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World War I

The First World War is so commonly overshadowed by the Second World War. This war was also less well documented by photography. The relatively smaller amount of WWI war photographs still carry the heavy and important message of that conflict that shaped our world.

In the shadow of WWII, and now over 100 years in the past, WWI is thus seldom referenced in modern culture. This is so unfortunate because of the immense sacrifice and dedication made by its participants. I hope that my renewal of these images will help us to fully appreciate the reality of the lives and experiences of the subjects in these photographs.

US. Soldier bidding his family farewell to fight in WWI, 1917 (Image Source)

"Private T. P. Loughlin of the 69th Regiment, New York National Guard, (165th Infantry) bidding his family farewell." I was able to find the fate of this soldier: According to John Mahon's book, "New York's Fighting Sixty-Ninth: A Regimental History of Service in the Civil War's Irish Brigade and the Great War's Rainbow Division, Loughlin joined the regiment in October 1915, was mobilized in 1917 and went overseas with Company B, First Battalion, 165th Infantry. He was founded at St. Mihiel, but did eventually return safely with the rest of the regiment in May 1919. Mahon got this information from the New York State Archives, WWI Service card 89332, Thomas P. Loughlin." I'd like to think there was a similar but different kind of embrace when he arrived home. Loughlin died September 25th, 1956.

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 Mephisto (pictured) is a World War I German tank, the only surviving example of an A7V. The tank became stuck in a shell-hole and was later abandoned by its crew in April 1918. It was later recovered by Allied troops of the Australian Army, and was shipped back to Australia as a war trophy. Australian War Memorial's website has some more great information on the history and process of how it acquired the tank.

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WWI German Zeppelin forced to land over France recovered Intact, 1917 (Image Source)

On the night of October 19, 1917, eleven German zeppelins slowly ascended from their depots and headed toward the English coast on what was expected to be a 25-hour raid. Although hampered by British anti-aircraft guns, they managed to drop all of their bombs, killing 34 people and wounding 56 others. When the zeppelins attempted to return to base, they ran into headwinds and fog; eight of the 11 accidentally crossed the Alsatian border into Central France and crash landed. They were then promptly captured by members of the French Army who later converted it into a fundraising propaganda opportunity. Within days of capture, Parisians were waiting in long lines to buy war bonds sold from the zeppelin’s gondola.

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French children mock execute a "Captured German Soldier" during WWI, 1917 (Image Source)

This photograph is by Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud who had connections with Auguste and Louis Lumière, inventors of the autochrome process. He ranks as one of the pioneers of French photography, working for much of his career as an official photographer in the army. He took more than 3,000 photographs at the Western front. Tournassoud’s style is strongly influenced by nineteenth-century Romantic painting, and the photographs in this series show his fondness for staged tableaux.

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Aftermath of the third battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), 1917 (Image Source)

This photo was taken just after the infamous WWI 3rd Battle of Ypres, 1917, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele. Passchendaele serves as a vivid symbol of the mud, madness, and senseless slaughter of the Western Front. This image is of some locals and a soldier posing on a disabled artillery piece in front of a heavily damaged 13th century "Ypres Cloth Hall", a medieval building used for the trading of cloth and wool.