4 Comments

A British Regiment Marches to War 1914

This postcard is the most expensive I’ve ever purchased at $11.00. It is unique in my limited experience and I could not let it go.

The card is not dated but given the subject matter I’d estimate the date of publication to be 1914 at the start of the Great War in Europe.

Regiment of the Prince of Wales on way to the Front

Regiment of the Prince of Wales on way to the Front

The front of the card shows a column of British soldiers in 1914 uniforms parading down what I’m assuming to be an English street. The card is partially colorized giving the card a modern look.

The card was published by Underwood and Underwood. Underwood and Underwood was an American company and an early producer and distributor of stereoscopic and other photographic images, and later was a pioneer in the field of news bureau photography. Wiki

The most interesting feature is the one-armed officer leading the column of soldiers.

The flip of the card tells the story of the one-armed officer. It reads: Regiment of the Prince of Wales on way to the Front. The Grenadier Guards to which to the Prince of Wales is attached are led by Major Trotter, who lost his left arm in the service in South Africa.

Major Trotter is Lt. Col. Edward Henry Trotter

Major Trotter is Lt. Col. Edward Henry Trotter

Although I am not absolutely certain I believe that Major Trotter is one of the four sons of Major-General Henry Trotter who died in 1905.  I believe that the Major pictured is Lt. Col. Edward Henry Trotter who commanded the 18th Bn. of the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment during the early years of WW1. I do not have an explanation as to why the card says the Prince of Wales of Regiment as opposed to the King’s Liverpool Regiment on Wiki.

Trotter did have a commission in the Grenadier Guards so perhaps that explains the discrepancy or perhaps the caption simply misidentified the unit.

I do believe that Major Trotter and Lt. Col Edward Henry Trotter are the same persons given this clip from Wiki:

“After the outbreak of the Second Boer War in October 1899, a corps of imperial volunteers from London was formed in late December 1899. The corps included infantry, mounted infantry and artillery divisions and was authorized with the name City of London Imperial Volunteers. It proceeded to South Africa in January 1900, returned in October the same year, and was disbanded in December 1900. Lieutenant Trotter was appointed Staff captain to the corps on 1 January 1900, with the temporary rank of Captain in the Army,[1] and served as such until it was disbanded. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his services in South Africa on 29 November 1900.[2] In April 1902, Trotter returned to South Africa with a detachment of men from the Guards regiments.[3]

Trotter’s regiment took part in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Trotter estimated that his regiment suffered 500 casualties on the first day! The British suffered 58,000 casualties during the Battle of the Somme, 1/3 of them on the first day. Trotter would later die as German artillery shell landed near his command dugout.

The card is a reverse image of the below photograph. Fascinating little piece of history and the story of a British officer who served in two wars.

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4 comments on “A British Regiment Marches to War 1914

  1. I suspect that the caption writer’s comment about ‘Regiment of the Prince of Wales’ is a clumsy way of saying that the men are from the regiment that the Prince, subsequently King Edward VIII, served in i.e. the Grenadier Guards.
    The 18th Battalion, King’s (Liverpool) Regiment was one of many units formed from volunteers at the start of the war. There was a shortage of officers to command them. The Guards did not form as many new battalions as did line infantry regiments so Trotter probably transferred regiments in order to obtain promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel and command of a battalion.

    • That makes sense and thanks for clarifying Martin. At the start of our Civil War regular army lieutenants found themselves in charge of regiments and a promotion to Colonel of Volunteers.

  2. It is hard to identify the exact year of manufacture on such cards, but given that Trotter was an experienced soldier it could be from 1914. On the other hand, the fact that he was missing an arm could mean that he wasn’t given the opportunity to lead troops until attrition allowed such obstacles were willing to be overlooked.

    Sadly, given the casualties at the Somme and throughout the war, one is left with the impression that very few of the men shown above survived the war.

    • Thanks for stopping by and the comment. So true about the men in the picture surviving. It would not be surprising to learn that all perished in the war that was meant to end all wars.

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