NOSTALGIA: Were these Portsmouth marines being punished?

With long gunnery gaiters and sword bayonets fixed to their rifles, we see marines changing guard just inside Eastney Barracks' main gate. 'Robert James Collection
With long gunnery gaiters and sword bayonets fixed to their rifles, we see marines changing guard just inside Eastney Barracks' main gate. 'Robert James Collection
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Last Tuesday I published this photograph of what I suggested was the changing of the guard inside the main gate of Eastney Barracks. I asked if anyone could tell me the type of headwear the marines were wearing. Of course, someone could.

Richard Boryer first. He says: ‘The blue Brodrick cap (introduced in 1903) continued to be worn in 1919 by ranks below staff sergeant, although the RMA corporals’ and gunners’ red piping in front of the pre–1918 Brodrick was no longer used.

Fratton & Southsea station in pre-electrification days.

Fratton & Southsea station in pre-electrification days.

‘In 1927 a similar cap to the Brodrick was introduced, but had no peak.

‘The semi-circle of red serge behind the cap badge was retained, as was the additional blue cloth trim in the front of caps. This trim had gold piping around its upper edge for senior NCOs. Officers and staff sergeants continued to wear a cap with a scarlet band and scarlet piping around the crown.’

Ian Heath put forward the following suggestion. He says: ‘I may be wrong, but I believe the marines are wearing the Brodrick cap, which was worn between 1903-1919. In addition to this, I believe that the rifles carried are either Lee-Metford’s (1880-1895) or Magazine Lee Enfield’s (1895-1926).

‘The second model was the precursor to the famous Short Magazine Lee Enfield or SMLE, which came into service in 1904 and continued, in various different marks until about 1958. To further confuse matters, I believe the bayonet is the 1907 pattern sword-bayonet! There were two other bayonets used – the 1888 pattern and the 1903 pattern. These were just short of 12in in length, but the sword-bayonet was 17in in length, which seems to fit the photograph.’

Seen at Hayling Island railway station in 1910 we see three railwaymen very smartly dressed. They all have peaked caps, ties and waistcoats along with carnations in their buttonholes. The man to the left must be the stationmaster and the two porters are dealing with the arrival of pigeons, perhaps to be released outside the station.''To the right is a schoolboy with a smart watch chain attached to his blazer. ''The lad on the far right is wearing a plus-four suit along with an Eton collar.

Seen at Hayling Island railway station in 1910 we see three railwaymen very smartly dressed. They all have peaked caps, ties and waistcoats along with carnations in their buttonholes. The man to the left must be the stationmaster and the two porters are dealing with the arrival of pigeons, perhaps to be released outside the station.''To the right is a schoolboy with a smart watch chain attached to his blazer. ''The lad on the far right is wearing a plus-four suit along with an Eton collar.

Ian adds: ‘In short, I believe the photograph dates from 1907 to probably a few years before the First World War. After all, rifles were expensive and the services did not replace their weapons en masse overnight.

‘It is an an excellent photograph, a little picture of life in Eastney now gone forever.

‘Another thought. I see the marines are wearing what seems to be full marching order. Seeing that this is unlikely for guard duty and that there are only a few of them, do you think they are men under punishment?’

Ian, from Gosport, tells me that the gaiters were always called webbing and date from the Boer War as do the satchels being worn.

Thank you all for the well informed e-mails.

• Below is a superb hand-tinted postcard scene taken at what was then called Fratton & Southsea railway station before the third rail had reached this far down the line from Woking.

On the right is platform one with the extended roof now partly demolished. On this part of the station was a gentlemen’s toilet and waiting room.

The waiting room had an open coal fire up until the mid-1960s.

On platform two, the left hand side, we see an open-service wagon with the side lowered and the porters unloading some item other.

The footbridge in the distance is still in situ but minus its roof.

Also of note is the multi-armed telegraph poles carrying vital bell codes from signal box to signal box as well as telephone wires.