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New Exhibition Shows Rare Shots Of WW1's Aftermath

They include pictures of 32,000 destroyed German rifles, Armistice Day celebrations, treatments for injured servicemen and more.

Horses and men of 1st Anzac Corps on their way past the ruins of the Cathedral and Cloth Hall in Ypres (Picture: © IWM E[AUS] 1122).

Rarely seen photographs showing the destruction of First World War weapons are going on display as part of an exhibition on the aftermath of the conflict.

From Armistice Day celebrations in Birmingham and refugees returning to Amiens, to treatments for injured servicemen and military equipment being repurposed for civilian use, the images show the fallout from the Great War and the new world that emerged.

They are part of an exhibition of more than 130 black and white photographs, documents and objects from the Imperial War Museums' archives, 'Renewal: Life after the First World War in Photographs'.

They include rarely seen images of 32,000 destroyed German rifles, a shearing machine cutting sword blades in half and the German battleship SMS Bayern sinking at Scapa Flow.

Stack of 32,000 destroyed German rifles (Picture: © IWM Q 61439).

The exhibition at IWM London charts the initial optimism after the end of the First World War.

But it also reveals the extent of destruction and dislocation it left behind, and how the promise of rebuilding the world did not always deliver.

While the French city of Ypres which was devastated by the fighting was rebuilt along its medieval lines, in the UK social measures such as "homes fit for heroes" ran out of money.

The exhibition also shows the ingenuity employed in helping servicemen injured in the conflict, through plastic surgery and prosthetic limbs.

Patients being taught to use their new artificial limbs (Picture: © IWM Q 33690).

It also highlights how companies such as aeroplane manufacturers switched tack to survive, in one case initially by bolting wicker chairs inside bombers to develop civil aviation as a peacetime alternative to warplanes.

Alan Wakefield, head of First World War and early 20th century conflict at IWM, said: "Drawing primarily on IWM's rich and varied photography archive, this new exhibition presents images from both official and personal collections, giving insight into the innovation, opportunism and resourcefulness that shaped the rebuilding and regeneration of the post-war world.

"Both surprising and inspiring, the exhibition highlights the resilience and ingenuity of the human spirit in a time of unprecedented social and political change."

Opening on 21 September, 'Renewal: Life after the First World War in Photographs' is a free exhibition at IWM London.

It is part of 'Making a New World', a season of exhibitions taking place until the end of March 2019 looking at how the First World War shaped today's society.