my type of motorcycle, with a machine gun sidecar.
Motor machine gunners starting out on a stunt by National Library of Scotland on Flickr.
Motorbike machine gun crews, France, during World War I. Seven or eight machine-gun crews are ready to set out on a sortie. Each crew consists of two men, the driver on a motorbike and the gunner sitting in an armoured sidecar. The officer is in front on a motorbike without a sidecar.
During World War I, motorbikes were used as a quick and easily manoeuvred method of transport, in the same way that jeeps have been used in more recent conflicts.
[Original reads: . ‘OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN ON THE BRITISH WESTERN FRONT IN FRANCE. Motor machine gunners starting out on a “stunt”.’]
This place looks awesome, I’d love to have a Bedouin camp with a bi-plane.
Dug-outs for aeroplanes by National Library of Scotland on Flickr.
R.A.F. aircraft dugouts, France, during World War I. This rather odd contraption on the left of the photograph is, according to the attached caption, the entrance-way to an aircraft dugout. Aircraft bases, although not always immediately behind the front line would have made excellent static targets. Here, however, the soldiers look relatively relaxed and calm.
The R.A.F. was formed on 1st April 1918 as an amalgamation of the Royal Navy Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps. It is, however, now difficult to know when the captions were added to these photographs.
[Original reads: ‘OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN ON THE BRITISH WESTERN FRONT IN FRANCE. Dug-outs for aeroplanes. Many of the R.A.F. Squadrons are very near the line in France & to protect machines from bombs or shells, piles of sandbags are used.’]
Immense R.A.F. machine being tuned up before starting off for Germany with a load of bomb by National Library of Scotland on Flickr.
R.A.F. bomber being tuned, France, during World War I. The size of these machines is conveyed by the perspective in the photograph. The men working on the body of the machine are dwarfed and the wing sweeping across the top of the picture dominates the scene. The mood of the photographer as a result is quite powerful and overbearing.
Two new types of bombs were developed for aircraft use, one for carpet bombing wider targets, the ‘aerial torpedoes’, and a smaller dart for more specific use, called a ‘flechette’.
[Original reads: ‘OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN ON THE BRITISH WESTERN FRONT IN FRANCE. An immense R.A.F. machine being tuned up before starting off for Germany with a load of bombs.’]
Shell stricken church by National Library of Scotland on Flickr.
Although this church has been irreparably damaged by shellfire, traces of its former glory can still be seen in the ruined remains. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the original caption to suggest where on the Western Front this church stood. It is one of countless thousands of French and Belgian buildings that were devastated during the war. In France alone it is estimated that around 300,000 houses and over 1,000 churches were destroyed.
It is thought this photograph was taken by the British official photographer, John Warwick Brooke. During his time at the Western Front, between 1916 and 1918, Warwick Brooke captured much of the devastation caused to the towns and villages lining the Front.
[Original reads: ‘BRITISH OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH FROM THE WESTERN FRONT. A shell stricken church.’]
On the track of the Hun - some of our troops entering town of Peronne by National Library of Scotland on Flickr.
A number of troops are moving through a large cobbled square in Peronne. Piles of rubble line the edges of the street. All of the buildings have been damaged, most likely by shellfire. Most of the men are carrying weapons and packs, and one man carries a large earthenware vessel probably filled with water or some beverage.
The slang British term used here for German, ‘Hun’, gained popular usage after Kaiser Wilhelm II urged his troops to ‘behave like Huns’ to win the war. Peronne was one of a number of villages and towns captured in the Allied advance during the Somme Offensive of 1916.
[Original reads: ‘BRITISH OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH FROM THE WESTERN FRONT. THE FALL OF PERONNE. On the track of the Hun - Some of our troops entering town of Peronne.’]
Officer leads the way amidst the bursting of German shells by National Library of Scotland on Flickr.
This image, the work of the war photographer John Warwick Brooke, admirably illustrates many of the war experiences which are recounted in today’s society. Most action photographs, disseminated at the time for propaganda reasons, were deliberately staged, but this image lacks the cleanliness and order attributed to ‘fake’ situations.
Lance-Corporal Thomas Owen, recalls one of his shelling experiences, ‘The shells were dropping practically on the very brink of the trench. Now the worst had come. We were face down in the slime, with boot and finger and knee clutching and scraping for the veriest inch of cover.’
[Original reads: ‘A raiding party. An officer leads the way amidst the bursting of German shells.’]
Ruins of the church in Peronne after the Huns had done with it by National Library of Scotland on Flickr.
This atmospheric and moving photograph is thought to have been taken by the official war photographer, John Warwick Brooke. The sun is shining down on this scene of wanton destruction. The older and more sculpted parts of the church are still in situ, which only underlines the lost grandeur and beauty.
The slang British term used here for German, ‘Hun, gained popular usage after Kaiser Wilhelm II urged his troops to ‘behave like Huns’ to win the war. The damage in Peronne was eventually so bad, that King George V visited himself: both to inspect the ruins and to boost morale.
[Original reads: ‘OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN ON THE FRONT IN FRANCE. Ruins of the church in Peronne after the Huns had done with it.’]