Saturday 10 December 2016

Faces of history: Pictures of World War I soldiers keep battle memories alive

Catherine Wylie

Published 11/11/2011 | 08:04

Private Tickle, one of one hundred portraits of people who served in the First World War that will be published online by the Imperial War Museum. Photo: PA
Private Tickle, one of one hundred portraits of people who served in the First World War that will be published online by the Imperial War Museum. Photo: PA
Maurice Sharpe, 21 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, one of one hundred portraits of people who served in the First World War that will be published online by the Imperial War Museum. Photo: PA
Major James Logie Harcus, 20th Battalion, 5th Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Forces. Photo: PA

PRIVATE "Billie Boy" Tickle was "one of the very best", according to a hand-written note on an old photograph by the mother of a young man killed during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

  • Go To

The haunting image of the grinning 18-year-old is one of 100 portraits of those who served in the First World War published today by the Imperial War Museum (IWM).



The museum is appealing to the public to help find out more about all the servicemen whose images make up the online exhibition but about whom little else is known.



The collection of photographs - Faces of the First World War - is part of the IWM's preparations to mark the centenary of the Great War of 1914-18.



The snapshots of servicemen has been sourced from thousands of portraits acquired by the museum when it was founded in 1917.



Many of the photographs have not been widely seen before and some are accompanied by just a name, rank and unit.



The body of Lieutenant Maurice Sharpe was never found after his aircraft was disabled as he flew over the Front Line during the Battle of the Somme. Yet his photograph remains and is included in the exhibition.



Visitors to the website can see a young-looking Stoker Petty Officer Harold Jordan.



He was aboard HMS Strongbow when it was sunk during an attack on a merchant ship convoy on September 17, 1917.



Scottish-born Gaelic speaker Major James Logie Harcus is also pictured. He emigrated to Australia in 1907 and qualified as a barrister in 1912.



On outbreak of the First World War, Major Harcus volunteered for active service and was part of the Australian force which took control of German colonies in Papua New Guinea in September 1914.



Major Harcus was killed in action, aged 34, at Tel el Kebir, on December 11, 1915. He is buried at Walker's Ridge cemetery in Gallipoli.



Captain Percy Ernest Bass cuts a handsome figure in his portrait and even though he is believed to have survived the war, there is no further information available about him.



The IWM will continue to upload a new portrait to picture website Flickr Commons every weekday until August 2014.



The museum was able to build a portrait collection following an international public appeal between 1917 and 1920 which was advertised in both the press and ration books.



Diane Lees, director general at the IWM, said: "The First World War centenary is a landmark anniversary for Britain and the world. The war was a turning point in world history.



"It claimed the lives of over 16 million people across the globe and affected the lives of millions more.



"Everybody in the world has a connection to the First World War, either through their own family history, links to their local community or because of its long-term impact on the world we live in today.



"Through projects like Faces of the First World War and the wider centenary programme, IWM will help reconnect people with the First World War and keep the history and personal recollections of the war alive."



The exhibition can be viewed at www.1914.org/faces.



Read More

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in World News