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The Great War, National Library of Schotland

World War I (WWI or WW1), also known as the First World War, or the Great War, was a global war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. World War I Images From National Library of Schotland.
These photographs form part of the papers of Field Marshal (Earl) Haig (1861-1928), held by the National Library of Scotland. More information is available from the Library's Digital Archive.

Like many World War I generals, Haig remains a controversial figure. The collection contains diaries, papers and photographs from every part of Haig’s career, the Great War diaries being of special importance to historians.

Photographs in the "Official Photographs" series (which were destined for publication and have captions on the back describing the image) are in black-and-white. World War I saw the development of a system of 'official’ reporting by professionals especially recruited into the forces. Initially reluctant to allow cameras near the fighting, it took some time for the authorities to appreciate the propaganda and recording potential of photography.

These photographs provide us with an invaluable record of how the Government and Military wanted the war perceived. Official photographers were encouraged to record morale-boosting scenes of victory and comradeship. Despite the restrictions placed on them, official war photographers succeeded in giving the most comprehensive visual account of the war. It is important to remember that these images were propaganda; few that could depict the war in a disheartening or disconcerting way passed the censors. As a result the photograph taken was often posed. They were intended to reassure those at home and boost morale. They were printed in newspapers, and were intended to confirm that 'Tommy' was winning the war.
King George V and Allied commanders, France, during World War I
1,991 Media in collectionpage 1 of 20

King & Queen and H.R.H. The Prince of Wales

King George V, Queen Mary and H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, taken during a visit to the Western Front in France. They are positioned in front of a large brick building with French windows. The King and Queen are ... more

Ebert, the Chairman, opening the sitting

Imperial conference of the German Federal States in the Congress Hall of the Imperial Chancellor's Palace. Friedrich Ebert, Berlin, possibly 1918. This photograph shows Friedrich Ebert (1871-1925) addressing co... more

East Indian

Photographs of other East Indians, mainly from Manipur, not in the Indian Cavalry...digital.nls.uk/75210267 ( http://digital.nls.uk/75210267 )

Earl Haig replying to the King of the Belgians and thanking him for unveiling the Memorial

Unveiling of memorial, Messines, Belgium, after World War I. This is one of two photographs of Field Marshal (Earl) Haig (1861-1928) at the unveiling of the memorial of the London Scottish Regiment at Messines,... more

Earl Haig inspecting the guard of honour

General Haig inspecting troops, Messine, Belgium. The image is framed by two rows of soldiers down either side, angling away from the camera. Between them General Haig and his staff are approaching the photogra... more

Eastern scene by the roadside

Indian cavalrymen playing cards, France, during World War I . A group of soldiers from the Indian Army are standing watching four of their friends playing cards on a wooden crate. One of the card players is wea... more

Effect of a high explosive shell on the ground alongside a road

Almost as if a meteor had smashed into the earth, this image shows two British soldiers surveying the damage following the explosion of a large shell. The soldier standing in the bomb crater helps to give a goo... more

Effect of an incendiary shell

Fire-fighters enter a burning building after an incendiary bombing in France, during World War I. In the photograph a man stands silhouetted in the window of a burning building as he attempts to douse the flame... more

Each loaf is weighed

Taken in a bakery set up behind the front line, this image shows rows of men shaping dough into loaves for baking. The small scales positioned along the worktops allow the men to carefully weigh the dough. The ... more

Effect of a direct hit on a tree

Shell-torn tree, France, during World War I. This photograph shows a tree that has been blown apart by a shell. The trunk has been totally shredded and is a graphic illustration of the destructive power of the ... more

King watching the Battle of Pozieres from captured German trenches

HRH King George V of Britain (1865-1936) watching the Battle of Pozieres through a telescope. Other officers stand around watching through field glasses. This photograph is likely to have been taken between 23 ... more

King visits the men who man the tanks at the Front

King George V visiting tank crews at the Front, in France, during World War I. In the photograph, King George V is on the right of the leading group of officers, in military uniform. Haig appears to be in the f... more

King with French President and Sir W Haig

King George V with the French President, Raymond Poincare, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, and two French generals, during World War I. This official photograph shows from right to left, King George V of Britai... more

King of the Belgians being received by Earl Haig

Unveiling of memorial, Messines, Belgium, after World War I. This is one of two photographs of Field Marshal (Earl) Haig (1861-1928) at the unveiling of the memorial of the London Scottish Regiment at Messines,... more

King of Montenegro and the Commander-in-Chief inspecting the Guard of Honour

Haig, as Commander-in-Chief of the British forces, walks to the left of King Nikola I Petrovic of Montenegro (1860-1918). The king, wearing a long white coat, is acknowledging the Guard of Honour who are drawn ... more

King of Belgium's chaffeur in trouble

Three cars are parked up in a row with three mechanics working over four tyres behind them. Four officers watch over the scene and they appear to be laughing and joking. In the background a field and tents are ... more

Kitchens in a trench

This image of a soldier cooking at a stove while standing in a trench might seem rather unusual, but this trench would certainly not be in the immediate front line as the smoke from such a stove would have attr... more

King of Montenegro and Lt. Gen. Sir E.H.H. Allenby

This shows King Nikola I Petrovic of Montenegro (1860-1918) standing beside Lt.Gen. Sir E.H.H. Allenby outside a large house with louvered shutters. The king is in Montenegrin costume, with loose trousers held ... more

King of Belgium crossing No Man's Land in the newly captured territory

King Albert crossing no man's land, during World War I. King Albert is standing on a duckboard bridge across a very deep ditch while another man is starting to follow behind him. The field around him is very hi... more

King of Belgium with General Allenby

Three men have just walked round a parked car while four men wait on the opposite pavement to greet them. The car is parked in a lane, in front of a row of cottages. On the opposite side of the lane is a fence ... more

King of Belgium chats with the officer of the Guard of Honour

Albert I, King of Belgium during a visit to the Western Front. According to the photograph's original caption he is speaking to the officer of the Guard of Honour. Behind them soldiers are lined up for inspecti... more

King inspecting the S.A.N. Labourers

King George V standing in front of members of the S.A.N.L.C. The men are standing to attention and are ready for inspection. The King is surrounded by army officials. Queen Mary is standing in the background wa... more

King of Belgium chats with the officer of the Guard of Honour

In the background the faade of a grand house can be seen. Albert I is standing in front of the house surrounded by officers. He is talking to another group of officers. On the far left the first row of troops c... more

King in a gun pit

King George V inspecting a gun emplacement, Western Front, during World War I. HRH King George V of Britain (1865-1936) inspecting a gun emplacement. To the extreme right, two officers are visible, the nearer o... more

King George V and Allied commanders, France, during World War I

This photograph is a group shot of a number of Allied officers with King George V of Britain (1865-1936) who is standing third from right in the front row. George V, who reigned from 1910 to1936, visited the Fr... more

King and the President of France

State occasion between France and Great Britain, during World War I. This shot has no attributed photographer. Despite the seriousness and etiquette required of this ceremonial situation, both men appear rather... more

King and Queen embarking on board the boat for home

Queen Mary and King George V boarding a boat. They are walking up the gangplank. A group of army officials are standing on the quayside watching their departure. According to the photograph's original caption t... more

King and Queen of Belgium and their children watching the presentation of decorations

The King and Queen of Belgium at a ceremony, France, during World War I. This image shows Albert I, King of Belgium and Elizabeth, Queen of Belgium. According to the photograph's original caption they are watch... more

Kindness to animals

A sergeant, wrapped in his greatcoat against the cold, reading a notice nailed to a tree. The notice reads, 'Kindness to animals, 500 horses lamed weekly by nails dropped on roads and horse lines by cookers car... more

Keeping the guns well supplied

Team of horses being driven through a sea of mud. The legs of the horses at the front of the team are almost completely submerged in the quagmire. They are pulling a cart filled with ammunition. In the distance... more

Keeping warm while waiting for lunch

Soldiers keeping warm, Western Front, during World War I. This photograph shows five soldiers sitting around a camp fire built up with bricks. They are wearing 1916 winter-issue sleeveless leather jerkins over ... more

Keen American & British interest in the progress of the war

American and British soldiers gathered around, looking at a newspaper. The title of the newspaper is not completely clear but is the 'Daily M---'. Both the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror were in print during World... more

Judging a police turnout

Horse show behind the Front Line during World War I. A sturdy hunter-type horse stands facing to the left. His rider is in full military attire and sits tall and proud on his horse. The judge stands at the back... more

Judging the Officers' chargers

Judging three horses at a horse show. The horses are standing in a group in the middle of the photograph all facing to the right. The men sitting on them are wearing pristine uniforms, flat hats and armbands wi... more

Jocks having a well-earned rest after a heavy spell of stretcher bearing

Two Scottish soldiers having rest. Both men are wearing kilts with protective aprons, and steel helmets. According to the original caption they are stretcher-bearers, which would explain the armbands both men a... more

Jumping - N.C.O.'s and men class

This photograph shows a jumping competition being watched by officers and men of the New Zealand forces. In the foreground a New Zealander is jumping a straight bar fence with wings. The armband on his right ar... more

Judges comparing notes

Three judges compare notes at a horse show behind the Front Line, during World War I. A full-body shot of three men, the two on the right are examining a piece of paper intently. The man on the left looks into ... more

King of Belgium inspects a Belgian heavy battery

Two rows of men are lined up across train tracks while the officers and King Albert (1875-1934) march up and down in front. Behind the soldiers are containers on carriages and a gun on a carriage. ..Albert I re... more

January 28, 1928

Haig's last public engagement, 28 January 1928. Field Marshal (Earl) Haig greeting some of the Wolf Cubs and Boy Scouts at his local Richmond Scout Group. Lady Haig, another woman and a man, probably a disabled... more

Jocks at the window of their billets

Three soldiers in tammies are squeezed into a window embrasure to pose for the camera. They look quite chirpy and relaxed. Their uniforms appear to be fresh and clean unlike their surroundings. The building is ... more

Jollity Theatre

Turnip Tops' performing a dance, France, during World War I. These cross-dressed soldiers seem to be quite happy and relaxed in their role as performers and entertainers. Soldiers were mainly responsible for th... more

It just missed us

Shell hole, Western Front. Soldiers laughing as they peer through a shell hole in a brick wall. Their cheerful faces and the lighthearted caption are at odds with the truth that the constant shelling was one of... more

Iron rations

British soldiers watching shelling in the distance. A spread out group of soldiers wearing rain ponchos and helmets are looking off into the distance. The soldier at the front of the group is pointing into the ... more

It is too young to become a member of the army Horse Transport

Two weeks old colt born in the British lines in France, outside the ward of a Vet Hospital, where its mother is receiving treatment. In the foreground, a man is holding a young foal. Behind it there is an open ... more

Irish troops march past the Duke of Connaught and General Sir Herbert Plumer

Irish troops march along a dusty tree-lined road. Some of the troops are playing the bagpipes. Onlookers watch from the side of the road. In the distance are a number of vehicles and a man on a grey horse. The ... more

Irish troops from North and South were present at the ceremony

Irish soldiers huddle round the grave of Major Redmond. The grave is covered with wreaths and flowers, and is sheltered by a large hedge. The soldiers look clean and well presented for this visit to the gravesi... more

Interned shortly before marching off

Released internees, Germany, probably 1918. Male civilians well-wrapped in coats and hats, standing in front of a large building. The caption identifies these men as internees, so it is probable that this could... more

Issue of soap and cigarettes

On the ground in the middle of the picture are two separate stacks of boxes. Grouped around these are Manipur soldiers. One is sitting on a box looking into the camera. Beside him are two men squatting down div... more

Interior of Cathedral, Arras

Destruction at Arras Cathedral, France. The photograph is taken looking down the central aisle of the church. The interior looks fairly intact but the floor is hidden by mounds of rubble mostly from the collaps... more

Interior of Arras Cathedral

This image is dominated by the still standing aisle columns [of Arras Cathedral]. Part of the roof and upper storey is visible but not much else due to the angle of the photograph. A lot of the liming is chippe... more

Instructing men on how to avoid injuring horses feet

A lecture at a depot in France. A more tranquil and regimented view of the war experience is presented to the viewer here. ..This sort of image would have made ideal propaganda material, with its implications o... more

Interior of a ward on a British Ambulance Train in France

Interior of an ambulance-train ward, France, during World War I. This image is very striking due to the lighting and the tunnel effect of the train carriage, which is emphasised by the parallel lines of the woo... more

Inspection of a Canadian Battalion

Inspecting the Canadian troops. Four rows of troops are lined up across an icy road. They are presenting arms to the camera. The officers in front are standing on the snowy verge and have also turned around to ... more

Inspection of the Guards by H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught

The Duke of Connaught waiting to inspect troops as they march past. The long line of troops is being led by a small band of pipers and drummers. The Duke of Connaught is sitting on his horse at the side of the ... more

Interior of Arras Cathedral wrecked by Boche shell fire

This photograph, probably taken by John Warwick Brooke, shows the shell-damaged interior of a roofless Arras Cathedral. Located close to the River Somme, Arras was caught up in some of the heaviest fighting on ... more

Inspection of a Canadian Battalion with their gas helmets on

Inspecting gas masks. A line of uniformed men is standing across the image. They are all wearing gas masks . A group of officers are filing past and checking everyone and their equipment. ..Gas releasing weapon... more

Inspection of a Canadian Battalion

Canadian troops being inspected. Each man has his pack of emergency rations laid out on the ground in front of him. The emergency rations included hard biscuits and a tin of corned beef. These were intended to ... more

Inspecting the work of the Canadian Forestry Detachment

Canadian Forest Corps unloading timber, France, during World War I. The photographer recorded an official visit by Canadian journalists to see the work of the Canadian Forestry Corps. The Corps consisted of lum... more

Inspecting the horse transport of a Canadian Battalion

Inspection of Canadian military horses during World War I. A line of horses cuts diagonally across the image. They are being held steady by uniformed soldiers hidden behind the horses. Some of them are mounted... more

Inhabitants of a newly captured village gather round a British motor car to receive food

Villagers gathering round a British car to receive food. The crowd consists mostly of women and children, although there are one or two older men. The road they are standing on is muddy and uneven. There is a l... more

Interior of Arras Cathedral

Minus its roof and showing its shell-damaged pillars, this image shows the damage to the cathedral at Arras, which was originally constructed between 1030 and 1396. Located near the River Somme, Arras was right... more

Inspecting a Battalion of King's Royal Rifles

The Duke of Connaught inspecting troops, France, during World War I. HRH Arthur the Duke of Connaught (1850-1942) is walking along a line of troops during an inspection. Other senior officers walk on his right.... more

Inhabitant of Nesle talking to our Tommies

Refugee, Nesle, France, during World War I. A meeting between a group of British soldiers and a French refugee. They appear to be talking and laughing despite the fact that the woman and a young girl, possibly ... more

Infantrymen on the move in formation to the attack

This image may appear to be quite odd, but this merely underlines the alien surroundings which most World War I soldiers reported when they returned home. This image conveys some of the chaos and disarray which... more

Inhabitants of a newly captured village are greatly interested in a British machine gunne

Village inhabitants, Western Front, during World War I. An Allied machine-gunner standing in a village talking to an old man and surrounded by other village inhabitants. Not surprisingly the crowd is composed o... more

Infantry waiting to attack during World War I

Infantry are crouched in line in a very narrow trench. Their tension is clear in the taut outline of their bodies and in the face of the one young soldier who is looking back towards the camera. The trench is q... more

Infantry waiting for the order to move up

This line of poncho-clad and helmeted soldiers, snaking its way through the devastation, is illustrative of wartime life in France. Conditions became more haphazard and devastated as the years went on, but life... more

Infantry passing one of the new armoured cars on their way to the front line

A tank pulling some sort of carriage, followed by a group of infantrymen. The strange, triangular-shaped canopy of netting on top of the tank is probably for camouflaging purposes...The soldiers in this photogr... more

Infantry marching in the snow

A line of infantry are silhouetted blackly against the snow, marching from left to right across the view. Their footprints have formed a grey trodden path. The snow masks the mud but not the desolation as tree ... more

Infantry getting out of their trenches as their wave moves forward

This image conveys a lot of the quintessential features of the war experience. These shallow trenches did not afford much cover from enemy fire, but they were more practical for launching attacks. There were mu... more

In the few spare moments when not pounding the Boche our gunners settle down to a game of cards

Three gunners playing a game of cards. They are using a wooden crate as a table, and are sitting outside a dugout or hideout constructed from sandbags. All three are smoking pipes or cigarettes. There is a bott... more

In train during War

Haig and Sir Philip Sassoon, Western Front, during World War I. Field Marshal (Earl) Haig (1861-1928) and Sir Philip Sassoon (1888-1939) in Haig's office on a train, probably in France. It appears to have been ... more

Indian Cavalry

Indian cavalry, Western Front, during World War I. This is one of a number of photographs showing the Indian cavalry who fought with the Allies. In the autumn of 1914, the urgent need for trained soldiers led t... more

Incident in a big football match near the line between British and French Tommies

Football match between British and French soldiers, in France, during World War I. With a large group of French troops watching from the touchline, this image captures an exciting moment in a football match bet... more

Indian Cavalry on the move

Members of the Indian Cavalry make their way up a hillside, passed two soldiers travelling on foot. The cavalrymen are distinguishable by the turbans they are wearing, in place of helmets, and the spears they a... more

In front of the main guard in Unter den Linden

Unter den Linden, Berlin, Germany, 1918. Part of Unter den Linden, a large main street in Berlin which held many of the important palaces and buildings of early twentieth-century Berlin. The crowds in this pho... more

In the Bakery - putting sacks of flour on the elevator

Two soldiers moving flour bags. Two soldiers are straining under the weight of large sacks of flour, which they are carrying on their backs. Their uniforms have become completely white due to the work they are ... more

In Pronville the Germans erected the elaborate ferro-concrete trap seen in the picture

Canadian officers beside German fortifications at Pronville, France, during World War I. Canadian officers demonstrate how their lorry was just wide enough to breach the gap in the German fortifications at Pron... more

In Bethune showing a shell hole

With branchless trees framing this photograph and debris scattered all over the ground, these two British soldiers look into a bomb crater in a street in the shell-damaged town of Bethune. Behind the soldiers, ... more

In difficulties on the railroad

Railway wagons stuck in ice, Western Front, during World War I. This photograph is one of a number which illustrate the very practical difficulties of winter warfare. In this instance, railway wagons appear to ... more

Improvised bridge across the Ancre

Soldiers crossing the River Ancre, France, during World War I. This photograph depicts four British soldiers using a fallen tree-trunk as a temporary bridge over the River Ancre. They do not appear to be in a d... more

Immense R.A.F. machine ready to start with its load of bombs for Germany

R.A.F. planes being loaded with munitions, France, during World War I. The people involved in this scene are all engrossed in their activities and as a result unaware of the camera. The size and power of these ... more

In a new trench

Taken from above, this image shows a group of soldiers walking along a narrow trench in single file. All of the men are wearing steel helmets and carrying rifles with bayonets. The walls of the trench are high,... more

In Beaumont Hamel

A German graveyard at Beaumont-Hamel, France, with makeshift wooden crosses marking the graves. (The caption for a similar photograph of the same graveyard informs us that this monument was erected for those Ge... more

If you know of a better 'ole, go to it

The photograph comprises a grass field which has been flattened down around the front of the composition. There are two bodiless soldiers with their torsos emerging from a circle in the grass. They are back-to-... more

Idea of the strength of the German barbed wire at Beaucourt

Front line trenches on both sides of the Western Front were guarded by belts of barbed wire. The dilemma facing the attacking soldiers was how to cut through such barbed wire defences while under heavy machine-... more

Immense R.A.F. machine being tuned up before starting off for Germany with a load of bomb

R.A.F. bomber being tuned, France, during World War I. The size of these machines is conveyed by the perspective in the photograph. The men working on the body of the machine are dwarfed and the wing sweeping a... more

Ice broken up by shell fire

Two officers can be seen looking at slabs of ice which appear to be at least four to six inches (ten to twelve centimetres) thick. According to the original caption, the ice, which seems to have formed over a ... more

Hut constructed solely of old boxes by the women carpenters in France

A large wooden hut built by female carpenters attached to Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. According to the photograph's original caption, the hut has been built entirely from discarded boxes. A wooden walkwa... more

Huge stack of provisions being loaded into trains

Loading food supplies on a train, Western Front, during World War I. This photograph shows men loading crates of food into a train. One man is standing on a huge stack of crates, sliding boxes down a makeshift ... more

Huge gun captured by us at Moislaine and which the Germans had overturned in their hurry to get it back over rough ground

A large gun lying on its side amongst bushes. It looks somewhat weathered. There is a large container, possibly filled with ammunition, lying underneath the gun. In the distance it is possible to see the rough ... more

Hun humour

Political graffiti, Western Front, during World War I. The wall of a ruined building, which is covered in graffiti. To the left it reads, ' ..ier gehts fur Kaiser und Reich' which could be translated as 'For ... more

I would like to borrow your coat old chap

Two soldiers, one wearing a huge fur jacket, during World War I. This ray of humour and friendship in an otherwise bleak and depressing landscape is unfortunately unatrributable to any one war photographer. The... more

Huge bell in a German support trench

Church bell in a German trench, Messines Ridge, Belgium, 1917. The image is dominated by and intricately carved and inscribed church bell. The bell is lying in the bottom of a muddy trench. The trench is a scen... more

H.R.R. [sic] the Duke of Connaught

A uniformed His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught, sitting on his horse, at the Front in France, during World War I. He has one hand resting reassuringly on the neck of his horse. The Duke and his horse ar... more

Huge German raider brought down in France

Wrecked German aircraft, France, during World War I. This image would have made ideal propaganda material. Official war photographers were allocated to the Western Front by the propaganda office, with a remit t... more

I'll guess it's hot carrying that lot

Two soldiers stand face-to-face with each other. They are standing on a path at the edge of a formal garden. In the background more paths and wooden buildings are visible. The soldier on the right is informally... more

H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught arriving at a school of Instruction in France

A vintage car is travelling along a dirt track road with pleasant scenery in the background. The car is being driven by a chauffeur and the Duke is visible in the back seat...Royal visits were seen as conveying... more

Htel de Ville, Arras

Bombed out town hall, Arras, France, during World War I. This image shows what is left of the town hall in Arras. The damage we can see has been caused by bombing or shelling. It is still possible to see much o... more

H.R.H. the Prince of Wales with General Currie and the Canadian divisional general whose men captured Denain, standing outside the Church of that town

Edward Prince of Wales and General Sir Arthur Currie, Denain, France, 1918. In this photograph, His Royal Highness, Edward Prince of Wales (1894-1972), later to become Edward VIII, is standing between General ... more