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World War One through a lens
Some of the most haunting official photographs of the First World War were taken by a Peabody resident, William Rider-Rider.
Before the war William Rider-Rider was a photographic journalist living in Westminster and working for the Daily Mirror.
He enlisted in the Suffolk Regiment in June 1916, by which time he had moved to the Wild Street estate with his wife and their young son.
Because he wore glasses he was not sent to fight but instead became an Army gymnasium instructor. However, the Canadian military forces made an official request for him to be transferred so that he could work for them and take battlefield photographs, replacing a man who had also worked for the Daily Mirror.
He was given the honorary rank of lieutenant and had a knack of positioning himself at the centre of the action. He took 2,800 photos and was awarded the MBE for his services to war photography.
His images show the full horror of the conditions in the trenches on the Western Front, and are still used today to illustrate books and television programmes.
Many of his most striking pictures were taken at the Battle of Passchendaele in October and November 1917, where heavy rainfall meant the mud was at its worst.
Troops of the Canadian 16th Machine Gun Company crouched in shell-holes – only one man in this photograph survived
After the war, William Rider-Rider’s large collection of official Canadian war photographs was transferred to Canada. He returned to his life on Fleet Street, and worked as chief picture editor and later night news editor on the Daily Mirror. He retired in 1948 and died in 1979.
A line of Canadian troops receiving drinks
Canadian troops taking cover in a ditch near Arras in September 1918
A group of Canadian troops at a soup kitchen
Aftermath of the Battle of Cambrai, 1917
Captured German mortars
We commerate World War One here and look at its impact on our residents and communities.
Our records show that by 1916 there were 2,637 Peabody residents serving with the armed forces. We believe 350–400 died on active service.