Vintage Snapshots

the wondrous world of vernacular photography

Category: War

Pete of C Company, 8th Infantry

Vintage circa WWI photo of a dog named Pete who was the mascot for the US Army C Company, 8th Infantry

Pete, circa 1910s/1920s (click to enlarge)

That looks like one nice dog. I would love to know more about him, but — unsurprisingly — can’t find any mention of him anywhere. He seems to have been regarded with affection in any case.

Wore the Wall Out

Vintage snapshot photo of a wall against which German soldiers in WWII executed prisoners

Circa 1945 snapshot inscribed on rear as below (click to enlarge)

Vintage snapshot rear inscription detailing German executions during WWII

“This wall is where the Germans — them up and shot them. Damn(?) near wore the wall out.”

The 70th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day, and a small reminder of the immeasurable debt owed to so many in a blurry snapshot with some writing on the back.

Coverage of the day often understandably concentrates on the tremendous celebrations that broke out over much of the UK, the United States and Canada as well as parts of Europe, but here is a more understated anecdote found on the website of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: “In the book Days of Victory by Ted and Alex Barris, medic Ernie Long remembered hearing the news of the ceasefire. ‘We sat there in stunned silence,’ he said, ‘looking at each other until one of us said what we were all thinking — ‘The war is over, and I’m still alive!’. No cheers. No shouts. Just a shocked realization that we had made it through the war.'”

Memorial Day

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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