The Face of World War One

BBC WW1 at Home | 2014

The Face of World War One

Artist Helen Marshall was commissioned by BBC Local Radio to create ‘The Face of World War One’, containing more than 30,000 photographs captured across the nation during the BBC World War One at Home Live Events. Original photographs from 1914-1918 have also been included in the mosaic, supplied from the archives of Imperial War Museums and public submissions. This mosaic commemorates how the sacrifices made by those during World War One, shaped the face of today.

Private James Ernest Beaney was born on April 16th, 1893 in Battersea, London. He had a brother and two sisters, and the family lived in Putney. Before joining the army, James worked as a plumber’s mate. He served in The Queen’s Regiment (Royal West Surrey Regiment), arriving in France on May 31st, 1915. James died on August 8th, 1916 at the Somme.

The Printed Artwork is 150 metres squared and was located outside  BBC Broadcasting House Piazza from the 7th November until the 14th November 2014. The digital artwork was projected on to a 27-foot-high wall in IWM North Main Exhibition Space on Remembrance Weekend. It is also featured here online as a zoom in image.

Helen Marshall says “This portrait image was selected not only because of it’s important historical context, being sited clearly in it’s own time, but because it is a face that could also exist in the here and now, in our time. “

Every photograph in this artwork tells a story. Explore some of the stories below and more here on the IWM Lives of the First World War. Explore the story of how the UK came together to create this piece of commemorative art in the special iWonder guide, and watch the News Headlines and the story of how James’s family were found after the artwork was made.

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Hello, hope you don’t mind me contacting you. I watched the BBC news report last night about your image of the soldier which was very moving – in more ways than one, as in the background I saw a picture that is very familiar to me – it is my grandad.

His picture is up on one of the computer screens as you are being interviewed. It gave me goosebumps to see it.

Wonderful project – well done.


Member of the Public

In the News Headlines

Learn more about how the project was created via this special BBC iWonder audio visual guide and view the final film.


BBC iWonder
BBC iWonder
zoom in page

Lives of the First World War at the Imperial War Museum

Lives of the WW1
Marion Dorothy Chapman

British Army,
Voluntary Aid Detachment

IWM link

From the records found on Lives of the First World War we can see that Marion was born in South Shields, Durham, in 1890. She was one of a large family, with seven brothers and three sisters.

Marion served as a nurse with the Voluntary Aid Detachment during the First World War. She arrived in Egypt in October 1917 and worked at 17th General Hospital. Like many nurses who worked long hours treating the sick, Marion herself fell ill and died from pneumonia on 10 August 1918. She was 27 years old. Marion is buried in Alexandria War Memorial Cemetery in Egypt.

Marion’s mother Dora chose the inscription on her grave of ‘They are in Peace’. The family also donated Marion’s portrait photograph to IWM Collections in her memory.

Lives of the WW1
Second Lieutenant Robert Edward Adeney

British Army, Royal Flying Corps

IWM link

From the records found on Lives of the First World War we can see that Benjamin was born in London, in 1898. He was educated at the City of London School and Hurstpierpoint College, before joining the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps.

In June 1916, he received his commission as Second Lieutenant in the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment). From August 1916, Robert’s unit was attached to the Royal Flying Corps and he qualified as a pilot. Robert went to France with the Royal Flying Corps on 17 March 1917. Less than a month later, Robert died from wounds after taking part in an aerial battle at Douai, France. He was just 19 years old when he died.

Robert was found by German forces and buried nearby. Today his grave is in Douai Communal Cemetery.

Lives of the WW1
Private Benjamin Balme

British Army, West Yorkshire Regiment, Service #16/736

IWM link

From the records found on Lives of the First World War we can see that Benjamin was born in Clayton, Yorkshire, in 1895. Prior to the war, he followed the family tradition and worked in the wool industry as a wool sorter and worsted spinner.

Benjamin joined the 16th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment, known as the Bradford Pals. He embarked to Egypt on 6 December 1915, before going to France in preparation for the Battle of the Somme. On 1 July 1916, Benjamin went into battle at Serre where he was killed. He was listed as missing and presumed dead, and his body was never found.

Frederick is one of over 72,000 First World War servicemen to be commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

Lives of the WW1
Marguerite Maude McArthur

British Army, Young Mens Christian Association

IWM link

From the records found on Lives of the First World War we can see that Marguerite was born in Kensington, London, in 1892. Her father was Australian and her mother was from Canada.

Marguerite worked as a visitor at a YMCA Hut at White City early in the war, and because of her language skills in French and German, she later worked in the War Office Translation Bureau. From March 1918 onwards, Marguerite was part of the Army Educational Service of the YMCA at Etaples in France. She contracted pneumonia and died on 13 February 1919, aged 26. Marguerite is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery.

In 1920, Marguerite’s friend Josephine Kellett published a book about her life, entitled That Friend of Mine: A Memoir of Marguerite McArthur.

Lives of the WW1
Nurse Sarah Broom MacNaughton

British Army, French Red Cross

IWM link

From the records found on Lives of the First World War we can see that Sarah was born in Scotland in 1864. Her parents died when she was young, and so by the age of 26 she was living on her own means in London.

Sarah embarked on a career as a writer, and from photographs in IWM Collections we can see that she travelled to India before the war. Following the outbreak of war, Sarah volunteered with the Red Cross and arrived in France in April 1915. She kept a diary of her experiences, and devoted all of her energy to helping others. Later in the war she began a journey to Russia with the Red Cross but became ill on this journey and was forced to return to England. Sarah died on 24 June 1916 and was buried in London.

Her diaries and letters were published in 1919 under the title My War Experiences.

Lives of the WW1
Stoker First Class William Alexander Beal

Royal Navy, HM Submarine E3

IWM link

From the records found on Lives of the First World War we can see that William was born in Peterborough on 9 February 1892. He joined the Royal Navy on 14 September 1910 in Portsmouth.

William served  on board eight different ships between 1910 and 1914, and in that time was  promoted from Second Class to First Class Stoker. On 18 October 1914 William was killed after  the submarine that he was serving on, E3, was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U27. William’s body was not recovered and so he has no known grave. William was 21 years old.

William is one of around 10,000 sailors of the First World War to be commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

Lives of the WW1
Captain Frederick Henry Naylor

British Army, Imperial Camel Corps

IWM link

From the records found on Lives of the First World War we can see that Frederick was born in Australia in 1878. He served with Australian forces during the South African War in 1900 and 1901.

Frederick worked as a plantation manager before joining the Australian Imperial Force on 16 April 1915. He left for overseas service a month later, and was promoted to Lieutenant on 26 August 1915. Frederick transferred to the Imperial Camel Corps in February 1916 and attained the rank of Captain. He was also Mentioned in Despatches for gallantry. Frederick was killed in action near Gaza in the Middle East, on 19 April 1917.
Frederick is one of 3,300 First World War servicemen to be commemorated on the Jerusalem War Memorial in Israel to those who have no known grave.

Lives of the WW1
Staff Nurse Nellie Spindler

British Army, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service

IWM link

From the records found on Lives of the First World War we can see that Nellie was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, in 1891. From 1912 to 1915 she trained as a nurse at the Township Infirmary in Leeds.

From November 1915  to May 1917, Nellie was a Staff  Nurse at Whittington  Military Hospital in Lichfield, Staffordshire. Nellie arrived in France on 23 May 1917 and worked at the 44th Casualty Clearing Station in Abbeville. On 21 August 1917, the hospital was bombed and Nellie was hit by a shell. She fell unconscious and died twenty minutes later in the arms of Nurse Wood, who was also from Wakefield.

Nellie is the only woman to buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery. Nellie is also one of only two female casualties of the First World War buried in Belgium.


Total Images

Square Meters

Years since WW1