When I started to collect pictures of WW1 stuff from Pinterest, a pattern emerged. I kept seeing pictures of soldiers, usually taken in a studio, in uniform. I wondered what they were about when I found the picture taken of my great uncle Roscoe in an album and I realized what the pictures were for. Here’s Uncle Roscoe in his US Army Air Service uniform probably just before embarking for France.
These pictures were taken to be memorials for those left behind if the soldiers did not return home, as so many did not. I’ve seen memorial pics from all the combatants with the possible exception of the Ottomans. These are the faces of the men, sometimes boys and women who were going “over there” and knowing that they may not be coming back.
Here’s my Pinterest board of the Memorial pics I’ve found so far.
Here’s a Flikr album created by the Imperial War Museum.
And the page on the Imperial War Museum website.
More pics from the Australian War museum.
Another article with more pics.
One expression that seems to be on almost all the faces is anxiety. Even when it’s obvious that the men in the pictures are trying to exude a feeling of confidence and determination, they by and large fail. These are people trying to put a strong face on the fact that they know that they may not be back from “over there.” Yet there they are, going on regardless. That, to me makes them the heroes that they were.