Saturday, May 22, 2010

Vintage Swimming Boy and Brief Soldier


For a couple of months now I have been promising myself a treat - an all day trip to the South of England Postcard Fair in Woking - I know, I'm easily pleased! That was today, one of the most summery days we have had yet this year. I've spent the best part of seven hours examining the postacrds on offer and there will be more about the main thrust of this trip in a post above but, for now, I'm just sharing this particular postcard.

Clearly it's a picture of a handsome young man who is a rather good swimmer, displaying the medals he has won on his swimsuit, it also appears from the photo that he has some kind of squint or 'boss eye'. On the verso is an address in Birmingham from which the card is being sent by "J Sanders" in 1911 with Christmas greetings for his friend Tom. A little consultation with the census documents of 1901 and 1911 suggests that this is the 15 year old John Alfred Sanders who, in 1911 is working as a Warehouse Boy. A little further digging turned up his Army Pension Records, slightly odd since at age 19 in 1915 he is recruited into the Remount Division of the Army Service Corps in Romsey and then some 14 days later is discharged. The Remount camp at Romsey was designed to receive horses from all over the UK and abroad and allocate them to front-line units. John's occupation by now is given as a Horse Fettler and so we can see why he was sent in this direction by the recruiters. However, his very prompt discharge was under the King's Regulations paragraph 392 section iii: this is the provision to discharge someone who is "not likely to become an efficient soldier". At this time in his life we also know that john is 5' 4 3/4", weighed 138lbs, has an chest measurement of 35" and, perhaps crucially, the Army records reveal that the slightly dodgy eye is in fact made of glass and completely blind. It seems likely that this was the reason for his discharge although it remains curious that he was attested and taken in only to be discharged 14 days later.

There may be still more things that could be discovered about young master Sanders

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