Brothers share a kiss and Tommies beam as they forget about their troubles for a few precious moments
This extraordinary collection of black and white photos show Tommies on a precious few days of leave.
Tommies on leave cheerfully wave as their train pulls into London’s Victoria Station
Two brothers – one serving in the army, and one a sailor – share a kiss on the doorstep of their parents’ home
Troops queue up at the money exchange office after arriving at Victoria Station on leave
Troops return to the front in November 1916 after enjoying leave back home
Four sergeants pose on camels in front of the pyramids in Egypt during their period of leave from the hostilities
Troops crowd a platform at Victoria Station after alighting from a train at the start of their period of leave
They are seen beaming with delight as they arrive at London’s Victoria station before they are reunited with their families and loved ones.
When the Great War began in August 1914, the Army expected it to be a short conflict and refused to allow any leave.
But when it continued beyond the winter, both the morale of troops and the civilian population began to dip.
And by 1915 the army top brass gradually allowed fighters to take a few days away from hostilities, and if possible, to return home.
It allowed them the previous opportunity to rest and see loved ones.
During their leave, which was usually every 10-18 months, soldiers got involved with peacetime activities, helping out at home and working in the fields.
Army top brass initially refused to allow leave, but after moral dipped they changed the policy
British officers take it easy on the deck of a ship taking them home for a period of leave
A soldier from the Sherwood Foresters is tended to by his mother after arriving home from the front line
During their leave, which was usually every 10-18 months, soldiers got involved with peacetime activities
Officers crowd the harbour at Boulogne, France as they wait to board a boat taking them home
Troops wave their leave papers as they gather in Poperinghe, Belgium before going on leave in 1917
However, some opted for more exotic locations.
One photo shows four British sergeants posing on camels during a trip to the Pyramids in Egypt while on leave.
Elsewhere two brothers – one serving in the army, and one a sailor – share a kiss on the doorstep of their parents’ home.
Adam Collins served with the Royal Flying Corps on the Western Front and retained fond memories of being home on leave.
He said: “it was nice to be back and to be made a fuss of, and that is one of the nice things I remember about war. Oh, you were treated as a hero. Oh, they were glad to see you, you were made very welcome. Because people appreciated in those days what a soldier was doing. It’s a pity it’s not the same today.”
French troops, however were not permitted leave – which was one of the grievances that sparked a mutiny among them in 1917.
Navy officers and members of the Women’s Navy aboard HMS Essex as it arrives for shore leave in Plymouth
British officers board a train at the start of their long journey home from the Italian front
A Sherwood Forester arrives at the front gate of his mother’s home during his leave
The Tommy heads to the front door of his mother’s home
The Tommy is greeted by his mother on the doorstep as he begins his leave
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