Today is the 100th anniversary of the day Britain declared war on Germany at the start of World War 1. As it is mostly out of living memory now, the First World War has a tendency to seem a very distant conflict, but when you look at some of the photographs taken at the time it helps to bring home some of the realities of a war in which over 9 million people died.
These pictures give a glimpse into life on the front line of the war in the trenches, with it’s devastated landscape and some of the grim realities of trench warfare. Despite terrible losses an astonishing 9 out of 10 British soldiers survived to return home (although many with ruined health), many of which were still only teenagers. The youngest recorded soldier in the war was a 12 year old who lied about his age to be able to join up. I can’t even imagine how a 12-year-old would cope with the realities of war.
Just look at the mud in that photo of the stretcher bearers below, how on earth did they keep moving through that?!
Also, if you have time take a look at this amazing tribute to the fallen in WW1 at the Tower of London, where they have created a sea of ceramic poppies – talk about dramatic! Isn’t it amazing?
Above: Soldiers of an Australian 4th Division field artillery brigade on a duckboard track passing through Chateau Wood, near Hooge in the Ypres salient, 29 October 1917.