Breath-taking Colourised Photos For The Anniversary Of Armistice Day – By Ben Wheeler and Michael Carroll

 
BREATH-TAKING photos depicting the agony and ecstasy of the end of First World War have been brought to life in colour for the first time to coincide with the 99th Armistice Day, as Britain remembers those who lost their lives in the conflict. Among the images are jubilant crowds in New York celebrating the allied forces’ victory and joyful soldiers making the long journey home from the front lines. However, additional photographs show coffins of fallen British troops being solemnly carried through the streets of London whilst another reveals nuns peacefully laying wreaths in a field of mass graves. The images were colourised by Cardiff based electrician, Royston Leonard (55), who painstakingly brought them into the 21st century. Royston Leonard / Media Drum World
 

Breath-taking photos depicting the agony and ecstasy of the end of First World War have been brought to life in colour for the first time to coincide with the 99th Armistice Day, as Britain remembers those who lost their lives in the conflict.

Among the images are jubilant crowds in New York celebrating the allied forces’ victory and joyful soldiers making the long journey home from the front lines.

However, additional photographs show coffins of fallen British troops being solemnly carried through the streets of London whilst another reveals nuns peacefully laying wreaths in a field of mass graves.

The images were colourised by Cardiff based electrician, Royston Leonard (55), who painstakingly brought them into the 21st century.

“The First World War was the first-time machines took over the battlefield, guns got massive with and both sides raining down shells by the making it hell for troops on the ground to the point where the men just had no hope at all, it was just madness,” he said.

“On the first day of the Somme 60,000 men died and by November when the attack stopped British casualties where about 600,000 and German casualties where about 850,000 men killed or wounded. There was no winner it was just madness taken over the world.

A badly wounded German prisoner sits on the ground awaiting medical treatment. Battle of the Somme. Photo colourised by Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com

“To this day there is still parts of France that are too dangerous to enter poisoned from 4 years of total war.”

Royston also discussed how long the project of colourising the photos took him as well as his personal relationship with World War One.

“The project has taken me months to do and many, many hours to complete,” he said.

Canadian Scottish Regiment moving on trucks to the Battle Of Vimy Ridge, 1917. Photo colourised by Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com

“My grandfather fought in the war and I often asked my father about him, my dad said that all he ever told him was that they moved 100 yards in four years.

“He had the firing pin from his machine gun on the shelf over the fire place in his front room until the day he died.

“To this day it is still such a shame that there was such a total waste of life and what these men had to endure in the face of hell.”

The striking colourised image is featured in British author Michael D. Carroll’s new book on the colourisation of historical images.

German Officers with an armored car. Photo colourised by Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com

Canadian Scottish at Canal du Nord Sept 1918. Photo colourised by Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com

Troops supposedly “going over the top” at the start of the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Photo colourised by Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com

20th Battery Canadian Field Artillery, Neuville St. Vaast, April 1917. Photo colourised by Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com.

Soldiers in a field wave their helmets and cheer on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918. Photo colourised by Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com

The Commanding Officer of the 9th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment stands on a lorry surrounded by his men and leads a cheer to the King, St Waast, near Bavai, 12 November 1918. Photo colourised by Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com

A group of eight British soldiers stand next to a blown-out building. Photo colourised by Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com

Funeral of Sergeant Henry James Nicholas who was killed in action on 23rd October 1918. Photo colourised by Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com

New Zealand troops on the Western Front smile for the camera from their trench. Photo colourised by Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com

Canadians captured in trenches at Hill 70. Photo colourised by Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com

A 75 metre shell crater in Ypres. Photo colourised by Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com

Michael D. Carroll is a journalist and author with a particular interest in historical photography.

From his base in Birmingham, UK he directs bespoke press agency mediadrumworld.com, and through his work at the agency, Michael came into contact with the thriving community of colourisors of historical images.

After placing several colourised history features into the national newspapers in the UK, he enlisted the support of this community to publish Retrographic, the first book to present a specially curated selection of iconic historical images in living colour.

By gathering an exclusive collection of 120 of the world’s most important images from photographic grandmasters such as Dorothea Lange and Alfred Eisenstaedt, as-well-as Pulitzer Prize winners Malcolm Brown and Nick Ut – Retrographic is now a published book which truly celebrates our shared visual heritage.

George V places a wreath on the coffin of the Unknown Warrior, 11November 1920. Photo colourised by Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com

Nuns, part of an order of nurses tending to graves. Photo colourised by Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com

Crowds in New York celebrate the end of the First World War. Photo colourised by Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com

The announcing of the armistice on November 11, 1918, was the occasion for large celebrations in the allied nations. Photo colourised by Royston Leonard / mediadrumworld.com

Through accepting Retrographic into its prestigious research collection, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) has recognised the book’s importance. Alongside rarer images, Retrographic transforms these world-famous classics from the black and white of the past, and allows these visual time-capsules to explode into the living colour of the 21st century.

With the support of ambassadors from the world’s first society for photographers, the Royal Photographic Society, UK, images and reviews on Retrographic have been featured in newspapers and online zines, including the Daily Mail, Telegraph, Times, Fstoppers, War History Online, and ePHOTOzine.

Retrographic by author Michael D. Carroll is available on Amazon