CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

Monday, April 6, 2015

Historians have unearthed nearly 2,000 perfectly preserved examples of poignant graffiti written on the walls of a cave 100 feet beneath the French countryside

 

 

 

 

   

Laid to rest in the street: The haunting images of soldiers on the front line during the First World War

  • Poignant images on display at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Rome
  • Exhibit features images of executions and emaciated prisoners
  • Many of the exhibits were censored during the First World War
  • Documents include notifications for military tribunal death sentences

Haunting and poignant, these previously unpublished First World War pictures capture the bloody conflict in Italy like never before.

The images and documents are on display at Italy's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, commemorating the war's 100th anniversary.

The exhibit features images of executions and emaciated prisoners of war that were censored during wartime, as well as notifications for military tribunal death sentences that were posted on the streets of Rome.

In this 1917 photo, an Italian soldier stands in front of an executed soldier  during the First World War in Italy

+6

In this 1917 photo, an Italian soldier stands in front of an executed soldier during the First World War in Italy

It also includes videos, letters and diaries that detail the horrors of trench warfare. 'Now we are like beasts that are hunted,' wrote a 37-year-old Italian corporal.

'You go to the slaughterhouse without realising it.'

Much of the material was discovered in government archives through a re-cataloguing process that began in 2006. Franco Marini, head of the national anniversary committee, said that the war, which mobilised millions of soldiers from all over the country, was instrumental in constructing the nation's identity after Italian unification in 1861.

'They came from completely different realities,' he said. 'It was three years, not just 15 minutes, three years that they lived together, day and night, sharing the same dangers.'

A modern series of photographs by Luca Campigotto revisits the remains of trenches, shelters and villages on the Italian front.

A victim lies dead in the streets of Gorizia, Italy. This picture is one of the previously unpublished images on show at the Museo Centrale del Rinascimento in Rome

+6

A victim lies dead in the streets of Gorizia, Italy. This picture is one of the previously unpublished images on show at the Museo Centrale del Rinascimento in Rome

Previously unpublished: A barbed wire fence is used as a defence on the Italian Front in 1917

+6

Previously unpublished: A barbed wire fence is used as a defence on the Italian Front in 1917

A soldier guards inside of a rock bunker at an alpine defence position in Italy in 1918

+6

A soldier guards inside of a rock bunker at an alpine defence position in Italy in 1918

An interactive iPhone and iPad app allows visitors to learn more about the history behind the photos during their visit.

Marini said the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was a particularly apt location for the exhibit because it 'is the emblem of the great sacrifices made during the world war.'

The exhibit runs till July 30.

Italian soldiers use a beacon from a bunker during the First World War on the Italian Front

+6

Italian soldiers use a beacon from a bunker during the First World War on the Italian Front

Italian soldiers sit in a trench on the Italian Front during the First World War

+6

Italian soldiers sit in a trench on the Italian Front during the First World War

When war broke out in the summer of 1914, Italy declared itself neutral in the conflict, despite its membership in the so-called Triple Alliance alongside Germany and Austria-Hungary since 1882.

Over the course of the months that followed, Italy and its leaders weighed their options; wooed by both sides, they carefully considered how to gain the greatest benefit from participation in the war.

The decision to join the fray on the side of the Allies was based largely on the assurances Italy received in the Treaty of London, signed in April 1915.

On May 23, 1915, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary. The Italian declaration opened up a new front in World War I, stretching 600 kilometers - most of them mountainous - along Italy's border with Austria-Hungary.

By the time fighting ended on the Italian front on November 4, 1918 - a week before the general armistice - 615,000 Italians had been killed in action or died of wounds sustained in First World War.

A century after the start of World War I, Belgium and France are still scarred by over 1,000 graveyards, countless bomb craters, rusting gas shells, bunkers and trenches that tore apart the Western Front for four years.

The 1914-18 conflict was so unprecedented in its scope and savagery that it became known simply as "The Great War." The front line of death and destruction burned through the Alps, Central Europe, the Balkans and Russia, spilling into present-day Turkey and reaching beyond to the Middle East and as far as China.

World War I claimed some 14 million lives — 5 million civilians and 9 million soldiers, sailors and airmen from 28 countries, from India to South Africa to the United States. At least 7 million troops were left permanently disabled.

ONE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE FILE - In this June 28, 1914 file photo, the Archduke of Austria Franz Ferdinand, center right, an...

+24

ONE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE FILE - In this June 28, 1914 file photo, the Archduke of Austria Franz Ferdinand, center right, and his wife Sophie, center left, walk to their a car in Sarajevo. This photo was taken minutes before the assassination of the Archduke and his wife, an event which set off a chain reaction of events which would eventually lead to World War One. (AP Photo, File)

The Associated Press has pulled key moments from its vast archive of World War I photographs and assembled them into a 100-photo timeline, beginning with the steps Archduke Ferdinand took with his wife shortly before he was assassinated to major troop deployments and the early battles in Belgium and France in 1914.

The selection shows the scope of the battles and destruction, from the Eastern Front to the Western Front to Gallipoli, from the Battle of Jutland to the horrors of Verdun, the Somme and the muddy, bloody fields of Passchendaele. It reflects technological changes such as tanks, artillery, airpower and the poisonous chemical gas that came to define WW1.

It ends with the deployment of American troops in 1917 and, after four years of fighting and exhaustion, the Armistice in 1918.

CORRECTION TO REMOVE THE NAME OF THE SUSPECT   TWO OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE  FILE -In this June 28, 1914 file photo, a suspect,...

+24

CORRECTION TO REMOVE THE NAME OF THE SUSPECT TWO OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE FILE -In this June 28, 1914 file photo, a suspect, second right, is captured by police in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. Princip fired the shots that assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie. (AP Photo File)

SEVEN OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this undated file photo, Serbian soldiers take position on the battle line. Some of the fir...

+24

SEVEN OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this undated file photo, Serbian soldiers take position on the battle line. Some of the first battles of World War One were fought between Serbia and Austria-Hungary around the Cer Mountain region. (AP Photo, File)

NINE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this August 1914 file photo, German troops stand in formation during the occupation of Bruss...

+24

NINE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this August 1914 file photo, German troops stand in formation during the occupation of Brussels. (AP Photo, File)

ELEVEN OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this Aug. 1914 file photo, a Belgian machine gun detachment sets up near Haelen, Belgium. ...

+24

ELEVEN OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this Aug. 1914 file photo, a Belgian machine gun detachment sets up near Haelen, Belgium. The Belgians often used dogs to draw the ammunitions cart. The Battle of Haelen was also known as the Battle of the Silver Helmets. (AP Photo, File)

TWENTY OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this 1914 file photo, small boats, pushed together, create a pontoon bridge over the Schel...

+24

TWENTY OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this 1914 file photo, small boats, pushed together, create a pontoon bridge over the Scheldt River in Antwerp, Belgium. The bridge was constructed during World War One for residents and troops to escape the German Army. (AP Photo, File)

TWENTY ONE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this 1914 file photo, Allied troops huddle in a trench around a tiny fire near Ypres, ...

+24

TWENTY ONE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this 1914 file photo, Allied troops huddle in a trench around a tiny fire near Ypres, Belgium. (AP Photo, File)

TWENTY EIGHT OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this undated file photo, Allied soldiers eat and drink in a shell hole in France dur...

+24

TWENTY EIGHT OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this undated file photo, Allied soldiers eat and drink in a shell hole in France during World War One. (AP Photo, File)

THIRTY FOUR OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this undated photo, French troops man a lookout in France during a battle in the Argo...

+24

THIRTY FOUR OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this undated photo, French troops man a lookout in France during a battle in the Argonne Forest during World War One. (AP Photo, File)

THIRTY FIVE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE-In this undated file photos German troops cut a barbed wire fence in an unknown location. ...

+24

THIRTY FIVE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE-In this undated file photos German troops cut a barbed wire fence in an unknown location. (AP Photo, File)

THIRTY SEVEN OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this undated file photo, an unidentified soldier, wearing a gas mask around his neck...

+24

THIRTY SEVEN OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this undated file photo, an unidentified soldier, wearing a gas mask around his neck, bangs on a frying pan as a gas warning on the field near Reims, France. (AP Photo, File)

FORTY OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE-In this May 1, 1915 file photo, the British cargo and passenger ship Lusitania as it sets out fo...

+24

FORTY OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE-In this May 1, 1915 file photo, the British cargo and passenger ship Lusitania as it sets out for England on its last voyage from New York City. The British ocean liner was sunk off Ireland on May 7, 1915 by a German U-Boat, killing 1,150 people, 114 of them Americans. (AP Photo, File)

FORTY THREE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this 1915 file photo, Turkish soldiers raise their flag at Kanli Sirt, Gallipoli, Tur...

+24

FORTY THREE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this 1915 file photo, Turkish soldiers raise their flag at Kanli Sirt, Gallipoli, Turkey during World War One. (AP Photo, File)

FORTY FIVE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this April 8, 1916 file photo, French soldiers move troops and cargo at Nixeville, Fra...

+24

FORTY FIVE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this April 8, 1916 file photo, French soldiers move troops and cargo at Nixeville, France, during the World War One Battle of Verdun. (AP Photo, File)

FORTY NINE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this Oct. 1917 file photo, French troops in a shell hole during the offensive which re...

+24

FORTY NINE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this Oct. 1917 file photo, French troops in a shell hole during the offensive which resulted in its winning back of the Chemin des Dames in France at the end of October 1917. (AP Photo, File)

FIFTY FIVE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this 1916 file photo, German troops man a machine gun post from a trench at the Vistul...

+24

FIFTY FIVE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this 1916 file photo, German troops man a machine gun post from a trench at the Vistula River in Russia during World War One. (AP Photo, File)

FIFTY SIX OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this 1916 file photo, Australian artillery soldiers operate a large caliber gun at the ...

+24

FIFTY SIX OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this 1916 file photo, Australian artillery soldiers operate a large caliber gun at the Somme front, in France during World War One. (AP Photo, File)

SIXTY ONE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE-In this 1917 file photo, German soldiers bring in Canadian wounded during the Battle of Vimy...

+24

SIXTY ONE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE-In this 1917 file photo, German soldiers bring in Canadian wounded during the Battle of Vimy, France during World War One. (AP Photo, File)

SEVENTY TWO OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this undated file photo, British troops run under heavy fire outside Cambrai, France ...

SEVENTY TWO OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this undated file photo, British troops run under heavy fire outside Cambrai, France during World War One. (AP Photo, File)

SEVENTY NINE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this 1917 photo provided by the U.S. Signal Corps, the first 5,000 American soldiers...

+24

SEVENTY NINE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this 1917 photo provided by the U.S. Signal Corps, the first 5,000 American soldiers to reach England march across historic Westminster Bridge in London. (AP Photo/U.S. Signal Corps)

EIGHTY OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this June 13, 1917 file photo, U.S. Army General John J. Pershing, center, inspects French...

+24

EIGHTY OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this June 13, 1917 file photo, U.S. Army General John J. Pershing, center, inspects French troops at Boulogne, France. (AP Photo, File)

EIGHTY FOUR OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this 1916 file photo, German flying ace Manfred von Richthofen, also known as the "Re...

+24

EIGHTY FOUR OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this 1916 file photo, German flying ace Manfred von Richthofen, also known as the "Red Baron," is shown returning from a mission at his squadron's aerodrome. Von Richthofen was shot down and killed over France in April 1918. (AP Photo, File)

NINETY FIVE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this 1918 file photo, U.S. Marines respond to a gas attack near Verdun, France during...

+24

NINETY FIVE OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this 1918 file photo, U.S. Marines respond to a gas attack near Verdun, France during World War One. (AP Photo, File)

NINETY SIX OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this Sept. 26, 1918 file photo, a U.S .Army 37-mm gun crew man their position during t...

+24

NINETY SIX OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this Sept. 26, 1918 file photo, a U.S .Army 37-mm gun crew man their position during the World War One Meuse-Argonne Allied offensive in France. (AP Photo, File)

ONE HUNDRED OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this 1918 file photo, American troops, near St. Mihiel, France, cheer after hearing t...

+24

ONE HUNDRED OF ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY TIMELINE - In this 1918 file photo, American troops, near St. Mihiel, France, cheer after hearing the news that the Armistice has been signed, ending World War One. (AP Photo, File)

 

 




 

 

 

 

Historians have unearthed nearly 2,000 perfectly preserved examples of poignant graffiti written on the walls of a cave 100 feet beneath the French countryside by doomed First World War soldiers just weeks before they were to join the fighting on the Western Front.

The inscriptions were found in Naours - a two-hour drive north of Paris - and left for posterity by young men facing the horror of trench warfare a few dozen miles away at the Somme.

The site's proximity to the battlefields, where more than a million men were killed or wounded, adds to the discovery's importance, with experts saying: 'It provides insight into how they found a sense of meaning in the conflict.'

Scroll down for video

Poignant: The names of 9th Battalion Australians' G. Fitzhenry of Paddington, Sydney and Alistair Ross of Lismore are engraved on the walls of the former chalk quarry in Naours, northern France and dated July 1916

+13

Poignant: The names of 9th Battalion Australians' G. Fitzhenry of Paddington, Sydney and Alistair Ross of Lismore are engraved on the walls of the former chalk quarry in Naours, northern France and dated July 1916

Horror or war: The inscriptions were found in Naours - a two-hour drive north of Paris - and left for posterity by young men facing the doom of trench warfare a few dozen miles away at the Somme 

+13

Horror or war: The inscriptions were found in Naours - a two-hour drive north of Paris - and left for posterity by young men facing the doom of trench warfare a few dozen miles away at the Somme

A direction sign engraved with the names of soldiers who went on to fight at the Somme is seen at the site in Naours, northern France

+13

A direction sign engraved with the names of soldiers who went on to fight at the Somme is seen at the site in Naours, northern France

Discovery: Nearly 2,000 century-old inscriptions that have recently come to light at the former chalk quarry in Naours, northern France

+13

Discovery: Nearly 2,000 century-old inscriptions that have recently come to light at the former chalk quarry in Naours, northern France

One inscription found in a rough-hewn passage 100 feet underground read: 'James Cockburn 8th Durham L.I.' It's cut so clean it could have been left yesterday. Only the date next to it - April 1, 1917 - roots it in the horrors of the First World War.

The piece of graffiti is just one of nearly 2,000 century-old inscriptions that have recently come to light in Naours.

'It shows how soldiers form a sense of place and an understanding of their role in a harsh and hostile environment,' said historian Ross Wilson of Chichester University in Britain.

Etchings, even scratched bas-reliefs, were left by many soldiers during the war. But those in Naours 'would be one of the highest concentrations of inscriptions on the Western Front' that stretches from Switzerland to the North Sea, said Wilson.

Photographer Jeff Gusky has tallied 1,821 individual names: 731 Australians, 339 British, 55 Americans, a handful of French and Canadians and 662 others whose nationalities have yet to be traced.

'All these guys wanted to be remembered,' Gusky says, pointing out examples from Texas and Florida.

Photographer shows WW1 inscriptions on cave walls

 

American soldier: This inscription reads 'HA Deanate, 148th Aero Squadron, USA. 150 Vermilyea Ave, New York City'

+13

American soldier: This inscription reads 'HA Deanate, 148th Aero Squadron, USA. 150 Vermilyea Ave, New York City'

In this photo taken Friday Feb. 20, 2015,  Jeffrey Gusky, a photographer and physician from Texas points at graffitis in a former chalk quarry, at the Cite Souterraine, Underground City, in Naours, northern France. Gusky began photographing the site last December and has tallied 1,821 individual names: 731 Australians, 339 British, 55 Americans, a handful of French and Canadians and 662 others whose nationalities have yet to be traced. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)

+13

In this photo taken Friday Feb. 20, 2015,  Jeffrey Gusky, a photographer and physician from Texas points at graffiti in a former chalk quarry, at the Cite Souterraine, Underground City, in Naours, northern France. Gusky began photographing the site last December and has tallied 1,821 individual names: 731 Australians, 339 British, 55 Americans, a handful of French and Canadians and 662 others whose nationalities have yet to be traced. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)

+13

Looking: Jeffrey Gusky, a photographer and physician from Texas points at graffiti in theformer chalk quarry, in Naours, northern France

History: The site's proximity to the Somme battlefields, where more than a million men were killed or wounded, adds to the discovery's importance, with experts saying: 'It provides insight into how they found a sense of meaning in the conflict' 

+13

History: The site's proximity to the Somme battlefields, where more than a million men were killed or wounded, adds to the discovery's importance, with experts saying: 'It provides insight into how they found a sense of meaning in the conflict'

Painstaking: Jeffrey Gusky began photographing the site last December and has so far tallied 1,821 individual names: 731 Australians, 339 British, 55 Americans, a handful of French and Canadians and 662 others whose nationalities have yet to be traced

+13

Painstaking: Jeffrey Gusky began photographing the site last December and has so far tallied 1,821 individual names: 731 Australians, 339 British, 55 Americans, a handful of French and Canadians and 662 others whose nationalities have yet to be traced

Naours' underground city is a two-mile-long complex of tunnels with hundreds of chambers dug out over centuries in the chalky Picardy plateau. During the Middle Ages villagers took shelter there from marauding armies crisscrossing northern France.

By the 18th century the quarry's entrance was blocked off and forgotten.

In 1887 a local priest rediscovered the site and it eventually became a tourist attraction. That's what likely drew the soldiers to it during the war, said Gilles Prilaux, an archaeologist for France's national archaeology institute.

Gusky began a three-year study of the tunnels last July, intending to focus on the site's medieval past - but stumbled on this more recent slice of history.

'It was a big surprise' Prilaux said of the discovery of the World War I graffiti left by soldiers from Australia, Britain, Canada and the U.S.

Soldiers left similar inscriptions in tunnels at Arras and Vimy. But unlike those sites, Naours is well back from the front lines. And it wasn't known to have been used as a shelter or hospital like other Western Front quarries.

Naours' underground city is a two-mile-long complex of tunnels with hundreds of chambers dug out over centuries in the Picardy plateau

+13

Naours' underground city is a two-mile-long complex of tunnels with hundreds of chambers dug out over centuries in the Picardy plateau

 Location: Naours is only a few miles from Vignacourt, a town used as a staging area for troops moving up to and back from the Somme battlefields some 25 miles to the east

+13

Location: Naours is only a few miles from Vignacourt, a town used as a staging area for troops moving up to and back from the Somme battlefields some 25 miles to the east

Taking a break: Experts believe the young soldiers from distant countries would have heard about the famous 'Naours caves' and taken advantage of a break from war to do some sight-seeing

+13

Taking a break: Experts believe the young soldiers from distant countries would have heard about the famous 'Naours caves' and taken advantage of a break from war to do some sight-seeing

Surprise find: Jeffrey Gusky began a three-year study of the tunnels last July, intending to focus on the site's medieval past - but stumbled on this more recent slice of history 

+13

Surprise find: Jeffrey Gusky began a three-year study of the tunnels last July, intending to focus on the site's medieval past - but stumbled on this more recent slice of history

Naours is only a few miles from Vignacourt, a town used as a staging area for troops moving up to and back from the Somme battlefields some 25 miles to the east. Prilaux thinks that the young soldiers from distant countries would have heard about the famous 'Naours caves' and taken advantage of a break from war to do some sight-seeing.

That idea is backed by an entry in the diary of Wilfred Joseph Allan Allsop, a 23-year-old private from Sydney, Australia. 'At 1 p.m. 10 of us went to the famous Caves near Naours where refugees used to hide in times of Invasion' Allsop wrote on Jan. 2, 1917.

Wilson said the importance of studying graffiti like this has only emerged in the last 10 to 20 years.

'What were previously regarded as incidental acts that occur away from the battlefield have been shown to be highly important in understanding the lives of those who experienced the conflict,' Wilson said.

One of the most moving inscriptions at Naours was made by Herbert John Leach, a 25-year-old from Adelaide. His inscription reads 'HJ Leach. Merely a private. 13/7/16. SA Australia.'

Barely a month after Leach added his name to the wall he was killed in action on Aug. 23, 1916, during the Battle of Pozieres.

On his grave, in the Australian cemetery in nearby Flers, his father inscribed 'Duty Nobly Done.'

 

 

 

When looking through thousands of images of World War I, some of the more striking photos are not of technological wonders or battle-scarred landscapes, but of the human beings caught up in the chaos. The soldiers were men, young and old, and the opportunity to look into their faces and see the emotion, their humanity, instead of a uniform or nationality, is a gift - a real window into the world a century ago. While soldiers bore the brunt of the war, civilians were involved on a massive scale as well. From the millions of refugees forced from their homes, to the volunteer ambulance drivers, cooks, and nurses, to the civilian support groups used by all major armies, ordinary people found themselves at war. Today's entry is a glimpse into the lives of these people, in battle, at play, at rest, and at work, during World War I. On this 100-year anniversary, I've gathered photographs of the Great War from dozens of collections, some digitized for the first time, to try to tell the story of the conflict, those caught up in it, and how much it affected the world.

1

French soldiers stand in a relaxed group wearing medals. The medals appear to be the Military Medal, established on 25th March, 1916, for acts of bravery. They have probably been awarded for their part in the Battle of the Somme. The French helmets, with their very distinct crests, can be seen clearly. (National Library of Scotland)

2

Private Ernest Stambash, Co. K, 165th Infantry, 42nd division, receives a cigarette from Miss Anna Rochester, American Red Cross volunteer at Evacuation Hospital No. 6 and 7, at Souilly, Meuse, France, on October 14, 1918. (AP Photo) #

3

Three unidentified New Zealand servicemen riding camels during World War I, the Sphinx and a pyramid in the background.(James McAllister/National Library of New Zealand) #

4

A large group of soldiers, likely South African infantry, having a good time. They are stamping their feet and brandishing anything that comes to hand, from walking sticks to swords. It is all being done in a light-hearted fashion, with most of the men pulling funny faces and smiling. Many of the soldiers are wearing kilts and balmorals. (National Library of Scotland) #

5

A French officer has tea with English military personnel during World War I. (Library of Congress) #

6

Western front, a group of captured Allied soldiers representing 8 nationalities: Anamite (Vietnamese), Tunisian, Senegalese, Sudanese, Russian, American, Portugese, and English. (National Archive/Official German Photograph of WWI) #

7

German prisoners assist in bringing in Australian wounded. (National Media Museum/Australian War Records Section) #

8

Highlanders on the Western Front, killed and later stripped of their socks and boots, ca. 1916. (Brett Butterworth) #

9

Interior, German military kitchen, ca. 1917. (Brett Butterworth) #

10

U.S. Signal Corps telephone operators in Advance Sector, 3 km from the trenches in France. The women were part of the Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators Unit and were also known as Hello Girls. Women have helmets and gas masks in bags on back of chairs. (National World War I Museum, Kansas City, Missouri, USA) #

11

British soldier poses in mouth of a captured 38 caliber gun during World War I. (AP Photo) #

12

Unidentified time and location, photograph from the "Pictorial Panorama of the Great War" collection, simply titled "Merci, Kamerad".(State Library of New South Wales) #

13

Massed German prisoners in France, probably taken after the Allied advance of August 1918. (National Library of Scotland) #

14

French soldiers, some wounded, some dead, after the taking of Courcelles, in the department of Oise, France, in June of 1918.(National Archives) #

15

French soldier whose face was mutilated in World War I, being fitted with a mask made at the American Red Cross studio of Anna Coleman Ladd. (Library of Congress) #

16

Recruits line up at a New York army camp shortly after President Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany, in April of 1917. (AP Photo) #

17

Women\'s Army Auxiliary Corps (W.A.A.C.) members play field hockey with soldiers in France, during World War I, drying greens and convalescent home buildings visible in the background. (National Library of Scotland) #

18

Red Cross volunteers Alice Borden, Helen Campbell, Edith McHieble, Maude Fisher, Kath Hoagland, Frances Riker, Marion Penny, Fredericka Bull, and Edith Farr. (Library of Congress) #

19

"Wild Eye", the Souvenir King. (Frank Hurley/National Media Museum) #

20

A member of the British First Aid Nursing Yeomanry oiling her car near the Western Front. (National Library of Scotland) #

21

Undated image, reportedly of Corporal Adolf Hitler of the German Army, standing at left (under the "+") with his comrades forming the band "Kapelle Krach", during recovery from an injury he received on the western front during World War I. (AP Photo) #

22

Dressed in a rather exotic uniform of army boots, army caps and fur coats, this image shows five female members of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry standing in front of some Red Cross ambulances. As the first female recruits of this organization came from the ranks of the upper classes, perhaps the fur coats should not be too surprising. The women would have worked as drivers, nurses and cooks. Established by Lord Kitchener in 1907, the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) was initially an auxiliary unit of women nurses on horseback, who linked the military field hospitals with the frontline troops. Serving in dangerous forward areas, by the end of the conflict First Aid Nursing Yeomanry members had been awarded 17 Military Medals, 1 Legion d\'Honneur and 27 Croix de Guerre. A memorial to those women who lost their lives while working for the organization, can be found at St Paul\'s Church, Knightsbridge, London. (National Library of Scotland) #

23

Guiseppe Uggesi, an Italian soldier in 223rd Infantry, who was in an Austrian Prison Camp at Milowitz, confined to bed with tuberculosis in January of 1919. (Library of Congress) #

24

Labour Corps members, the caption identifies these seven men as \'native police\'. They are probably black South Africans who had contracted to work in the South African Native Labour Contingent (SANLC). In general the native police and NCOs were recruited from tribal chiefs or high-status native families. Some 20,000 South Africans worked in the SANLC during the war. They were not meant to be in combat zones, but there were inevitable deaths when the docks or transport lines on which they worked were bombed. The greatest tragedy was the sinking of the troopship SS Mendi on February 21, 1917, when 617 members of the SANLC were drowned in the English Channel.(National Library of Scotland) #

25

Some Canadian wounded being taken to the dressing station on a light railway from the firing line. (Nationaal Archief) #

26

German troops in Finland during the Finnish Civil War, part of a series of conflicts spurred on by World War I. Red troops, both men and women, ready for deportation from Hango, in April of 1918. Two main groups, "Reds" and "Whites" were battling for control of Finland, with the Whites gaining the upper hand in April of 1918, helped by thousands of German soldiers.(National Archive/Official German Photograph of WWI) #

27

A group of female carpenters work in a lumber yard in France, constructing wooden huts. While they do not have a uniform, all the women appear to be wearing a protective coat or pinafore over their clothing. It is thought this photograph was taken by the British official photographer, John Warwick Brooke. Q.M.A.A.C. stands for Queen Mary\'s Army Auxiliary Corps. Formed in 1917 to replace the Women\'s Auxiliary Army Corp, by 1918 around 57,000 women made up the ranks of Q.M.A.A.C. (National Library of Scotland) #

28

The Kaiser\'s Birthday. German officers during the Kaiser\'s birthday celebrations in Rauscedo, Italy, on January 27, 1918.(CC BY SA Carola Eugster) #

29

French dragoon and chasseur soldiers at the beginning of World War One. (Library of Congress) #

30

British ambulance drivers stand atop a pile of rubble. (Library of Congress) #

31

German prisoners, during World War I. Portraits of a German prisoners taken by an official British photographer, to be shown to folks back home. (National Library of Scotland) #

32

Villagers interested in the arrival of British troops. (National Library of Scotland) #

33

Western Front. A Captured British soldier salvages the valuables of fellow Englishmen killed in battle, in April of 1918.(National Archive/Official German Photograph of WWI) #

34

During downtime, soldiers from Britain, France and the USA, plus some members of the Women\'s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) watch French children playing in the sand, in France, during World War I. (National Library of Scotland) #

35

British soldiers play football while wearing gas masks, France, 1916. (Bibliotheque nationale de France) #

36

Three young-looking German prisoners of war. Their clothes are caked in mud and are a mishmash of styles. The soldier on the left still has his helmet, but the others have bandages wrapped round their heads. (National Library of Scotland) #

37

Between Laon and Soissons, German railway troops wash their clothes beside 50 cm shells, on July 19, 1918.(National Archive/Official German Photograph of WWI) #

38

Thiepval, September 1916. Bodies of German soldiers strewn across the bottom of a trench. (National World War I Museum, Kansas City, Missouri, USA) #

39

Berlin -- Children of soldiers at front. (Library of Congress) #

40

Watched by a group of locals, German prisoners of war walk down a street in the French town of Solesmes, on November 1, 1918, near the end of World War I. (Henry Armytage Sanders/National Library of New Zealand) #

41

German NCOs from Infanterie-Regiment No. 358 pose for the photographer as if they were drinking wine, feasting on gherkins and playing cards while wearing gas masks. (Brett Butterworth) #

42

French patrol in occupied Essen, Germany. (Library of Congress) #

43

The Famous 369th Arrive in New York City ca. 1919. Members of the 369th [African American] Infantry, formerly 15th New York Regulars.(U.S. National Archives) #

44

A fallen Russian soldier being buried where he fell by civilians being overseen by the Germans. Russia lost some two million men in combat during World War I. (Brett Butterworth) #

45

German machine-gun nest and dead gunner at Villers Devy Dun Sassey, France, on November 4, 1918 -- one week before the end of the war.(NARA/Lt. M. S. Lentz/U.S. Army)

   

No comments: