War Cry in Colour – By Mark McConville and Michael D. Carroll

By Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld

Some of World War Two’s lighter-hearted moments as well darker images reflecting the harsh realities of war have been brought back to life after being expertly colourised.

Incredible images show a soldier of Cameron Highlanders chalking a warning to Hitler on the side of the train as troops leave Aldershot for France, Winston Churchill taking aim with a Sten gun during a visit to the Royal Artillery experimental station and a British soldier reading up on Sicily which was the next target for Allied invasion.

Other solemn shots show thousands of weddings rings the Nazis removed from Holocaust victims to salvage the gold, a bomb being dropped from a plane onto a friendly which had drifted out of position, killing all 11 inside; and the grave of a British airborne soldier killed during the battle of Arnhem in September 1944, photographed by liberating forces on 15 April 1945. On the cross is written in German: ‘unknown British soldier’.

The original photographs were painstakingly colourised by design engineer Paul Reynolds (48), from Birmingham.

“I mostly colourise war photos because each photo usually has a story to tell, stories of real everyday people,” he said.

A soldier of the Cameron Highlanders chalks a warning to Hitler on the side of a train as troops leave Aldershot for France. It reads ‘Hitler! Look oot the Jocks are Coming’. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

“I think colourising detailed photos really brings them to life. You notice detail that usually gets missed due to the monotone background.

“The content of the photo conveys its own message; however I am glad that by colourising these photos more people are aware of the happenings of WWII.”

Paul explained how he added colour to the old photographs and the problems he ran into along the way.

“I use a digital pen and pad and basically layer on the colour as you would with a painting,” he said.

1st Airborne soldiers use parachutes to signal to Allied supply aircraft from the grounds of 1st Airborne Division’s HQ at the Hartenstein Hotel in Oosterbeek, Arnhem, 23 September 1944. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

“I’ve painted from an early age so this transition to digital was quite easy for me. The only problems I come across are the condition of the photos especially private commissions, most are torn, folded, creased, water damaged, dust spots and discoloured which then has to be digitally repaired with a brush, this process usually takes longer than the paint, but the finished photo is 100% sharper and more pleasing on the eye.”

A few of the thousands of wedding rings the Germans removed from Holocaust Victims to salvage the gold. The U.S. troops found rings, watches, precious stones, eyeglasses, and gold fillings, near Buchenwald concentration camp. 5 May 1945. Paul Reynolds / 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 Media Drum World, 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.

The grave of a British airborne soldier killed during the battle of Arnhem in September 1944, photographed by liberating forces on 15 April 1945. On the cross is written in German „unknown British soldier. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

“The art of colourisation truly brings some of history’s most dramatic and momentous events vividly to life,” he says.

“Rather than just looking more pleasing to the eye, or even being more accessible to people of the Twenty First Century – colourised images are important in that they give us an insight into how these events would have appeared to the people who actually witnessed them.

“The process of coloursation sounds simple – it is the application of colour over the black and white image generally using Photoshop. However, it is the choice and application of colours which is where the painstaking work begins.

Desert MArch 1942. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

“Colourisors must research the colours, using primary sources much like traditional historians. Only then will the correct colours be known.”

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.

The book has recently been taken into the private collection of London’s prestigious Victoria and Albert Museum, in recognition of its contribution to the history of photography.

A gun shield depicting a British bulldog trampling on a Nazi flag. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

Air Raid Precautions dog ‘Rip’ sits on top of a pile of brick rubble and timber, following an air raid in Poplar, London. 5 August 1941. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

Queen’s Own Cameron Highlander during bayonet practice 1941. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

The Queen and Princess Elizabeth talk to paratroopers in front of a Halifax aircraft during a tour of Airborne forces, 19 May 1944. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

In the trenches at Arnhem. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

Winston Churchill takes aim with a Sten gun during a visit to the Royal Artillery experimental station at Shoeburyness in Essex, 13 June 1941. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

”Miss Donna Mae II” 332nd BS 94th BG 8th AF. Plane drifted out of position and under B B-17G-30-VE 42-97791 “Trudy” on the bomb run. A 1,000 lb bomb tore the left horizontal stabilizer off and sent the plane into an uncontrollable spin, trapping the crew inside. The stress from the spin tore the wings off at about 13,000 feet; all 11 KIA. Berlin, Germany, 19 May 1944. Paul Reynolds (48), from Birmingham. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

French civilians erected this silent tribute to an American soldier who has fallen in the crusade to liberate France from Nazi domination. Carentan, France. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

US Flag raised over Shuri castle on Okinawa. Braving Japanese sniper fire, US Marine Lieutenant Colonel R.P. Ross, Jr. places on American flag on a parapet of Shuri castle on May 29, 1945. The castle is a former enemy stronghold in southern Okinawa in the Ryukyu (Loochoo chain), situated 375 miles from Japan. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

A British soldier reads up on Sicily, the target for the next Allied invasion, July 1943. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

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