Dressed in their regimental kilts and army tunics, these three officers from the Gordon Highlanders are sharing a joke and cigarette at the entrance to their underworld dugout. The fresh earth on the dugouts roof suggests this is a new dugout. All three men are wearing puttees on their legs. Derived from the Hindu word, ‘patti, army puttees were a type of protective cloth or wool legging, that were wound round the leg from the ankle to the knee.
The dugout in the photograph would have been located somewhere behind the front line. Frontline dugouts were adjoined to the trench system, to give the men somewhere to shelter in during a bombardment. Dugouts behind the frontline were made more comfortable, and men could sleep and relax in them when on a short leave from the front line. Interestingly, the word dugout was also used to refer to elderly officers and men who had retired from the armed forces, but had volunteered to rejoin the services again in an administrative or training role.
[Original reads: 'OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN ON THE BRITISH WESTERN FRONT. Three Officers of the Gordons chatting at entrance of a Dug-out.']