Incredible moment Germans surrendered at the Somme caught on camera for first time

Lance Corporal George Hackney captured the moment the 36th Ulster Division forced German soldiers to surrender in July 1916. (Caters)

A soldier's secret World War One photo collection has revealed for the first time the incredible moment Germany surrendered at the Battle of the Somme.

Lance Corporal George Hackney defied army bosses to take candid pictures of the Great War when he was called up to fight on October 3, 1915, with the BBC airing his images for the first time last night.

His photographs have been declared the conflict's 'find of the century', and have now been shown to the public for the first time.

Hackney captured the moment the 36th (Ulster) Division forced German soldiers to surrender in July 1916.

Director Brian Henry Martin, who brought the photos to television, said: ‘He returned with a unique collection of images, unseen until now, that provide a window into what it was like to live, and die, on the Western Front.’

The veteran managed to snap candid and intimate shots throughout the conflcit.(Caters)
Much of a soldier's life in the trenches involved the mundane. (Caters)

Northern Irishman Hackney used a folding camera 'not much bigger than a smartphone' to capture life at war before giving the photos to loved ones on his return.

Lcpl Hackney faced court martial if he was ever caught filming without permission but his remarkable record now offers a unique testimony to life at the front.

The quiet before the storm: Hackney captured these resting troops on their way to war via ship. (Caters)

His photographs have only now been published for the first time after being discovered two years ago alongside a host of Hackney's personal diaries, when Martin stumbled across them while researching.

His images were aired for the first time last night on BBC Northern Ireland in The Man Who Shot the Great War.

Martin said: ‘Who was this man? How did he manage to capture these remarkable scenes from a range of sites at a time when unofficial photography was illegal on the Western Front?’

The stunning photographs, which were donated to the Ulster Museum after the veteran died in 1977, show the mundane life of soldiers relaxing in the trenches and travelling to France on a boat.

[WW1 tribute in Sainsbury's Xmas ad]
[Tower Poppies: Volunteers Begin Clearing Moat]

[Armistice Day: Ukip's Nigel Farage Denies Nationalism to Blame for WW1 Slaughter]

The shots have been hailed as the 'photographical WWI discovery of the century' by Belgian Ministry of Defence chief Franky Bostyn.

The military man gave some of his photos to the loved ones of fallen comrades, including Sergeant James Scott.

Scott was killed in the Battle of Messines in Belgian West Flanders in May, 1917, and Hackney presented three pictures to his family after the war ended in 1918.

Now, just a week after Remembrance Day, the director is bringing the 300 pictures to the BBC to show what life was really like in WWI, 100 years on from its outbreak.

And, it is believed that there could be another 200 pictures still undiscovered.

Amanda Moreno, Museums of The Royal Irish Regiment, said: ‘As a collection of photographs of the First World War, they are totally exceptional.’