Reader solves mystery of iconic World War One photograph

The iconic dugout photograph

Sylvia Nichol

First published in News
Last updated
The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

THE names of soldiers who appeared in one of the most iconic images from the First World War can be revealed publicly for the first time, thanks to a Gazette reader.

The official war photograph shows five men from the Border Regiment resting in trench dugouts during a lull in the Somme offensive.

Although the picture appeared on a poster and has been reproduced in various publications over the last 98 years, very little was known about its origins.

But after the picture was featured in the first of the Gazette’s four Great War supplements last month, a relative of one of the men came forward to confirm his identity.

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Sylvia Nichol, from Over Kellet, said the sergeant on the left was her grandfather Norman Park, who was born in Kendal.

She named the other men in the dugouts as, from left, L/Cpl Tattersall, Dan Daly and E Carradice.

The only person she had no name for was the soldier laid across the top of the dugouts who is cut off the postcard.

Mrs Nichol believed the photograph, apparently used as an official morale-booster, was taken at Ovillers on the Somme in July 1916.

An original postcard featuring the image, which came into her family’s possession decades later, revealed the photograph was not taken in the English lines but in a German trench captured by the Allies.

The picture’s official title on the postcard confirms this - ‘Tommy at home in German dugouts’.

“I sort of knew about the photo years ago before I ever saw a copy,” said Mrs Nichol, who remembered Norman as ‘a happy smiling granddad’.

“My dad told the tale of when he came home on leave in the Second World War from Belgium or Germany. He got off the train at Euston Station and looking out at him from a poster on the wall was his ‘old man’.”

Mrs Nichol’s sister Sue Streadwick, who emigrated to Canada, was also aware of the picture and for years has had a copy hanging in her home.

She said: “I was raised by my grandfather, so have memories of him as a stern father-figure, more than as a soldier.

“He was born in Kendal, the seventh and youngest son in a family of nine children. His father ran a building business and built the houses on Park Street and vicinity.

“He took part in the Battle of the Somme and suffered gas poisoning. He was sent home as an invalid, and often lamented that he had an 'easy way out' of the war.

“When World War Two came around, he joined the Territorial Army and held the rank of captain.”

Mrs Streadwick added that he had two children and worked at Ibis engineering as a purchaser. He drank at the Ring O’ Bells, loved cricket, grew vegetables, was a Mason and was “an active and caring grandfather.”

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