This is a negative recently found in the Los Angeles area, taken by an American engineering officer (his name, Robert Allen, is written on the negative at bottom right) who went to France in 1918 and returned to L.A. after the war. Something of a photographer as well as an engineer, many of his images are of WWI life behind the lines, including shots of downed airplanes, abandoned German tanks, his various living quarters, ruined buildings, French towns and people, etc. But several of them, like this, were taken on the front lines.
On the right side it reads: “In trenches, N.W. of Senones Vosges – Front Line – Aug. 29 – 18.”
One brief moment where the unnamed soldier turned for a quick photo, lost in an envelope in a box of papers, perhaps not seen since shortly after it was taken. But now, in a small way, not forgotten. And although Memorial Day is of course a commemoration of men and women who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces, and I have no idea what happened to this man, so many were lost in and around trenches like this (estimates of Americans killed in the war – including, incidentally, a great uncle of mine – hover around 116,000, in the space of only a little over a year and a half of fighting) that I feel he can serve as a fitting subject for a day focused on remembering the sacrifices made by so many.
Wonderful find! I’ve sent a link to an online friend/collector who is interested in photos such as this that have writing on the negs.
My friend and I are wondering if this soldier is possibly African-American. If so he might be from the 369th Infantry Regiment. Do any of your other shots show African-Americans?
I apologize for the delay in responding. I have very few that show soldiers up close. There are however a couple that are labeled ’92nd Division’, which seems to have been one of two African-American fighting divisions in WWI, along with the 93rd (the 369th Infantry Regiment was part of the 93rd Division if I am correct). The men are pictured standing around in a large group, near a building described as holding some German prisoners. But that’s about it.
Glad you liked the shot. Thanks very much,