An early kind of glossy magazine, the Navy and Army Illustrated was a subtler means of recruitment for the Army and Navy

Navy & Army Illustrated - Issue No.1 – 22 August 1914
Navy & Army Illustrated - Issue No.1 – 22 August 1914

Our Item of the month is a selection from the Navy and Army Illustrated, which was published initially between 1895 and 1903 by George Newness Ltd of London.

As the name suggests, the magazine was profusely illustrated and published each fortnight.  It was an early kind of glossy magazine, mixing shots of military parades, smart uniforms and soldiers and sailors doing their duty, with atmospheric shots of the mysterious and exotic far corners of Empire. As a subtle means of recruitment, encouraging young men to seek adventure and travel in the service of King and Country, it took some beating.  By 1903 it amalgamated with another periodical The King which in turn became The King and his Navy and Army Illustrated

Despite being aimed at the widest possible readership: ‘all who are interested in the welfare of the British Empire and those who had friends or relatives in the service of the Queen’, Navy and Army Illustrated seems to have struggled on the news stands, fading away in 1903. It was re-launched in 1906 and again at the outbreak of WWI.  

These sample of pages include what must have been a striking shot of the muzzles of a battleship, in this case the forward 12 inch guns of the early Dreadnought battleship HMS Neptune, launched in 1909. The Army & Navy Illustrated clearly wanted to do its bit to sell the idea that the crippling expensive Dreadnoughts were a national and naval necessity. The Neptune went on to serve at the Battle of Jutland in 1916 firing, we are told, only 48 of her 12 inch shells. In doing so she inflicted seriously damage on the German battlecruiser Lutzow which was later scuttled.

While some shots emphasised the size and scale of the armed resources of empire, others concentrated on the down to earth gallant Tom, Dick or Harry, or in this case the gallant sailor boy. C. R. Field is depicted in a posed photograph on board the training ship Impregnable proudly displaying his award of the Brave Conduct Medal of the Royal Humane Society.  During a stormy night, disregarding his own safety he jumped into the sea to save a fellow crew member who had fallen overboard. Struggling to locate his ship mate in the dark, he soon found himself in danger of drowning. Happily he and his comrade were both rescued rescued by boat. Clearly this was the type of character required by the navy; a model recruit. Another caption summed this attitude up well:

'A conspicuous feature of the Royal Navy is that the personnel is caught young. Boys of good character and physically fit are entered in a training ship...and taught all that pertains to their future life at sea. The training ship Impregnable is their headquarters and school'. 

It was not all glamour and adventure however and the editors did make an effort to illustrate some of the less attractive hallowed naval traditions, such as swabbing the decks. By 1914 holy stones were no longer in use!

Instead the emphasis was on team work and comraderie, working together to keep the training ship clean and presentable, developing the skills and mutual dependence which might one day save lives. 

 'Jack’s Life at Sea' features two snapshots of everyday life in the Navy, the men in the top picture are scrubbing the fabric of a sick bay cot. The cots 'are used to transfer sick or injured men from the ship when necessary'.  The photograph below is a two man working party with swabs and brooms, a boatswains mate is in conversation with them.  Though, difficult to see in the photo the broom held by the centre man has markings cut approximately half-way up the handle, each cleaning implement was so marked for a specific area of the ship. 

Finally, a photograph taken nearly a month after the commencement of the Great War:  Khaki clad Grenadier Guards of the Second Battalion march past the King outside Buckingham Palace. The Guards, we are told, are wearing full kit as they march past, while saluted by HM the King as two policemen look on, in marked contrast to the crowds of the Diamond Jubilee of 2012!

The Caird Library holds bound issues of Navy and Army Illustrated from December 1895 to 1903 and loose issues from August to December 1914. Further copies are also in the care of the National Army Museum and the Imperial War Museum, London. Search the Library catalogue for this and other Journals (see below).

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