54 Fantastic Black-and-White Photographs Showing Everyday Life of Soldiers and Civilians during World War I

As countries caught up in the war sent soldiers to the front lines, they also built support behind the lines and at home, with women taking many roles. As villages became battlefields, refugees were scattered across Europe.

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.
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.
Three unidentified New Zealand servicemen riding camels during World War I, the Sphinx and a pyramid in the background.
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.
A French officer has tea with English military personnel during World War I.
Western front, a group of captured Allied soldiers representing 8 nationalities: Anamite (Vietnamese), Tunisian, Senegalese, Sudanese, Russian, American, Portugese, and English.
German prisoners assist in bringing in Australian wounded.
Interior, German military kitchen, 1917.
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.
British soldier poses in mouth of a captured 38 caliber gun during World War I.
Unidentified time and location, photograph from the “Pictorial Panorama of the Great War” collection, simply titled “Merci, Kamerad”.
Massed German prisoners in France, probably taken after the Allied advance of August 1918.
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.
Recruits line up at a New York army camp shortly after President Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany, in April of 1917.
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.
Red Cross volunteers Alice Borden, Helen Campbell, Edith McHieble, Maude Fisher, Kath Hoagland, Frances Riker, Marion Penny, Fredericka Bull, and Edith Farr.
“Wild Eye”, the Souvenir King.
A member of the British First Aid Nursing Yeomanry oiling her car near the Western Front.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some Canadian wounded being taken to the dressing station on a light railway from the firing line.
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.
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.
The Kaiser’s Birthday. German officers during the Kaiser’s birthday celebrations in Rauscedo, Italy, on January 27, 1918.
French dragoon and chasseur soldiers at the beginning of World War One.
British ambulance drivers stand atop a pile of rubble.
Villagers interested in the arrival of British troops.
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.
British soldiers play football while wearing gas masks, France, 1916.
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.
Between Laon and Soissons, German railway troops wash their clothes beside 50 cm shells, on July 19, 1918.
Berlin — Children of soldiers at front.
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.
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.
French patrol in occupied Essen, Germany.
The Famous 369th Arrive in New York City, 1919. Members of the 369th [African American] Infantry, formerly 15th New York Regulars.
A soldier of Company K, 110th Regt. Infantry (formerly 3rd and 10th Inf., Pennsylvania National Guard), just wounded, receiving first-aid treatment from a comrade. Varennes-en-Argonne, France, on September 26, 1918.
London buses, shipped to France, being used to move up a division of Australian troops. Reninghelst. 2nd Division. 1918
A French soldier aiming an anti-aircraft machine gun from a trench at Perthes les Hurlus, eastern France. 1918
British soldier in a flooded dug-out, on the front lines, France.
Two Tanks knocked out of action near Tank Corner, Ypres Salient, October 1917.
Battery C, Sixth Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Division, from the U.S., in action on the front at Beaumont, France, on September 12, 1918.
A British firing squad prepares to execute a German spy somewhere in Great Britain, date unknown.
US Army 37-mm gun crew manning their weapon on September 26, 1918 during the World War I Meuse-Argonne (Maas-Argonne) Allied offensive, France.
Wounded British prisoner supported by two German soldiers, 1917.
German troops cross a field, 1918.
Trench position Chemin des Dames, May 1918. Two German soldiers (the closest one wearing a British sergeant’s overcoat) move through a temporarily abandoned French trench (occupied by the British), collecting useful items of equipment. Dead English and German soldiers lie in the trench, the area littered with gear and weaponry from both sides.
British soldier cleaning a rifle, Western Front. His growth of beard suggests he may have been continuously in the trenches for several days.
Royal Air Force planes being loaded with munitions in France.
Dead horses and a broken cart on Menin Road, troops in the distance, Ypres sector, Belgium, in 1917.
A shattered church in the ruins of Neuvilly becomes a temporary shelter for American wounded being treated by the 110th Sanitary Train, 4th Ambulance Corps. France, on September 20, 1918.
Soldiers in a field wave their helmets and cheer on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, location unknown.

(via The Atlantic)

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