New BBC Documentary On Recently Discovered Photographs of British Soldiers in World War One

Never Before Seen Photographs of World War One

The following photographs were taken by George Hackney, World World One British soldier from Belfast, Northern Ireland who served in the 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. He survived the war and died in 1977. Before his death he gave his collection of photographs to the Ulster Museum where they have remained unseen until several years ago.

Story by Greg McKevitt of the BBC


G. Hackney 1915


A photograph of George Hackney, taken at Poulainville, Picardy, Northern France, October 1915. Hackney was made a Lance Corporal the day before the Battalion left for France, along with his friend John Ewing. Before advancing to the Front, the men were billeted in a barn in the village of Poulainville.  (photo courtesy of the Ulster Museum and BBC)

From the BBC:  A startling collection of previously unseen photographs… featured in a new documentary provides a fresh perspective of life and death in the trenches during World War One.

Belfast man George Hackney was a keen amateur photographer… when he was sent off to fight in 1915, he took his camera with him….Unofficial photography was strictly illegal…his [photographs]  capture…. an almost unbearable sense of poignancy as many of these men never made it home.

The entire story is here:


G Hackney BBC English Channel 1915


Photograph taken by George Hackney in English Channel, 4 October 1915. The Battalion sailed from Southampton to Boulogne on the former Isle of Man paddle steamer Empress Queen. Some men are seen sleeping on the deck while others look overboard for the threat of German U-boats. (photo courtesy of the Ulster Museum and BBC)


1916 14th Battalion by G. Hackney


Photograph taken by George Hackney in July/August 1916 at Ploegsteert Wood near Messines in Belgium. This is where the 14th Battalion were redeployed after the devastation of the Battle of the Somme. (photo courtesy of the Ulster Museum and BBC)

Comments Charles McCain: “The Battle of the Somme began on 1 July 1916 and lasted for almost five months.  On the horrific first day of the battle, 20,000 British and Imperial soldiers were killed. This figure includes the sixty percent of the young company grade, front line officers who were killed in action on the first day–a stunning statistic. (Sources: author’s research and BBC)

Thiepval Wood G Hackney


Photograph taken by George Hackney at Thiepval Wood May/June 1916. Paul Pollock, standing and smoking, was the son of the Presbyterian Minister at St Enoch’s Church in Belfast, where George Hackney worshipped. He was killed on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. His body was never found and name was only added to the Thievpal Memorial to the Missing in 2013. (photo courtesy of the Ulster Museum and BBC)

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: