Appeal for Objects: Pastimes of Soldiers during the First World War

Images of soldiers from the frontline during the First World War often show them spending their non-fighting time, smoking, playing cards, writing letters and attending to their equipment.

These activities could be attributed to the lack of space available to the soldiers within the trenches. It is also well known that a game of football would have been played when the opportunity presented itself.


Armistice Day Football Match

The soldiers of the 2/4th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry, as well as other Battalions of the SLI, travelled the world and were deployed on a number of fronts beyond Europe.

The 2/4th Battalion landed in India in December 1914, and in August 1915 they moved to the Andaman Islands before returning to India in January 1916. After that they were sent to Egypt in 1917 before going to France in June 1918.

One of the soldiers of the 2/4th Battalion George Padfield made embroidery during his time in India, a departure from the more familiar recreational activities listed above.

 Embroidery by George Padfield


Embroidery by George Padfield

This may seem an unusual pastime for a man to undertake but there is evidence for the creative needlework of British military men in India from the late 19th Century including quilts.

Other items created during the First World War were sweetheart pin cushions, often made from kits given to soldiers recovering from their injuries.

Somerset Light Infantry Sweetheart Pin Cushion

Somerset Light Infantry Sweetheart Pin Cushion

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