W2599 — Mrs Lang; Group of Blue Boys & Nurses, 1917

Box 55


Image 2: W2600 — Robertson & Lang Wedding, 1917
Image 3: W2601 — Robertson & Lang Wedding, 1917


The wedding of Major and Mrs Lang’s elder daughter, Margaret Isabel, to Major RD Robertson at St. Anne’s Church on 28th June 1918. The bride and groom had passed under an archway of crutches and sticks formed by men from St. Anne’s Red Cross Hospital. The bride served as a nurse there and her mother was Commandant. Blue Boys from the Hospital pulled the bridal car to the Lang’s home.


Blue Boys were injured men who had been sent back from the front to recover in local hospitals. They were dressed in a blue uniform to ensure that local people knew they were convalescing and to protect them from criticism for not signing up.


The uniform was the loose blue coat with white lining, blue trousers, white shirt and red tie. The uniform jacket was single breasted and worn open at the neck. A strange feature of this uniform was that it had no pockets. With the uniform, they wore the military hat of their military unit, with their unit badge. The main reason the suit does not fit well is that the outer suit was made of flannelette (the material winter pyjamas are made from) and the white lining was cotton so when washed, the inside and outside shrank at different rates, which meant the uniforms always looked like it was the wrong size.


There were no rank indicators on the hospital uniform - which was often called ’hospital blues’. That term is actually an ’in joke’ because officers had a very smart dress uniform called parade blues - so calling the other one ’hospital blues’ emphasised just how ill-fitting and horrible the men thought this hospital garb was. To compensate for the shrinkage, men were given overly large uniforms and there are postcards from about 1918 to 1920 that have drawings of men in these suits and some joke underneath about them and about Army tailoring.