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This photograph shows a group of Romanian (or Rumanian, which was the preferred spelling back then), in dress uniforms in 1914. When this photo was taken, World War 1 had already started in the rest of Europe but Romania would not enter the war until 1916 on the side of the Allies, but then be forced to surrender in December 1917 after suffering severe defeats by Germany and Austria.

These officers’ sabres and plumed hats lend a majestic air to these men and make the whole business of killing seem so much more honourable and classy, and not the sordid, bloody slaughter that it actually is.

At the beginning of the Great War, both sides still favoured military uniforms that would not have seemed much out of place during the Napoleonic Wars or even earlier. It is a visual reminder of the strange dichotomy that became apparent during the Great War – on the one hand, amazing new weapons never before used in warfare (flame throwers, gas warfare, and aircraft) and n the other, 19th century thinking by officers and political leaders.

The splendid giant officer on the right of the picture, with his chest full of medals, is particularly interesting. I am not aware of his identity, but I wish I knew the story of how he had earned all of his medals and whether he served his country honourably in the War, or whether this towering giant of a man succumbed to a flesh destroying artillery explosion, or a lucky shot from an enemy soldier.