1916 - 1918: The Trenches


The Imperial War Museum in London, England represents one of the seminal museums dedicated to conflict in the world. As part of a £40 million pound transformation, new exhibitions documenting World War 1 were created, including a life sized 'trench' of which the following images form a part.

Working with ISO, Imperial War Museum's exhibition designers, several images were chosen from the IWM's own archives to be reconstructed in colour. Every aspect of each photograph was identified, down to the shade of mud. The results are life sized images of soldiers projected literally into the middle of the trench.


January 1917
Messines, Belgium

by Lieutenant John Warwick Brooke
The Imperial War Museums, IWM Q 4649

Men of the Lancashire Fusiliers sit in a muddy puddle on the floor of a front line trench opposite Messines to clean a Lewis gun. Behind them, as the trench bends round to the right, a group of men can be seen standing in the trench, one of them with his bayonet fixed. To the left of the photograph can be seen the gas alarm horn and wind vane. Several rows of sandbags form the top left-hand edge of the trench.


Guerdecourt, France

by Captain Herbert F Baldwin
The Imperial War Museums, IWM E(AUS)572

Informal portrait of Captain Charles Bean, Australian Official War Correspondent, knee deep in mud in Gird trench near Gueudecourt in France, during the winter of 1916-1917.


November 1917
Ypres, France

by Rider-Rider, W (Lt)
The Imperial War Museums, IWM CO 2196A

Two men of the 42nd Canadian Infantry Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada) clean a Lewis Gun in a reserve trench during the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), November 1917.


May 1917
Bairakli Jum’a, Macedonia

by Ariel Varges
The Imperial War Museums, IWM Q 32896

Troops of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, 85th Brigade, 28th Division manning a trench near Bairakli Jum'a,


7th February 1918
Essigny, France

by Second Lieutenant Thomas Keith Aitken
The Imperial War Museums, IWM Q 10681

Officers of the 12th Royal Irish Rifles wading through the mud of a fallen-in [alternatively: collapsed] communication trench, the result of a thaw after weeks of snow. They had recently taken over from the French 6th Division.


1st July, 1916
The Somme, France

by Royal Engineers No 1 Printing Company
The Imperial War Museums, IWM Q 66

Battle of Albert. Officers of the Royal Engineers in a communication trench. Rearmost officer wearing Other Ranks tunic. Unidentified headquarters sign in background.


1916 - 1918

Thank you to
Mark Breslin, ISO and Imperial War Museums

Produced by
ISO for Imperial War Museums

© Imperial War Museums