I recently visited the Ljungbyhed museum of the Scania Cavalry Regiment, the Royal Swedish Fifth Air Regiment and place for The first flight-school in Swedish aviation history in the south part of Sweden, to photograph a certain portrait painting for a project a friend of mine are working on. It was a quite and calm Saturday afternoon and I had plenty of time, just like my friend and man responsible for the museum. Most museums have been hit hard by the consequences of the resent pandemic and the visitors have naturally been kept away. So we had plenty of time, and the man at the museum enjoyed himself talking to the two interested visitors (and my wife who isn't the regular military buff, but very interested likewise).
Walking around the museum, I noted the lack of everyday photographs taken by the soldiers and officers themselves. The photographs where mostly great quality images taken by the official staff-photographer and had officers, NCO's and soldiers on stiff poses with horses, vehicles, royalties and visiting dignitaries. All in the great manners representative for a proud regiment. Talking to the man at the museum, I brought up the subject of private photographs, and that my collection (of Hungarian) military photo materials contains mostly privately taken images in great contrast to most museums I have visited.
He then told me that it's one dilemma most military museums (that cares about true history) struggles with. Since most of the existing historical photo-materials where taken at special events, by assigned photographers, the everyday life where documented by the by the soldiers and disappeared into their private photo albums, never to be accessed by the museums. Only in rare cases are great photo material presented to museums and ends up in the hands of collectors.
I left the museum in Ljungbyhed after few intense hours with great memories and a great feeling for the acquired knowledge of their history. The humour and enthusiasm of our guide left me with new inspiration for my own research, and strive to continue the historical work I do. But the most important lessons learned where the immense importance of privately taken photographs by the soldiers in their everyday life. Like the photograph above, soldiers goofing around, out of order, playing like the young men (kids) they are in that age. A moment surely not ending up in any museum, but still a glimpse of the everyday life.