Colour Photos of World War One

A hero saves his comrades


This photograph and caption appeared in the Daily Mail Weekend magazine in 2007

Driver Tom Spencer, an ambulance driver, repeatedly ventured into No Man's Land on the Somme in 1916 to bring in wounded comrades who had been left stranded and helpless after the tide of battle had moved on. He eventually rescued 20 men on a single day and this picture shows him approaching a trench with one of the men over his shoulders.

One of the war's greatest heroes was Noel Chavasse, son of the Bishop of Liverpool, a doctor with the Royal Army Medical Corps. During fierce fighting in the Battle of the Somme he repeatedly went into No Man's Land, which was raked with machine-gun and artillery fire, to bring back wounded men. For his bravery, he was awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest medal for gallantry. The following year, during the battle of Passchendaele, Chavasse repeated his incredible feat, but this time he himself was hit and killed. He was one of a tiny band of men to be awarded two Victoria Crosses - but sadly, the second award was posthumous. His grave at Brandhoek, near Ypres, is one of the most visited on the Western Front. In the trenches, the proportion of men killed was 12 per cent, but more than half (56 per cent) were wounded.