Photography: 98for98 The century in photographs: Today 1916: The dogs of war

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Indy Lifestyle Online
World War One was in it's third year, and this photograph of a German army dog takes The Independent's 98 for 98 selection of images capturing the spirit of an age to 1916. This comical image could be mistaken for a soppy Athena poster, but the army dog was intelligent and agile and hunted out suspects and mines. Ten years later and their popularity was such that Rin Tin Tin, an ex-German Army dog, was one of the biggest movie stars of the day. He collected more nominations for Best Actor awards than any two-legged actor.

Although Army dogs were useful, as the number of war casualties rose it became apparent that the most advantageous weapon was a steady flow of soldiers. The year began with the ominous decision from the House of Commons to introduce compulsory military conscription. It was an emotive subject which led some cabinet ministers to resign, including the Home Secretary. Even underdogs were suddenly the focus of attention when wealthy families were asked to stop their "selfish, thoughtless extravagance," and sack their servants, thereby making them available to serve in the war.

Ireland was excluded from conscription, but suffered its own war during 1916. In April came the first glimpse of the Republican flag, it's green, white and orange symbolism flying over a Dublin post office which rebels had declared an "Irish Republic." The seven rebels involved were shot dead in May, and Irish nationalist Sir Roger Casement was also hanged for treason. "Then surely it is a braver, a saner and a truer thing to be a rebel than tamely to accept it as the natural lot of men," were said to be his last words - these would no doubt have struck a chord among men of other political persuasions during this time.

The unexpected longevity of the war paved the way for the downfall of Prime Minister Asquith in December, who was replaced by Lloyd George. Asquith had become a scapegoat, being sniped at continually for lack of foresight and indecisiveness. By the end of the year, the casualties from the battles at Verdun and the Somme numbered more than a million. The hit song, "Take me back to dear old Blighty", seemed nothing more than a lighthearted pop tune.

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