Waist-deep in mud, men dig and die in the trenches. At the sound of the whistle, they leap out of their makeshift shelters, screaming, to do battle. Machineguns crackle, bodies are stopped dead in their tracks, fragments of shrapnel fly, cries of pain resound. As far as the eye can see, the wounded and the dead are trapped in the same muck…
The harsh reality and sheer horror of the trenches obliterated all other visions of the 14-18 conflict. These images of industrial and mechanical warfare will remain forever embedded in western memories, through the popular icons created by Barbusse, Dorgelès and Abel Gance, reducing World War 1 to the marshes of the Somme and to the massacre of Verdun.
However, it is a little known fact that the press of the times reported on other events, less significant perhaps, more anecdotic and daily, but always spectacular to satisfy the expectations of its readership. Le Miroir, the “fully photo-illustrated weekly” since 1912, testified to the new reality of modern warfare: the internationalization of the conflict.
Extract Le Miroir, une revue photographique, François Cheval.