Militia camps in 1906
Part of the obligation to Militia service in Jersey was attendance at an annual camp. These camps were held at Grouville Common, Les Landes, Les Quennevais, Don Bridge, Greve de Lecq, People's Park, Les Platons, Elizabeth Castle and outside Fort Regent on what is now known as Glacis Field, and was previously called Mutton's Field.
For reasons that are unclear there are apparently no official records of camps before the three-year period from 1906, but from this year there is not only a sequence of correspondence between the Lieut-Governor General Hugh Sutley Gough and the Bailiff, William Venables Vernon, but also a detailed photographic record of at least two of the camps, the work of the foremost photographer of the day, Albert Smith.
It is possible that these camps were the direct result of the Militia coming under the Army Act in 1905.
The correspondence between General Gough and Sir William is held by the Jersey Archive and mostly relates to requests from General Gough for financial support from the States for holding the camps, and confirmation from the Bailiff that the Defence Committee had agreed to the sums requested.
There were four camps in 1906 and the sums voted were £700, £1,299, £1,220 and £2,500 - a total of £5,721, which was a substantial sum at the time, the equivalent of over £200,000 at today's values.
The sums voted for the four 1907 camps were £700, £1,793, £1,020 and £1,600, a slightly reduced total of £5,113.
Medical officer, desertion and accident
Other items of interest in the correspondence are the appointment of Dr Le Geyt as medical officer for the 1906 camps, the Desertion of A Le Cocq from the Don Bridge camp in 1907, the need to schedule the 1908 camps around a race meeting already organised for Don Bridge, and an inquiry into an accident involving Gunner W H Hoare at Glacis Field in 1909.
Although photographs of other camps are in existence, it was is the 1906 camps for which the most comprehensive photographic record exists. Albert Smith appears to have been given unprecedented access to the camps and many of his photographs are in the collection of La Société Jersiaise. Among the participants was 21-year-old Helier Chevalier Bisson, grandfather of Jerripedia editor Mike Bisson, to whom a selection of photographs, believed to be the work of Albert Smith, have been handed down through his family.
The militia was at the heart of the island's social life over a long period, and a man's rank in society was usually mirrored in his rank in the Militia. A sports day would be held during each camp and officers would invite their ladies to take tea and participate in events such as the tug of war.
Click on any image to see full-size version