History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. ~Winston Churchill

13 July, 2011

Smiling at the Front

As we have discussed, British WWI photographs had to be taken by official photographers, and approved before release to paint a certain kind of picture for the people back home. Naturally any pictures where the soldiers looked slightly less miserable were the government's favourite, and it isn't uncommon to find photos of men smiling. I find these quite compelling because there's a few kinds. There's the 'smile for the folks back home' (look cheerful!) pics, which are most common;  the 'smile because otherwise you'd want to shoot yourself' pics; and even occasionally a smile from an actual sliver of fun or amusement or pleasure. And sometimes, more than one at once. 

Soldier washing in a shell hole. Source

Captioned [by officials] 'It just missed us'. Haha, shelling, great fun. Source

Smiling gunners and their 'pet'. Source

Soldier scrubbing his clothes (they didn't in fact get to do this much). Source

Two officers going curling with blocks of ice on a frozen canal. Source

A soldier (on the left) who has just been pulled out of mud up to his chest. Sometimes all you can do is laugh. Source

Soldiers on the ice, many of them slipping and laughing. Source

Soldiers swimming in a pond, a special treat. Source

"Forcing a smile"...Americans at the front, being silly. Source

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