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British cavalry passing the ruins of Albert cathedral, France, during World War I | by National Library of Scotland
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British cavalry passing the ruins of Albert cathedral, France, during World War I

British cavalry passing the ruins of Albert cathedral, France, during World War I. World War I provided endless striking subjects for a photographer as skilled as Tom Aitken. There is something very funereal about the composition of this picture, with the procession of horses in the foreground trooping past the shell of a once-beautiful cathedral. The small town of Albert was badly damaged in fierce fighting during the Allied offensive of August 1918.

 

Cavalry was considered an important part of all armies at the start of World War I, but the regiments faced terrible difficulties on the Western Front. Differences and advances in military strategy, such as the use of barbed wire and the introduction of machine guns and new artillery, made the horses vulnerable as never before, and many cavalry troops ended up fighting instead as infantry.

 

[Original reads: 'OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN ON THE BRITISH WESTERN FRONT IN FRANCE. Albert Cathedral showing cavalry passing by.']

 

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Taken circa 1918