The Western Front


1917 Vest Pocket Kodak

The photographs below were made on the Somme and near Messines with vintage Vest Pocket Kodaks from The Great War period. More of these images can be seen here: The Great War

Two of the locations pictured are very much associated with football.


Prowse Point Military Cemetery

In 1914 opposing armies observed a Christmas truce close to Prowse Point, gathering together in no man’s land to celebrate. It was also reported football was played. To this day, many footballs are left at the cemetery to commemorate a truly remarkable and peaceful event.


Montauban – The Somme

Montauban was the scene of an attack led by Captain Wilfred ‘Billie’ Nevill, who instructed the 8th East Surreys to kick a number of footballs out into no man’s land as they went over the top. It’s believed Captain Nevill said he would award a prize to the first man to kick a football into the opposing trenches. Sadly, he died during the attack. Two of the footballs were recovered and are held in museums.


The Quadrangle – The Somme

Lieutenant Siegfried Sassoon, the poet, was involved in action at The Quadrangle for which he was awarded the Military Cross. Sassoon described the scene a ‘sunlit picture of hell’.


Albert Basilica and Mural – The Somme

The mural depicts the statue of Mary and the infant Jesus in a precarious state, having been shelled in 1915. The statue remained in this position until 1918 when the tower was destroyed by further shelling.

© Simon Howlett 2015. All rights reserved

13 thoughts on “The Western Front

    • Thank you. It’s good to hear you’re writing about your visit to Belgium. As the poet, Laurence Binyon wrote:

      “At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
      We will remember them.”

  1. I’m sure ‘a sunlit picture of hell’ was a damned good description too unfortunately.

    My Dad still has a camera like the one in your photo as well as a Box Brownie. Not sure what the folding one is.

    • Yes, Sassoon’s words really struck me. The Quadrangle is such a peaceful place to visit these days, hard to imagine the carnage and destruction ‘Mad Jack’ witnessed. (Sassoon’s nickname following his almost suicidal exploits at the front).

      The Box Brownie … a classic. Would be nice to know the make/model your Dad’s folding camera is. Is he still not using it?

  2. These photographs speak volumes ~ bring on the peace, it is so much more beautiful and fair to the people who matter. These shots are even more special coming from such a great piece of history itself. Wonderful post Simon.

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