Officer’s Batmen at Ecoust 1917
This image games from the same source as one of the first I posted here; it was taken by Lieutenant Ron Short MC of the 2nd Battalion Queen’s Regiment, who had an illicit camera with him on the Western Front in 1917.
The village of Ecoust St Mein was captured by the 7th Division in the Advance to the Hindenburg Line in the Spring of 1917. It then remained in British hands until the following March, and became a staging post for the fighting in front of Bullecourt. By war’s end it was completely destroyed; an insight into that destruction can be seen here.
The two officer’s servants – batmen – are standing at the entrance to one of the officer’s dugouts; in this case the cellar of a partially destroyed house. While they are relaxed and out of view of the Germans here, the presence of war is not far away and both men are carrying their Small Box Respirator; the latest bit of kit at the time the photo was taken in early 1917 that helped to protect the British Tommy against gas attacks. The soldier on the right is wearing a Leather Jerkin, issued in cold periods as a piece of cold weather gear and often all that soldiers had to protect themselves from the extreme temperatures in Northern France.
More great images Paul. Interested by your use of the word batman, as this was a topic of conversation with a mutual friend just a few days ago, and we concluded that it possibly wasn’t used until WW2. Wonder on your thoughts on that. Keep up the great work, and typical of you to be so good about sharing your information and resources.
14/01/2012 at 12:56
That’s an interesting one Mark! Will have to see if I can find a contemporary use of it now! ‘Officers Servant’ does seem more common in the Great War; have you found any other phrases used to describe them?
14/01/2012 at 13:05
Paul, we concluded that Officers Servant, which of course I appreciate is the phrase you have used in the text, was the one in common usage at the time. I’ll be looking out now in my various books to see if any other phrases are used to describe these fellows who often seem to get a good press in accounts. Thanks for the quick reply.
14/01/2012 at 13:13
Superb image of excellent quality, Paul. What size was the original? I ask because I’m interested in the camera type. Do you know what it was?
17/01/2012 at 08:18
The camera I believe was German as the prints are about the same size of WW2 German images I have.
17/01/2012 at 09:14
Hi Paul, Another interesting image that also appears in the Queens officers album called Secretan, he adds additional notes to his photograph which he claims to have taken and includes both soldiers names and says they are standing in front of the entrance to the Ecoust caves. Unfortunately I do not have the names to hand but can get them if interested. Any chance of seeing the rest of Ron Short’s photo’s to make a comparison. Kevin
14/03/2013 at 10:13