Gunners rolling up shells for a move forward | National Library of Scotland

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Gunners rolling 6″ Howitzer shells to gun positions. Most of the men are in their shirtsleeves and wearing steel helmets. The shells have been placed on an open-ended trolley, which is being pushed along a light railway track. In the background there is an expanse of flat and open countryside. The men are aware of the photographer, most likely John Warwick Brooke, and are smiling for the camera.

Throughout World War I railways were a vital means of transporting troops, supplies and equipment for both sides. Whilst existing railway systems were used, vast tracts of light railway were hastily constructed to ensure the existence of a vital communications link with the front line.

The Battle of Broodseinde commenced on 4th October 1917.

Original reads: ‘OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN ON THE BRITISH WESTERN FRONT. BATTLE OF BROODSEYNDE [Broodseinde]. Gunners [rolling?] up shells for a move forward.’

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Cite : Gunners rolling up shells for a move forward | National Library of Scotland ( by J.W. Brooke licensed as CC-BY-NC-SA (

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About Richard Marshall

Richard Marshall is studying for a doctorate in the literature of ancient Rome at Wadham College, Oxford, and is a tutor for Ancient History at St Benet’s Hall. In addition to Classics, he has a long-standing interest in the tactics and material culture of the British Army, especially of the period spanned by the Cardwell Reforms and First World War. He has a large collection of original uniform and equipment items used for teaching and research purposes, and is currently exploring the evolution of British military clothing and accoutrements in response to changes in fashion and warfare for eventual publication. He previously worked as a cataloguer for the Oxford University Great War Archive.
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