BEHIND THE IMAGE – Deserted Trench

Abandoned British position captured by the Germans This cold and desolate image shows an abandoned British trench following a German attack, with mounted German infantry looming menacingly in the background. An inscription on the back of the photograph reads, Die Große Schlacht im Westen. Der Stab einer Infanterie-Division … ueberscreiten einer genommenen engl. Stellung. This […]

BEHIND THE IMAGE – Race to the Sea

The 16th (The Queen’s) Lancers (3rd Cavalry Brigade) advancing from the Marne to the Aisne, September 1914 Keith Robinson studies the aesthetics of this WWI photograph. At first this seems a generally quiet, almost static photograph dominated by the horizontals of earth and sky. But our eye is drawn from left to right as a […]


War on Film: Paths of Glory

Taylor Downing revisits Stanley Kubrick’s breakout movie dealing with the controversial topic of execution for cowardice in the First World War.



The Iron Duke leads a Battle Fleet, July 1914 This image exudes orderliness and power. Strong horizontals, emphasised by the landscape format, suggest stability and a sense of balance. Much like a piece of Classical architecture, this photograph conveys a sense of rightness to the order of things, depicting a reassuring world, kept stable by […]


BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD – Calamity with a ‘K’

It was a bold tactical concept. With war looming in 1913, the Royal Navy requested a submarine with sufficient surface speed to operate alongside the fleet in combined actions. Conventional submarines were powered by a diesel motor on the surface, which also charged the batteries for use while submerged. In order to achieve the required […]



Larry Collins looks at the function of theatre entertainment during the First World War and its role as unofficial recruiter, propagandist, and fund-raiser. The usual location for entertainments was at depots and rest camps in the rear, but there was always the YMCA canteen hut situated a short distance behind the front-line trenches. At one […]


YOUR MH – ‘A model of what a war hospital under canvas should be’

Michael MacCallan’s grandfather Arthur was an ophthalmic surgeon. He helped convert Travelling Ophthalmic Hospitals into WWI military hospitals for the support of the sick and wounded of the Suez, Gallipoli, and Salonica campaigns. This is his story. In 1903, when Arthur MacCallan (1872-1955) had just finished his residency at Moorfields, an oculist in Egypt asked […]

YOUR MH – the case of Albert Rickman

Albert Rickman was born in Milford-on-Sea and lived with his parents, Charles and Anne Rickman, at 4 Carrington Terrace. On Friday 15 September 1916, at the age of 27, he was executed following a court martial for desertion. Retired army officer and local resident John Cockram investigates the circumstances surrounding his death. In August 1914 […]

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