NOT a real WW1 soldier in the mud

Another picture that is shared online with the claims that this is a genuine WW1 photo showing a real soldier in a terrible situation.
Often with titles such as “This photo of an unknown soldier captures the horrors of WWI perfectly” or “Australian soldier sitting in the Mud with his head in his hand on the Western front, World War I”.

But just like with the other photo of a WW1 soldier I dealt with earlier, this too is not a real WW1 photo, it is not even a real soldier.

What you see on the photo is a mannequin in a display at the Australian War Memorial collection in Canberra.

It was made in 1986 by very talented artist Peter Corlett.
He succeeded so well in depicting the terrible situation at the front during WW1 that the statue became very popular with the visitors of the Western Front Galleries.
Anyone who visited this museum will remember the soldier and it is therefore no wonder that it is often recognised and mentioned when someone shares it online again.

I am not sure why some people think it is real, there clearly is something not quite right with the picture perspective wise, but it also just doesn’t look like a photo from that era.
Mind you, the pose was actually based on a genuine WW1 photo of a stretcher bearer, it is unknown if the man is suffering from shell shock, gas or just exhausted.

It is of course a huge compliment to the people responsible for the display at the museum, they’ve managed to create such a lifelike mannequin who’s struggle with the war is so poignant and well displayed that people have been mesmerized by it and that a photographer can make countless people think it shows a real soldier in distress.

Photo showing the display in the museum.
© James D Kightly

But it is important that we stop people from sharing this picture as being a genuine depiction of a soldier with shell shock.
There are real WW1 images that show this horrible condition and even film footage.
It is good to make people think back to the terrible consequences of war, the huge sacrifices made and the horrors of shell shock or PTSD then and now.
But when you do, use the real photos of real people who went through this, not a picture of a mannequin in a museum.


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Picture(s) found online, used for (re-)educational purposes only.
I do not own the copyrights to these images, I only share them here for educational purposes to try and make sure the real story behind it becomes known and people will stop spreading false information.
If the copyright owner objects to the sharing here, kindly contact me and I shall alter the article.
If you’re interested in using any of the images here get in touch with the copyright owners mentioned in the article.
Feel free to contact me with questions.

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