|Quite the curiosity. This image seems to be an early version of what would one day become known as Trench Art.
The original art work that was reproduced photographically by this Hong Kong photographer must have been
created by a crew member of the HMS Glory while on station in China sometime during the reign of King Edward
VII. From the look of it the photograph must have been a kind of parody of service in a Naval Brigade ashore.
Perhaps this picture was related to the poem titled The Naval Mounted 'Orse by Sub-Lieutenant G. Stewart Bowles,
R.N. that appeared in his c. 1898 book of verse titled Extracts from A Gun Room Ditty Box.
WE'VE played in every kind o' game
Since fust we comed to sea;
We've served in every hind o' land From the Lizard to Fiji;
We've fought in every kind o' way
With every kind o' force,
But best of all was the 'Cultural 'All
An' the Naval Mounted 'Orse.
Oh! all the little soldier-men
So bustin' up with pride,
Sez they, "You little sailor-men,
We'd like to see you ride."
Sez we, " We'll do the best we can,"
An' drops our legs acrorse ;
An' one o-the drums sez, " 'Ere they comes ;
It's the Naval Mounted 'Orse ! "
We started out in line abreast,
A-kickin' up the dust;
The Tommies sat a-watchin' us,
An' laughin' fit to bust.
Sez Jimmy, " Can you pull 'er up ? "
Sez Ginger, " W'y, of course
We're troopers now-but I don't know 'ow
In the Naval Mounted 'Orse."
We follered up the leader,
We reckoned that was best,
We got 'em in the centre,
An' the 'orses done the rest.
The Tommies 'ollered awful,
An' the people 'owled acrorse ;
'Twas the first parade o' the big brigade
O' the Naval Mounted 'Orse !
But w'en we got to business
It didn't look so gay ;
The soldiers sat it splendid,
They seemed to 'ave the way.
So w'en the lines was facin'
We didn't make salutes;
We waited for the whistle,
An' we grabbed 'em by the boots.
An' w'en we'd fairly started in
We didn't 'ear no more,
'Cept everyone was cheerin'
In a sort of 'owlin' roar.
An' w'en the ranks was opened
I looks along the gorse,
An' I sees 'em done. Sez I, " That's one
For the Naval Mounted 'Orse ! "
They said we was the winners,
Which made us cock a chest.
They said we done it splendid ;
We said they done it best.
But w'en the drinks was ordered,
We 'auled 'em all inside,
An' asked 'em werry nicely
If they'd teach us 'ow to ride.
We've played in every kind of game
Since Just we comed to sea ;
We've served in every kind of land
From the Lizard to Fiji;
We're infantry, artillery,
And Seamen, too, of course,
But the best of all was the 'Cultural 'All
And the Naval Mounted 'Orse !
The level of detail in this image is really astounding. Almost everywhere one looks some small inside joke can be
found some of which will only be evident to those familiar with the workings of the Royal Navy while others may be
specific to 19th Century naval traditions. I was tempted to list all the things that I have noticed but decided to let
the viewer search for themselves. Have fun.
Yong Seng - Photographer
60 Queen's Road East, Hong Kong