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Scene in a captured village

Two British soldiers sitting on the ground, leaning against a brick building. They are both looking at a small booklet or pamphlet, and appear to be amused by what they are reading. The man on the right has a bandage wrapped around his head. The ground they are sitting on is dry and dusty, probably a welcome change from the mud that pervaded much of the Front. Painted on the building is the German word 'Ottskrankenstube' alongside a cross.


The nickname 'Tommy' entered into general usage after the Rudyard Kipling poems, 'Tommy' and 'To Thomas Atkins' (1892), which pay homage to the sturdy character of the average British soldier. It is possible this image, along with its light-hearted and condescending caption, was used as propaganda by the Government and Military. Injecting humour into the words people read and censoring the pictures people saw, deflected attention away from the negative and terrible aspects of war.


[Original reads: 'BRITISH OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH FROM THE WESTERN FRONT. Scene in a captured village. A wounded Tommy and another enjoying a joke in a book. Above them is seen a German Red Cross direction notice.']

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Taken circa 1918