Hunt to track down families of British Tommies

Do you see one of your relatives here? Hunt to track down families of British Tommies pictured shaving, smoking and even stroking a rabbit in unseen photos scavenged by a German soldier from WWI trenches

  • They were collected by Walther Hader whose hobby was to pick up photos he found left behind in trenches
  • Historian Rob Schaefer now has the pictures and is trying to identify the ‘lost faces’ so he can tell their stories
  • He said they are very poignant as many of the men who feature in them would have been killed in combat 

A historian is on the hunt to track down the families of British Tommies pictured on the frontline shaving, smoking and even stroking a rabbit in previously unseen images from World War One.

The remarkable snaps were collected by German Walther Hader whose unusual hobby was to pick up photos he found left behind in seized trenches and abandoned buildings.

German historian Rob Schaefer has recently come into possession of the black and white images and is trying to identify the ‘lost faces’ so he can tell their stories.

He said they are very poignant as in many cases the men who feature in them would have been killed in combat in World War One.

Portrait of the Sherwood Foresters from Notts & Derby. The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) was a line infantry regiment of the British Army in existence for just under 90 years

A group of Scottish soldiers pose with a sign which says ‘Dundee lads, somewhere in France’

Seaforth Highlanders on a cigarette break. The remarkable never before seen photos of British Tommies on the frontline have come to light over 100 years later

A member of the Scottish Rifles poses ‘Somewhere in France’ with a white rabbit. The photos were collected by German infantryman Walther Hader who fought against them on the Western Front in World War One

Tommies pose together in the remarkable never before seen photos of British Tommies on the frontline have come to light over 100 years later

A French soldier can be seen clenching a bayonet. German historian Rob Schaefer, who has come into possession of the photos, is trying to identify the ‘lost faces’ so he can tell their stories

German infantryman Walther Hader collected the pictures. His unusual hobby was to pick up images of his adversaries he found in shell craters, seized trenches and abandoned buildings

One photo is of a group of Scottish soldiers who posed for the camera with a sign stating ‘Dundee lads, somewhere in France’. They are wearing fur winter coats to guard against the cold.

Others images depict two members of the Seaforth Highlanders on a cigarette break and two other Tommies shaving.

There is also a photo of a lone soldier stroking a white rabbit.

Hader found a cache of photos in a trench near Longueval showing 2nd Lieutenant Keith Lines.

The Australian serviceman fought at the Battle of Passchendaele and was wounded at Cambrai in March 1918 and returned to his home country.

There is an image of a group of Canadian Gunners and an Allied artilleryman is depicted donning a German spiked helmet as a prop in another.

A couple of Tommies at their tent. Hader found a cache of photos in a trench near Longueval showing 2nd Lieutenant Keith Lines

Hader found a cache of photos in a fox hole near Longueval showing 2nd Lieutenant Keith Lines (pictured right in Belgium) of the 70th Siege Battery

A French Infantryman – Many of the photos were taken in the garden of a house of a French photographer in Albert, on the Somme, in late 1915 and early 1916

Band of Brothers Gunners pose together. Walther Hader was called up aged 19 in August 1917 and took part in the 1918 German spring offensive before his capture in May

B Tommies pose for a pic with a sign ‘Glasgow’s own R.E., Somewhere in in France’

BNPS.co.uk (01202 558833) Pic: ZeitgeistToursLtd/BNPS A French Infantryman poses for the camera Remarkable never before seen photos of British Tommies on the frontline have come to light over 100 years later. They were collected by German infantryman Walther Hader who fought against them on the Western Front in World War One. His unusual hobby was to pick up images of his adversaries he found in shell craters, seized trenches and abandoned buildings. Hader was called up aged 19 in August 1917 and took part in the 1918 German spring offensive before his capture that May. He spent the rest of the conflict in Leigh POW camp in Greater Manchester before being repatriated in 1919. German historian Rob Schaefer, who has come into possession of the photos, is trying to identify the ‘lost faces’ so he can tell their stories.

Some of the photos were taken in the garden of a house of a French photographer in Albert, on the Somme, in late 1915 and early 1916.

It is likely that some of the men who feature perished in the bloodbath during the Battle of the Somme later that year.

Walther Hader was called up aged 19 in August 1917 and took part in the 1918 German spring offensive before his capture in May.

He spent the rest of the conflict in Leigh PoW camp in Greater Manchester before being repatriated to his homeland in 1919.

Mr Schaefer, who is editor of the Iron Cross magazine, said: ‘What makes Walther Hader special is that during his rather brief period of frontline service he saw some intense action and collected these photographs.

‘Wherever he could find them, in abandoned housing or on the battlefield in shell craters and trenches, he collected photos and sent them home. He also bought and traded with comrades.

‘It is so rare to find photos of British or Commonwealth service personnel taken at the front line.

‘They are outstanding images and also very poignant some of the men would have been killed in the war, so their families back home who they were intended for will never have seen them.’

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