A 'Swenglish' journey through family photos, notes and postcards from the early 20th century.


Sepia Saturday: Men in Uniform


My grandfather Gustaf T (on the right), together with a friend in Gothenburg 1925. My grandfather was born in 1904.

For Sepia Saturday 168

The photos below are found in another photo album and dated 1923. I’m not sure if my grandfather may also be among the men in the first picture. (If he is, my bet is on No 3 from the right.) But I think the man furthest to the right is my grandmother Sally’s younger brother Nils (born 1902). They both came from the same village, and I suppose they could have been in military service together. It was probably my grandfather who took the photos. (He later became a newspaper journalist and photographer.)


Nils furthest to the left in the middle row.

And Nils to the right here, on skis.

Nils to the left in this one.

Probably also Nils on the left here.

And I guess Nils to the right here, by the cupboard.

All the different uniforms and hats puzzled me a bit. But a Swedish Wikipedia article on military uniforms confirms that two different basic varieties of uniform were worn in the mid 1920’s, and often within the same military company:

Enhetsuniform m/1910 för Svenska Armén. (Wikipedia)
Standard uniform for the Swedish Army in 1910 (onwards)

Enhetsuniform m/1923 för Svenska Armén. (Wikipedia)
New standard uniform introduced in 1923, but the old uniforms were also still used.


Poliskask modell 1887.
Kulturlagret/ Vänersborgs museum: KLVM_19158
Policeman’s helmet from 1887.

In the last photo, some of the men seem to be wearing police uniforms and helmets. Or perhaps, considering the sooty appearance of the others – firemen?? I think once upon a time the fire brigade was connected to the military defense; but I have no details.


As these photos are glued into an album with spiral binding, they are difficult to scan. Some get a bit blurred – the originals are sharper. The original photos are black and white but the paper somewhat yellowed. In my editing process I found the details to come out best in sepia.


Män i uniform (1923-25)

Veckans inspirationsbild från Sepia Saturday 168 är från Potsdam-konferensen 1945, efter 2:a världskrigets slut; och bl.a. syns där män i uniform… Vilket fick mig att söka upp några uniformsbilder jag sett i min farfars fotoalbum.

1. Min farfar Gustaf T. (till höger) tillsammans med en vän (Elis Palmqvist) i Göteborg 1925. Gustaf var född 1904.

Resten av fotona sitter i ett annat album. Farfar kan möjligen vara med bland männen på bild nr 2, men annars gissar jag att det är han som är fotografen. Däremot är nog farmors bror Nils (född 1902) med på samtliga eller åtminstone de flesta bilderna.

2. Nils längst till höger. (?)
3. Nils längst till vänster i mittenraden.
4. Nils till höger, på skidor.
5. Nils längst till vänster.
6. Nils längst till vänster. (?)

7. Nils längst till höger i mittenraden. (?)

Jag fann det lite förbryllande med de olika uniformerna, men Wikipedias svenska artikel om militäruniformer i Sverige var till hjälp. Uniformen som bärs av farfar på bild nr 1, och av de flesta på bild nr 2, är standarduniformen från 1910. Denna ersattes 1923 av en modernare modell med skärmmössor; men man fortsatte att även använda de gamla uniformerna parallellt. På den sista bilden har några av männen hjälm som ser ut som gamla tiders polishjälm. Men kanske användes denna hjälmtyp också av brandmän? Jag tror att brandförsvaret ursprungligen hörde ihop med det militära försvaret, men har inte hittat några detaljer om detta (årtal osv). Det som leder mina tankar åt det hållet är bl.a. att de övriga på bilden ser ganska sotiga ut!   


  1. It's interesting to see military uniforms so different from the norm, and great research explaining what they were. The helmets have some similarities to the German pickelhaube, which lasted well into the Great War. The kepi-style cap worn by the soldier on the far right in your second photograph is very similar to one my Dutch grandfather is wearing in photographs taken shortly before the Great War.

  2. Wonderful images. I get a kick out of how uncomfortable they all look when seated. When standing they seem to be a bit looser and happy. But put them in rows sitting and they all grumble.

  3. I love the different poses in the second photo. Especially the man with his hand on his hip!
    In the UK (at least in the cities) the fire brigade was part of the police force until the end of the 19th century. Firemen wore a very similar (sometimes the same) uniform as the police even after they split up.

  4. When I saw the first picture I wanted to know what the uniforms were. The way you led us through the rest was interesting to follow especially the descriptions at the end.

  5. Another fascinating post. I am not surprised to learn that the person who took those photographs eventually became a photojournalist - there is a photographers eye there, cropping to the important.

  6. Such an interesting assortment of uniforms. Am I seeing clogs on some of the men?

  7. What an interesting and informative piece on men and their uniforms, with such great photos as well. You sure put together quite a proud collection. Your grandfather was such a handsome man too!