Sunny Snaps, 1937, Canning Town, London.
A group of eight lads out on the town in 1937 in this well worn Sunny Snaps walking picture, but what is the occasion? Six of them are wearing pale berets and five appear to have elaborate rosettes pinned to their their lapels. Geoff Jones sent me the scan, the postcard is from his family collection. It shows – second from the right – Geoff’s Uncle Fred, his Mother’s twin brother.
We have covered a number of Sunny Snaps postcards here before. There is no location given but it does match the ambience seen in many of the firm’s London walking pictures. I had a look through material I’ve gleaned from the web and found another Sunny Snaps walkie from what seems to be the exact same spot (the trees and tram posts match closely), also taken in 1937 (kindly sent by Graham Walton). There is a bit about the firm Sunny Snaps on the site, and more examples posted if you search for the firm’s name.
The lads in Geoff’s example all lived in East London around Canning Town, but the photo is a little ‘soft’ so we could not make out enough detail to try and match it to any street today. However Geoff has just found another Sunny Snaps card taken on the exact same spot two years later in 1939, and this he has located to Barking Road, Canning Town E13. The church just visible on the new find is Trinity Church. So mystery solved. The church was pulled down in the 1950s for a block of flats.
My suggestion is that they were probably on their way to a football match; I have seen photographs of footie fans wearing berets in the immediate pre-War era (see below). As to which team, again we don’t know, though Geoff feels it was probably West Ham. I had a look at maps and there were several important clubs within a couple of miles walk of Canning Town – and needless to say it would be wrong to err on such an important matter! If any football history fans out there can shed any light on it, please get in touch.
As for the lads themselves, the story becomes quite poignant. WW2 was declared two years after it was taken and Geoff’s Mum – who kept hold of the picture – says his Uncle Fred was killed during the Anzio battle in Italy in January to June 1944. All the other lads joined up as well, but not one of them survived the war. I am kind of used to this sort of story about WW1 but somehow you tend to forget that similar losses did occur during WW2 as well.
My thanks to Geoff for sharing it.