Military photographs and how to date them

Neil Storey (Countryside Books, 2009) 23cm x 16cm, flexiback, 192pp

Lavishly illustrated with over 200 photographs of individuals and groups in uniform over the years 1865 to 1945, this book is an excellent general guide to the changing styles of uniforms and their accoutrements during the period.

The books is divided into five principal sections: Victorian, Edwardian, First and Second World Wars, and the inter-war years. Each section starts with a summary of the main military events and the reasons for changes in the military dress of the time. The author takes the reader through each photograph, picking out and clearly explaining the tell-tale signs evident in each. Here the reader realises just how many clues there are for dating military photographs: not just badges, general style and theatres of activity variations, but details such as cuff shapes, insignia locations, caps, braiding, collars and epaulette styles, button and pocket types, boots, equipment, and much more.

Most of the photographs in the book are of regular, reserve, territorial and auxiliary army subjects. This is not authorial bias, but merely underlines the greater degree of standardisation encountered in the Royal Navy and the RAF compared to the army, where every regiment and corps displayed its own separate identity.

Neil Storey is a professional military and social historian with over 30 books, many lectures and contributions to family history magazines to his credit. His expertise shines through the explanations attached to each photograph. Yet he manages to maintain his focus on providing a valuable general guide to dating military photographs, leaving individual researchers to look further into the minutiæ of their own particular research topics. To help them the author provides a short bibliography and a list of internet resources.

Tony Roberts

 

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