Memorial Day

by mc

Vintage photo of an American soldier in a trench in France during WWI

WWI American soldier in trench, Vosges, France 1918 (click to enlarge)

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.

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