Warning: the photograph below is very graphic and may disturb some viewers, hence the spoiler tag. Click at your own risk.

enter image description here

The picture shows the skeletal corpse of a dead German infantryman (the helmet is clearly German) outside a dugout shelter. It has become fairly famous, and is featured in the opening credits of the classic BBC documentary series The Great War.

The fact that the body was left in situ long enough for the flesh to decay completely suggests to me that it may be from one of the most lengthy engagements on the Western Front - perhaps the Somme Campaign or the Battle of Verdun, either late in the battle or shortly after it ended, but this is just an informed guess.

Do we know who this man was, where and when the picture was taken, or anything else about it?

  • Initial searches are finding this linked with Somme...
    – justCal
    Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 14:48
  • Have you asked The Great War?
    – Schwern
    Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 16:48
  • @Schwern - It was made in 1964, so I doubt the writers, production team, etc, are still around.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 14:14
  • @WadCheber Oh! Thought you meant the current YouTube documentary series. Might be worth an email to BBC archives, and to the YT series.
    – Schwern
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 16:57
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    One thing to consider -- he's not completely "skeletal". His hands -- which I suspect are in gloves -- appear fairly intact, and the rest of the uniform appears to be fairly well filled-out. Which leads me to believe the skull was "cleaned" by rats or other scavengers as it's the only exposed portion of the body. This could happen quite quickly, so it's hard to say how long the body may have been left in-place. Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 15:07

1 Answer 1


This image seems to source from the Beaumont Hamel region, sometime during (or after) the Battle of Somme.

Beaumont-Hamel was situated near the northern end of the 45-kilometre front being assaulted by the joint French and British force.

Heavy losses from one Newfoundland regiment caused the founding of a memorial:

Versions of the image can be found on both

All I find concerning the soldier has him as unidentified German soldier.

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