1909 Recruitment at Morris Tube Range

Despite best endeavours, I’ve not been able to name this Cameronian Solider. Photographed by Blantyre photographer David Ritchie, sometime between 1905 and 1910, the man in this previously unseen photo is likely from Blantyre. I’d thought the backdrop was a sheet which the photographer sometimes used to mask stone or unattractive buildings providing a more suitable backdrop, but in this instance, it looks like a collapsed tent or some kind of tarpaulin.

The uniform is pristine, the boots polished and the rifle with bayonet in place. I wrote recently about the Territorials (previously known as Volunteers or Blantyre Blazers) asking for further men in 1909 to bring them up to full strength, but didn’t provide much detail about that, so here is some more info.

The Territorials (Volunteer soldiers) in Blantyre had dwindled in numbers to just 30 or so men by February 1909. The problem being that an option to enlist for just one year had been earlier created and many people had done just that. However, a successful recruitment drive in March 1909 saw numbers swell rapidly, and by end of that month the company was 100 strong, just 20 short of a full compliment. This intake was almost solely of recruits from Low Blantyre, Stonefield and the Village and it was noted that there was an abundant lack of any volunteers from High Blantyre. An advert went out in the Hamilton Advertiser asking “Are there no eligible young men in High Blantyre?”

Recruitment was by walk in meetings, with no appointment at the former ‘Morris Tube Range’ at Logan Street between 7pm and 9pm. (except Saturdays). The Morris Tube Range was a former rifle firing range atLogan Street, then without all the homes it has today, was simply an open field with the drill hall and Priory Hall/Bar adjacent.

The .297/230 Morris cartridges were produced for use in the Morris Aiming Tube, a commercial sub-calibre barrel inserted into the barrel of these large bore rifles. They were not particularly accurate though and were replaced by a smaller, more accurate cartridge and tube in 1908. The use of these tubes within such rifles gave rise to the name of the range.

Of course as war broke out in 1914, there were no shortage of men putting themselves forward to serve King and Country and do their duty. I can’t help but feel, this early training may have set many of the men on a good footing with some skills and understanding of army life, which I hope served them well in war.

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