A century ago, World War I began.
Soon enough, the front lines became home to millions of soldiers from France, Germany, Russia, the U.S., and many other nations. For the next four years, soldiers slept, ate, bathed, prayed, and died on these front lines.
And now, thanks to a collection of never-before-seen photographs released by Reuters Pictures, we can witness those everyday actions as they unfold in muddy trenches, at camp sites, and across the dried out fields tragically peppered with freshly dug graves. Hundreds of glass plates were reportedly left behind by a viscount who was entrenched with the Armoured Cavalry Branch of the French Army at the time. That the specifics of the photographer and the dates go unknown make the bleak scenes all the more powerful.
On Memorial Day, as we remember our own fallen, and take a look back at the foreign troops who fought for their countries — and for their comrades in arms.
Soldiers maneuver a cannon on the rear guard near an unknown front. | (REUTERS/Collection Odette Carrez)
Officers inspect trenches on the Argonne front. | (REUTERS/Collection Odette Carrez)
Artillery officers relay instructions via telephone on how to adjust cannon fire in a trench. | (REUTERS/Collection Odette Carrez)
A soldier aims an anti-aircraft machine gun from his post in a trench at Perthes les Hurlus, in eastern France. | (REUTERS/Collection Odette Carrez)
Carcasses of animals await cooking by soldiers on the Champagne front, in eastern France. | (REUTERS/Collection Odette Carrez)
Troops from the rear guard pause to eat lunch near Arras, in northern France. | (REUTERS/Collection Odette Carrez)
A soldier pauses after taking a shower, next to a placard which reads: "Thermal complex of the Poilu, showers, massages, chiropodist, manicurist. Free massages for women." | (REUTERS/Collection Odette Carrez)
Soldiers attend an entertainment show at Suippes, on the Champagne Front. | (REUTERS/Collection Odette Carrez)
A priest conducts mass for French soldiers on the Champagne front. | (REUTERS/Collection Odette Carrez)
Soldiers pose outside their shack, which they called, "The Chalet," at la Sapiniere, near Lachalade on the Argonne front. | (REUTERS/Collection Odette Carrez)
An officer stands near a cemetery of recently dug graves, at Saint-Jean-sur-Tourbe, on the Champagne front. | (REUTERS/Collection Odette Carrez)