Wiltshire.  There is some fascinating detail on this aged piece of bureaucracy:

  • The daily wage is seven shillings, almost a third being sent home to the dependant, in this case, Fred’s mum and dad;
  • On dispersal he is granted 28 days leave in arrears at the rate of five shillings per day, a ration allowance and money for a set of ‘plain clothes’ – is this the suit he is proudly wearing in this post?
  • He walked out of Fovant with £2 in his pocket and two postal drafts – his identity paper shows that these were cashed at his home town of Andover on the 1st and 11th March 1919 respectively – his Savings Bank Book was issued on 26th March 1919.

In the midst of the small print and the cumbersome administration is perhaps the most telling of all mean-spirited statements:  The Service Gratuity of £1 per annum is not payable in addition to the War Gratuity.  They had evidently not done enough to deserve it.