Somme selfies: a haunting reminder of a tragedy that should never be repeated
The horror of the battle of the Somme, which began 100 years ago today, can be read in the haunted eyes of this unidentified British soldier. On the first day of the battle, more than 20,000 British and empire soldiers were killed – many of them in the first few minutes. By the time the battle ended in a stalemate in November, 125,000 British and empire soldiers had died. Each metre of territory gained cost, on average, the lives of 11 British, Irish, Australian, New Zealand, Canadian or South African soldiers. On each day for the last month up to today’s centenary, we have published a “Selfie from the Somme” – an image chosen from a collection of more than 700 long-lost photographs brought to light by The Independent in recent years. The images were taken in late 1915 and in 1916 for a few francs by a local photographer, Alfred Depire, for British soldiers to send home as postcards to their loved ones. The images have generated enormous interest from all over the world since we started publishing them in 2009. Only a handful of the soldiers have been identified.