PORTRAITS

1. Elfriede Kuhr—German schoolgirl, twelve

2. Sarah Macnaughtan—Scottish aid worker, forty-nine

3. Richard Stumpf—German High Seas Fleet seaman, twenty-two

4. Pál Kelemen—Hungarian cavalryman in the Austro-Hungarian army, twenty

5. Andrei Lobanov-Rostovsky—Russian army engineer, twenty-two

6. Florence Farmborough—English nurse in the Russian army, twenty-seven

7. Kresten Andresen (left)—Danish soldier in the German army, twenty-three

8. Michel Corday—French civil servant, forty-five

9. Alfred Pollard—British army infantryman, twenty-one

10. William Henry Dawkins—Australian army engineer, twenty-one

11. René Arnaud—French army infantryman, twenty-one

12. Rafael de Nogales—Venezuelan cavalryman in the Ottoman army, thirty-five

13. Harvey Cushing—American army field surgeon, forty-five

14. Angus Buchanan—British army infantryman, twenty-seven

15. Olive King—Australian driver in the Serbian army, twenty-eight

16. Willy Coppens—Belgian air force fighter pilot, twenty-two

17. Vincenzo D’Aquila—Italian-American infantryman in the Italian army, twenty-one

18. Edward Mousley—New Zealand artilleryman in the British army, twenty-eight

19. Paolo Monelli—trooper in an Alpine regiment of the Italian army, twenty-three

20. Laura de Turczynowicz—American wife of a Polish aristocrat, thirty-five

THE WESTERN FRONT

1. SMS Helgoland, Richard Stumpf’s ship: “Reveille is blown as early as four o’clock this autumn morning. The ship and its crew wake to a morning of frantic activity.”

2. A column of Belgian infantrymen on the beach at De Panne, 17 October 1916: “[Coppens] now finds himself in the strip of trench-scarred Belgian ground, stretching from Nieuwpoort on the Channel coast down to Ypres and Messines on the French border.”

3. Sanctuary Wood, October 1914: “The Germans have detonated a large mine under the British lines in a wood the British call Sanctuary Wood at Zillebeke outside Ypres, and then they occupied the enormous, corpse-filled crater it made.”

4. View of Kiel, with the naval base in the background, 1914: “It is evening when they arrive in Kiel. [Stumpf] notes that they have begun to ease up a little on the blackout that used to be so strictly enforced.”

5. A street in Lens: “The projectiles come whistling down here and there. An unusually big one hits a house a small distance in front of [Andresen] and he sees how the greater part of the roof is lifted thirty feet or more up in the air.”

6. Fort Douaumont at Verdun under heavy bombardment, 1 April 1916: “[Arnaud] sinks down with his head between his knees. ‘I was on the battlefield at Verdun but was hardly conscious of the fact.’ ”

7. British water carriers at Zonnebeke, August 1917: “On the road up towards Zonnebeke Canadian troops, caked in mud, jostle with lorries, cannon and mules laden with ammunition.”

8. Beach scene in Boulogne-sur-Mer, May 1918: “In the afternoon Cushing is back at the large seaside villa where he is living. The warm spring air streams in through the open window. He looks out over the English Channel.”

9. A blown-up bridge at Villers-Cotterêts, September 1914: “When [Arnaud] arrives at his destination today he hears that his regiment is still there, at Villers-Cotterêts. He hitches a lift in a butcher’s van for the last section.”

10. Péronne, end of March 1918: “[Pollard] is now on the train to Péronne, where he hopes to be met by someone from the battalion. He is so cold that he is shaking and he is still being plagued by unpleasant fever dreams.”

11. Sailors gathering ready to demonstrate in Wilhelmshaven, beginning of November 1918: “[Stumpf] dresses in parade uniform in honour of the day. Then he and the rest of the crew go off to demonstrate. The attitude of the officers suggests that the sailors might well end up being victorious.”

EAST AFRICA

1. The war reaches Africa, 1914: “Roughly 10,000 armed men are looking for each other in an area the size of western Europe but where communications are almost non-existent. The most difficult task is not to defeat the enemy, it is to find him. Any sort of movement demands an army of bearers.”

2. German native troops in combat somewhere in East Africa: “Those in command of the small groups are Germans, clad in all the usual accoutrements of the colonists—light-coloured uniforms, cork tropical helmets and commanding appearance—but the soldiers are all professional native soldiers, askaris, who have been given the same training, weapons and trust as white soldiers.”

3. The Pangani River in German East Africa: “The German forces they are chasing through bush, jungle and swamp, across rivers, mountains and savannahs, are apparently untroubled by the climate and disease, which is hardly surprising given that their troops are native and consequently used to the former and stoical about the latter.”

4. British native troops of the King’s African Rifles on parade in Lindi, September 1916: “Battalions of black troops from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and the West Indies were left to hold the fort in the pouring rain.”

5. The wreck of SMS Königsberg in the Rufiji delta, summer 1915: “[Buchanan] can also see puffs of smoke from the enemy artillery—105mm pieces that the Germans, with their usual talent for improvisation, have salvaged from the light cruiser SMS Königsberg after it was knocked out by the British.”

6. A black machine-gun crew under German command somewhere in East Africa: “After retreating from the valley at Mohambika the Germans dug in firmly on the Tandamunti ridge. The two sides have been taking it in turns to attack and counter-attack ever since the middle of June.”

THE EASTERN FRONT

1. The mobilising Russian army gathers horses in St. Petersburg, 31 July 1914: “The war is about the Russians, isn’t it? Everyone knows that. The German army is mobilising in response to the Russian mobilisation and everyone knows that the Russians are going to attack soon.”

2. Russian prisoners-of-war on the Uszoker Pass in the Carpathians, spring 1915: “The thrusts backwards and forwards in the various passes in the Carpathian Mountains have continued with wearisome predictability and an equally wearisome absence of any real result.”

3. The transport of Russian prisoners captured during the battles of May and June 1915: “Finally, the order for immediate withdrawal, leaving the equipment and the wounded. They are to leave the wounded? Yes, leave the wounded. ‘Skoro! Skoro! … The Germans are outside the town!’ ”

4. Austrian cavalry crossing the Vistula at Praga in Warsaw, 5 or 6 August 1915: “We were told by the Staff that the enemy had crossed the Vistula in several places but so far was not molesting our forces except for small cavalry patrols which had appeared nearby.”

5. German troops in Minsk, 1915: “The city came as a revelation to her, not least because it sparkled with colours like pinks and whites, colours she and her companions have almost forgotten after months of existing with the many shades of brown of the earth, of the road and of uniforms.”

6. View of Elfriede Kuhr’s Schneidemühl, 1917: “Once again Elfriede goes to the railway station. She is going to visit Dora Haensch, her best friend, whose parents run a small restaurant in the station building.”

7. Red Square, Moscow, October 1917: “It is less than two months since she was last in Moscow but the city has changed enormously. The darkened streets are patrolled by all-powerful and trigger-happy soldiers wearing red armbands.”

8. A trainload of homeward-bound Austro-Hungarian troops has stopped in Budapest, November 1918: “Gradually the housing outside the sooty carriages begins to get denser as they enter the suburbs of Budapest. At about twelve at night the train stops very briefly at a small station in Rákos.”

THE ITALIAN FRONT

1. An Austro-Hungarian supply column near Santa Lucia, October 1917: “The trench itself is right in the forward line, looking towards the cone-shape of Monte Santa Lucia on the Isonzo.… There is a deep and steep-sided valley separating the Italian lines from the Austrian.”

2. Italian Alpini in their element, 1915: “Thanks to his mountaineering experience, [Monelli] succeeded in being selected for the Alpini, the elite mountain infantry. He joined up in June, in Belluno.”

3. Austro-Hungarian mountain troops working their way forward in the Alps, 1915: “A chill blast, my heart becomes agitated. The first shot of the war: a warning that means that the machinery has been set in motion and is inexorably dragging you with it. Now you’re in, and you’ll never get out.”

4. Cima Undici, 1916: “The Alpini battalion Paolo Monelli belongs to has been on Monte Cima for some days and they have occasionally come under artillery fire. But what is happening?”

5. Monte Cauriol, 1916: “By this point they have been on many dreadful mountains, but this one promises to be the worst of the lot. They stormed and took Monte Cauriol about a month ago—a feat in itself.”

6. An Austro-Hungarian military hospital on Monte Ortigara, 1915: “For about a fortnight they have watched battalion after battalion dispatched towards the top of Monte Ortigara and each time they have also watched the result: first to come are the stretcher-bearers with the wounded and the mules with the dead, then—after a few hours or a few days—what remains of the battalion trudges past.”

7. Italian prisoners-of-war and some of the victorious German troops in Udine, October 1917: “Neither newspapers nor communiqués are reaching them and they exist up here in the clouds of unknowing, fed on nothing but rumours, which are—as usual—confusing, contradictory and full of fantasy. Such as that the Germans have taken Udine. Such as that 200,000 Italians surrendered as prisoners.”

THE BALKANS AND DARDANELLES

1. Supplies, the wounded, and swimmers at Anzac Cove, 1915: “Dawkins and the others, however, landed at the wrong place, well over half a mile north of the intended spot. In one sense that was fortunate since the Ottoman defence was unusually weak at that point, the terrain being so rugged that the defenders judged it highly unlikely the Allies would even try to land there.”

2. V Beach on the southern tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula, 1915: “There are actually only two points at which the Allies have succeeded in creating real bridgeheads: one of them is right down at the southern point of the peninsula and the other is here at Gaba Tepe, on the western side of Gallipoli.”

3. An Austro-Hungarian supply column in Serbia, October–November 1915: “The invasion of Serbia by the Central Powers is going completely to plan. Public opinion at home thinks that it is about time too: in 1914 the Austro-Hungarian army had gone on the offensive against their Serbian neighbour on three occasions and three times it had been driven back.”

4. Captured Serbian troops on their way to surrender their weapons in Montenegro, February 1916: “The defeated Serbian forces are now retreating to avoid the threat of encirclement and huge numbers of civilians are accompanying them on their uncertain flight south.”

5. A German aeroplane takes off for combat, watched by members of the local population in Macedonia, 1915: “What real fighting there is is going on up in Macedonia, nicknamed Muckedonia by the British troops because of the mud and dirt there.”

6. A British army camp outside Salonica, April 1916: “Sarrail’s Army of the Orient is still in Salonica, in lofty defiance both of Greek neutrality and of the fact that there seems to be little or no point to the whole business any longer.”

7. Salonica immediately after the Great Fire, August 1917: “The years of Western occupation with its accompanying flood of troops from virtually all corners of the world has served only to reinforce the glaring contrasts and the cosmopolitan spirit of the city.”

MIDDLE EAST

1. Fortifications at Erzurum, 1916: “Now and then the distant thunder of Russian artillery can be heard. The hollow rumble rolls through the enclosing mountainsides and the explosions sometimes set off avalanches on Mount Ararat.”

2. View over Kut: “The British corps has halted its southward retreat at the small town of Kut al-Amara and here they are going to wait to be reinforced or, to be more accurate, to be relieved since they are now surrounded by four Ottoman divisions.”

3. Heavily laden British riverboats on the Tigris, 1916: “Both sides keep small flotillas of heavily armed boats on the Tigris, mainly to protect their own supply chain since the river … is a living artery for both armies.”

4. Jerusalem has capitulated and welcomes the victors, 1 December 1917: “Gaza fell in November … followed by Jerusalem in December—the former a great blow militarily, the latter a political and prestige catastrophe.”

5. The ruins of Gaza after the fall of the city, November 1917: “The silence of death ruled everywhere. In the middle of the streets, piled up among soot-blackened rafters and smashed carriages, lay hundreds of bodies, the burnt and shattered remains of people and animals.”

6. Under fire on the Palestine front: “It is hardly a month since the First Battle of Gaza, a confused affair with heavy losses. Both sides initially thought they had lost the battle, but it finally ended in an Ottoman victory since the British, partly because of a shortage of water, withdrew from the ground they had gained.”

7. View of Bursa: “It was in Bursa that the top British generals were being held prisoner and for a while Mousley was able to share their privileges in such matters as good and plentiful food, relatively recent newspapers and considerable freedom of movement.”

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