From the Trenches ‘The Great War’ Collects Astonishing Photographs From World War I (PHOTOS)
World War I was not the first war to be photographed, but it was the first conflict where soldiers and civilians alike took up their own cameras to make a record of what happened, on and off the battlefield.
Lieutenant Ernest Brooks, British Army photographer. Courtesy of IWM
World War I was not the first war to be photographed, but it was the first conflict where soldiers and civilians alike took up their own cameras to make a record of what happened, on and off the battlefield. The results were not always polished, but sometimes they were astonishingly good, and always they provide a much needed contrast to the photographs taken by professional photographers in the service of governments and the press. From the millions of images in the collection of the British Imperial War Museum, Mark Holborn and Hilary Roberts have curated 380 pictures that bring the sprawling conflict into focus as never before.
All images here are excerpted from
The Great War: A Photographic Narrative (Alfred. A. Knopf). At the Beginning
Ist Cameronians having disembarked from the Caledonia as part of the British Expeditionary Froce, Le Havre, France, August 156, 1914. Personal photograph taken by Lieutenant Richard Money, 1st Cameronians, BEF. Courtesy of IWM.
The War in the Air
The Bristol Scout, shown here on a reconnaissance mission over the Western Front in February 1916, was one of the first British single-seater fighter aircraft. Fast and maneuverable, it was used primarily for scouting. Photography Chief Petty Officer A. Blackwell, Royal Naval Air Service. Courtesy of IWM.
Unknown photographer, Imperial German Army. Courtesy of IWM Canine Corps
A German messenger dog leaps a trench near Sedan, Ardennes, France. May 1917. Unknown photographer, Imperial German Army. Courtesy of IWM.
The United States joined the war in April 1917. Here soldiers in the American Expeditionary Forces march down Piccadilly in London on August 16, 1917. Unknown photographer, Sport & General commercial news agency. Courtesy of IWM
Change in the Landscape
Victorious American troops replace a German street sign with their own versionm St. Mihiel Salient, France, September 1918. Unknown photographer, U.S. Army Signal Corps. Courtesy of IWM
The RAF Triumphant
By 1918, the Royal Air Force, having established air superiority over Germany, lauanched a strategic bombing campaign directly over Germany. Shown here are Royal Air Force Handley Page O/400 bombers at Coudekerque airfield, near Dunkirk, France, April 20, 1918. Photo by 2nd Lieutenant David McLellan, British Army photographer. Courtesy of IWM.
Lieutenant John Warwick Brooke, British Army photographer. Courtesy of IWM Night Work
Bombing in the night (rear) illuminates British troops carrying duckboards up to the front lines, Cambrai, France. January 12, 1917. Photograph by John Warwick Brook, British Army photographer. Courtesy IWM.
Lieutenant John Warwick Brooke, British Army photographer. Courtesy of IWM Fortunes of War
The corpse of a German soldier, killed outside his dugout, Beaumont Hamel, Somme, France. November 1918. Photograph by Lt. Ernest Brooks, British Army photographer. Courtesy IWM.
A troop ship of British Expeditionary Force carrying the 11th Hussars approaches Le Havre, France, August 16, 1914. Personal photograph by Col. Thomas T. Pitman, 11th Hussars, BEF. Courtesy of IWM.
Members of the Royal Army Medical Corps search through packs belonging to dead soldiers for letters and personal effects to be sent to families after the battle of Guillemont, France, Wester Front, September 1916. Photography by Lt. John Warwick Brooke, British Army photographer. Courtesy of IWM.
The landings at V Beach as seen from SS River Clyde, Sedd el Bahr, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, April 25, 1915. An estimated 6,500 British tropps became casualties at V Beach. Personal photograph of Lt. C.N. Graham, RN. Courtesy of IWM