Faces of the First World War

Faces of the First World War – IWM Centenary project launched on Flickr

On Armistice Day 11.11.11, IWM made 100 previously unseen portraits of those who served in the First World War publicly available for the first time on Flickr Commons.

IWM will continue to upload photographs to Flickr Commons every weekday until August 2014, the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.

The photos were collected by IWM between 1917 and 1920. All of them tell a story. Those shown in them fought – and often died – for Britain and the Commonwealth during the First World War.

Get involved

The full story is not always known. We need your help to fill in the blanks.

Use any means you can – online newspapers, museums, libraries and archives – to build up more of a picture about those in the photographs. Add what you find out to the Flickr site and help to remember the people behind the faces, a century on from the war they fought in.

Here is an example of the sort of extra information that can be uncovered. The attestation paper for Private Archibald Thornton has been digitised by Library and Archives Canada and is available to view online. Click here to view his photo and the enlistment form bearing his signature.

How to use Flickr

Anyone can view the images in the Faces of the First World War set.

To leave comments, links and information about specific people, you will need to sign in to Flickr – accounts are free.

Photos on Flickr have tags. These make it easier to find and share images. The photos in the Faces of the First World War set have been tagged with as many useful pieces of information as are available, such as the person’s regiment and home town.

If you come across relevant new information, tag the photos with what you find.

If you discover something online about one of the people featured in the Faces of the First World War set, you can add an image of what you’ve found to your comment. This might be a report about them in a newspaper; a copy of their birth certificate or a photo of their battalion or the ship they served in.

Tips for research

Some useful online sites for researching First World War veterans:

The London Gazette archive – published military appointments, promotions, awards and notices

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission – has records of 1.75 million war dead

The UK National Archives – holds records of British Army unit war diaries

The National Archives of Australia holds service records for Australian service personnel

The UK National Inventory of War Memorials – searchable database of all UK war memorials

Discovering Anzacs – details of all Anzac (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) enlistees

Soldiers of the First World War, CEF – register of Canadian Expeditionary Force including digitized attestation papers

Archives New Zealand – holds various First World War records including personnel files, casualty lists and details of decorations and awards.

Go to Faces of the First World War on Flickr now.