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With Remembrance Day Coming, Have A Look At These Rare Soldier Portraits From The First World War
November 6, 2012
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with-remembrance-day-coming-have-a-look-at-these-rare-soldier-portraits-from-the-first-world-war-feature1.jpg

With Remembrance Day coming up this Sunday, it's a poignant time for this exhibit currently on display in Australia.

It's a series of photos taken during the First World War, from behind the front lines.

with-remembrance-day-coming-have-a-look-at-these-rare-soldier-portraits-from-the-first-world-war-feature4.jpg

They were taken in the small village of Vignacourt in northern France, when soldiers had a bit of down time from fighting - which was rare.

The photos were taken by a local French couple who set up a makeshift studio and sold the photos as postcards for the troops to send home.

But until now, they've never been seen publicly.

For more than 100 years, the photos were in a trunk in the attic in a French farmhouse and were only discovered last year.

The BBC has a great story about the photos. Check it out below.

Curator Dr. Janda Gooding told Australia's ABC News that it's one of the most important recent finds from World War I.

"It's really important because there were so few cameras allowed on the Western Front during that period," Gooding said. "So we have this fabulous insight into their lives, the experiences that are often reflected on their faces."

with-remembrance-day-coming-have-a-look-at-these-rare-soldier-portraits-from-the-first-world-war-feature3.jpg Gooding says the pictures send powerful messages.

"I'm alive is the first one, I'm well, I'm actually with mates and I'm being supported," she said. "I imagine for families these were important objects for them to keep."

And Gooding says she's hoping visitors might be able to identify some of the faces.

with-remembrance-day-coming-have-a-look-at-these-rare-soldier-portraits-from-the-first-world-war-feature2.jpg "We've been able to identify quite a few of the men, but the majority remain unknown at this point," she said.

"To help identify these men we're posting all of the images online and inviting people to comment and submit identification if they can."

In all, the French couple - Louis and Antoinette Thuillier - had nearly 4,000 glass plated negatives showing British, French, Australian, American and Indian soldiers, as well as Chinese labour corps, and French civilians.

More than 800 of the negatives featuring Australian soldiers were donated to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

The exhibit - called Remember me: the lost diggers of Vignacourt - showcases 74 photos that were specially hand-printed in the Memorial's darkrooms from the original glass-plate negatives.

You can see more images on the lost diggers Facebook page.

Related stories

It's One Week Until Remembrance Day: Here Are Some Powerful Ways To Remember The Second World War

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