WW1 Photos Centenary Website: 2014-2018 By Paul Reed

Great War Portraits: Keeping Warm on the Western Front

The winter months on the Western Front, even for a tough generation like that of the Great War, could be a trying time. Temperatures on the Somme in 1916/17 dropped to below -20 and living in exposed muddy ditches in weather like this often caused more casualties than from enemy fire.

Private William Kelly Saunders is pictured here in France during the winter of 1915/16 wearing a lightweight rubberised waterproof cape to offer some protection against wet weather and some home-made ‘trench gloves’ fashioned from goat or sheep fleece to keep the cold off while working in the front line. Underneath he is wearing the standard uniform of his regiment, the London Scottish. While the fleece gloves may have been warm soldiers soon found they became breeding grounds for lice and often ended up throwing them away.

William Kelly Saunders was from Jarvis Brook in Sussex and was killed at Gommecourt on 1st July 1916 when his battalion took part in the First Day of the Somme.

2 responses

  1. Tom

    Hi Paul, reading the “Great War Portraits” each day, and amazed at some excellent photo’s that you have, I wondered if they wouldn’t make a nivce pictorial book at the end of the exercise mate.
    best regards

    14/02/2012 at 08:07

  2. Genevra Charsley

    Cracking picture, keep the hands warm, but forget the knees and the fact that he’s wearing a kilt!

    14/02/2012 at 09:06

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