Imperial War Museum commemorates Armistice Day by releasing photos of WWI dead on Flickr

By Richard Moss | 10 November 2011
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a series of photographs of WWI soldiers
© IWM Commons
Private Tickle, Captain Percy Ernest Bass, Private Thomas Newton. The fading names we read on war memorials are by turns familiar, distant or even comical, but it’s sometimes hard to picture the real people that lie behind these poignant reminders of the First World War.

Now the Imperial War Museum has launched a new initiative through the social networking and photo sharing site Flickr, aiming to put faces to some of these names.

To mark Armistice Day 11.11.11,  and the coming centenary of the Great War's outbreak in 1914, the IWM has made 100 portraits of people who served available through their Faces of the First World War project on Flickr Commons.

The photographs were acquired by the museum betwenn 1917 and 1920 as part of its mission to record experiences of the war and offer a personal and poignant record of its impact.

In some cases bereaved families donated their only photograph. Some of them have only a name, rank and unit - others are accompanied by detailed letters and biographies. Britain and the Commonwealth are represented, as are the range of military ranks and services.

More portraits with biographical details will be added to the site every weekday until August 2014, the 100th anniversary of the war's outbreak.

The aim is to help the public discover the life stories of the people in the photographs by adding comments, information, links or text to the photos. It is hoped people may find an ancestor or make a connection to a name on a local war memorial or from a local regiment.

"The First World War Centenary is a landmark anniversary for Britain and the world," says IWM Director General Diane Lees. "The war was a turning point in world history. It claimed the lives of more than 16 million people across the globe and affected the lives of millions more."

Lees says that, despite the intervening century, everybody in the world "still 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."

Faces of the First World War is part of IWM’s preparations to mark the First World War Centenary in 2014-2018 by leading an ambitious four-year programme of cultural activities across the country, including the opening of brand new First World War galleries at IWM London in 2014. See more at www.1914.org
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