A photographer from Sutton who documented the deaths of British soldiers in the First World War is having his story made public in a new book.

Ivan Bawtree was responsible for photographing graves in the British Western Front in Northern France from 1915 to 1919.

His great great nephew, Jeremy Gordon-Smith, will release his book ‘Photographing the Fallen’ on September 30.

The new author, 39, told Sutton Guardian: “It was a family project that I’ve found fascinating.

“It’s given me a chance to walk with Ivan around the Western Front and try to engage with what it was like. While Ivan was a non-combatant it brought home the scale of the devastation.”

Ivan Bawtree was a Sutton resident all his life and lived in Clapham Lodge off Banstead Road.

During the war, British soldier death counts were rising rapidly which inspired Sir Fabian Ware to set up the Graves Registration Commission in 1915.

He acquired the services of three photographers, including 21-year-old Ivan Bawtree, to visit the cemeteries in British held areas of the Western Front to document the dead.

The service was funded by the British Red Cross.

When his great great nephew Jeremy was 16 his dad gave him a collection of Ivan’s photographs and diaries while he was studying the First World War in school.

Jeremy told Sutton Guardian the inspiration behind telling Ivan’s story.

He said: “It’s a project that’s grown bit by bit. More material came my way from another relative in 2012. There are important photos and diaries and I realised it could become a book, especially with the centenary coming up.

“It was quite a personal story. I enjoyed doing it and it helped me engage with the level of loss and devastation.

“The book is biographical of Ivan. There’s background to his story. There’s photos of him as a six-year-old boy and the last photo is me on his lap as a baby.

“It’s really him explaining the work he did on the Western Front and using photos to illustrate that.”

Ivan died in 1979 aged 85.

Jeremy is currently working on two more books with the next one focusing on the casualties Ivan photographed.