Beaming in their chipped uniforms, British troops pose for a group photo as a bomb-damaged French basilica looms in the background.
Others, taking a break from the ravages of fighting on the Western Front, stand or sit as they try to look their best against a backdrop of bricks and hanging fabrics.
These men were just a few of the thousands of British, French and Canadian soldiers who were photographed in the same outdoor studio in Albert, northern France, during the First World War.
Many of the images were captioned “Somewhere in France” in a nod to censors trying to ensure that troop positions did not fall to the German enemy.
But several shots showing Albert’s Notre-Dame de Brebières basilica in the background, with its upside-down golden Virgin clinging to the spire, reveal how the men were not afraid to defy censorship by revealing their locations.
The images were shared with MailOnline by eminent historians Robin Schafer, Professor Peter Doyle and Taff Gillingham, knowing that hundreds of other similar images must be in British, French and Canadian homes.
They are calling on MailOnline readers to search their homes and family photo albums in the hope that they will find pictures which were also taken in the Albert studio.
Beaming in their chipped uniforms, British troops pose for a group photo as a bomb-damaged French basilica looms in the background. These men were just a few of thousands of British and French soldiers who were photographed at the same outdoor studio in Albert, northern France, during the First World War.
Many of the images were captioned “Somewhere in France” in a nod to censors trying to ensure that troop positions did not fall to the German enemy. Above: The brickwork, floor and backdrop – along with the caption – are all signs that reveal how the image was one of those taken in the Albert studio
Tell-tale signs include the caption “Somewhere in France”, the chalk on the boots of the troops, the presence of the basilica and the background masonry in the outside studio.
The paved or tiled floor, fabric backdrop, chairs or stools, and seized German “Pickelhaube” helmets worn by some soldiers also mean that the images were taken at Albert.
All images were taken between 1915 and 1917 – before, during and after the horrific Battle of the Somme, when over 600,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded in just over three months.
The chalky boots of Albert’s troops give further clues to their location, which was only a few miles from the front.
The images, believed to have been taken by a French photographer in the garden of a house in Albert, are unique as most studio images were captured at least 25 miles from the front line.
German military historian M. Schafer said: “Albert is basically the front. It’s well within artillery range. It’s not far behind the lines, but they may have gone there for a brief respite.
‘That’s why they were all dirty and had their weapons.
British troops from Dundee in Scotland are seen posing in Albert while wearing their fur overcoats, as a small board at their feet reads ‘Somewhere in France’
A French soldier poses for a photograph. The flooring and backdrop in this image shows how this was also taken in the Albert studio
This soldier is also wearing a Pickelhaube helmet, while the chair he is resting on can be seen in other images. Brits may find family photo album images contain same chair
Many images were found in a German soldier’s photo album which was later purchased on Ebay by Mr. Schafer.
In the spring of 1918, Albert had been largely destroyed by shellfire and was later captured by the Germans after their devastating offensive.
The German soldier reportedly came across copies of the footage in the home studio.
He wrote in the album how the house “collapsed” shortly after finding the footage.
Multiple copies of footage existed as the soldiers would have returned to the studio to retrieve them and send them home to relatives.
Professor Doyle, author and military historian, said: ‘We want to try to collect as many images as possible to get a view of the men who have passed through this studio.
“Men of different ages, in different uniforms, men who can be identified with different regiments.
“Across the UK there will be plenty of images. We can place these men in Albert from the ground and the background.
‘It’s a pretty exciting thing. We hope this crowdsourcing approach will provide a true snapshot of the men passing through the studio.
Historians hope that by analyzing as many images as possible, they can get a clearer picture of which troop regiments and companies passed through Albert, and when they did.
They then plan to hold an exhibition of the images, possibly on the 110th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War next year.
Mr Gillingham, who runs the Great War Huts museum in Hawstead, Suffolk, said: ‘The ones I particularly like are the ones where it says ‘Somewhere in France’ because censorship meant you couldn’t tell where you were.
“The photographer made sure the basilica was behind them.
The chalky (circled) boots of Albert’s troops give further clues to their location, just a few miles from the front. The men pose with a sign that reads ‘Somewhere in France’ and ‘Dundee Lads’
Canadian soldiers are seen posing in their uniforms in Albert’s outdoor studio. One wears a German Pickelhaube helmet given to him to use as a prop
French soldiers were less concerned with revealing their location, as evidenced by this man standing in front of a sign indicating that he is in Albert. The basilica in the background is another clue
“So everyone knew exactly where they were, but if you paid the photographer and kept them in your wallet, the censor wouldn’t have known.”
“I like the humor of this, that the photographer had a joke that all the soldiers all agreed on.
“He was wise to move to a city that was a major railhead, so he had a lot of customers, which is why there are now so many.”
Speaking of the hope of uncovering more pictures of ordinary Britons, he added: ‘We can see the pictures, we can glean more information and in return the people who have them will learn more about their loved ones during the Premiere World War. ‘
During the German offensive of 1918, the Albert Basilica was completely destroyed before being rebuilt in the late 1920s.