Two weeks before this date, the unit had been in training on Salisbury Plain at Fargo Camp. This was one of three tented camps that had been established in the Larkhill area a few years before the First World War. Looking at pictures of recruit training there from other units, I can see where a few of the group pictures that I have were taken. The rows of bell tents are unmistakeable. In good weather, it must have been quite enjoyable to end the evening sharing good times with your "mates" outside your tent. Not so much fun in the wet! Canvas is notorious for taking a long time to dry off!
It is interesting to make small comparisons with the Territorial Field Ambulance of that day, and the modern Territorial Field Hospital of today. The majority of the men, both "old hands" and new recruits, were from a non medical background. They came mostly from trades which would be called "skilled manual": Printers (quite a few from Exeter), Metalworkers, Shop Assistants, Tailors, Clerks, and General Labourers. A few had skills that were needed, such as Chemist's Apprentices and Nursing Orderlies, but these were relatively few. Looking at the work that they had to do, strong men were required for Bearing and although they needed to know basic first aid, their main task was to carry a man back to an ambulance or a medical post; whereas the Nursing section would have had to gain more skills and knowledge on how to look after their casualties and to assist the medical staff. But no questions were asked on recruitment and no-one suitable was turned down. They did not have to have a medical background. They did not have to fill in endless pieces of paper or complete competencies. They had to be healthy but they did not have to prove it by endless tests. Their training was considered good enough, and they proved that it was by their conduct overseas during the War.
Lastly, going back to the first picture, not being from Exeter myself, I wondered where it was actually taken. If anyone recognises it, please let me know!