A series of stunning colourised images have brought to light the diversity of the Allied forces fighting in World War Two.
Incredible pictures show a U.S. soldier sharing a cigar with a Gurkha in Italy, British General Bernard L. Montgomery watching his tanks move up in North Africa and Russian sniper Julia Petrovna who is reported to have killed 80 German soldiers.
Other vivid colour photographs show a French Resistance fighter named Nicole who captured 25 Nazis, members of the Doncaster Home Guard training in preparation for an invasion that never came and FBI agents during firearms practice with a Browning R80 in 1936.
The original snaps 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 war is just a war but a good cigar is a smoke’ – among the images to have benefited from colourisation is this photo of a U.S. soldier sharing a cigar with a Gurkha in Italy in 1944. Among the British and American allied troops fighting in the Italian Campaign were Algerians, Indians, French, Moroccans, Poles, Canadians, New Zealanders, African Americans and Japanese Americans
A Navajo Code Talker relays a message on a field radio. U.S forces in both World Wars used native American languages as a basis to transmit coded messages. The code talkers served in the South Pacific during World War II and were kept a secret until 1968 when the Navajo code was finally declassified
Members of the ‘French Squadron SAS’ (1ere Compagnie de Chasseurs Parachutistes) during the link-up between advanced units of the 1st and 8th armies in the Gabes-Tozeur area of Tunisia in January 1943. Previously a company of Free French paratroopers, the French SAS squadron were the first of a range of units ‘acquired’ by Major Stirling as the SAS expanded
Among the diverse collection of fighters that features in Paul Reynolds’ collection is this February 1942 image of a Polish soldier in the Western Desert – the campaign took place in the deserts of Egypt and Libya and was the main theatre in the North African Campaign during the Second World War
It is a little known fact that among the diverse group of allies fighting the Nazis in Europe during World War Two were New Zealanders – seen here on top of a German Tiger tank captured at La Romola, Italy, on 31 July 1944. While the key role played by New Zealand servicemen in the Far East is well known, scores of aircrew and troops also perished in Europe
Julia Petrovna, a sniper of the Red Army was by 1943 reported to have killed 80 German soldiers. As this picture shows, she was a highly decorated soldier. Women served in the Russian forces in small numbers in the early stages of the war, but their number increased after heavy Russian losses. They played a major role in pushing back the Nazis at the end of the conflict
Nicole, also known as Simone Segouin, was a French Partisan is reported to have captured 25 Nazis in the Chartres Area, in addition to liquidating may others. In this August 1944 photo she can be seen posing with her automatic rifle. She also derailed trains, blew up bridges and was present at the liberation of Chartres on August 23, 1944, and the liberation of Paris two days later. She was promoted to lieutenant and awarded the Croix de guerre. After the war, Segouin became a nurse
Men of the 2/9th Gurkha Rifles training in the Malayan jungle, October 1941. More than 250,000 Gurkhas served in 40 battalions during WW2, in addition to eight Nepalese Army battalions, and parachute, training, garrison and porter units in almost all theatres of the war. ‘If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha,’ one general once remarked
French Resistance fighters man a barricade in Paris in August-1944. The Resistance was a generic name to describe the collection of French movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy regime. The men and women of the Resistance came from all economic levels and political leanings of French society
FBI firearms practice in 1936 with a Browning R80. The Browning Assault Rifle was the first official ‘Fighting Rifle’ of the FBI and was used in the capture and shooting of famous bandits Bonnie and Clyde, along with a multitude of weapons
King George VI inspects paratroops of 6th Airborne Division, 16 March 1944. A few months later, on 6 June 1944 the Allied invasion of Normandy – otherwise known as the D-Day landings had begun. It was the largest seaborne invasion in history and laid the foundations of the allied victory on the Western Front
Portrait of a soldier from No. 3 Commando armed with a ‘Tommy gun’ and wearing a balaclava, at Largs in Scotland, 2 May 1942. Commandos fought i different theatres throughout the war, including the Tunisia Campaign, Burma, assaults on Sicily and Normandy, campaigns in the Rhineland and crossing the Rhine
S/Sgt. Maynard Smith was a ball turret gunner in the 423rd Bomb Squadron, 306th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force. He won the Medal of Honor for a 1 May 1943 mission to bomb the submarine pens in Saint-Nazaire, France. In the mission he helped save the lives of six of his wounded comrades, put out a blazing fire and see off wave after wave of German fighters
General Bernard Montgomery watches his tanks in North Africa in November 1942. Monty stayed in the deserts until the final Allied victory in Tunisia in May 1943. He later commanded the British Eighth Army during the Allied invasion of Sicily and the Allied invasion of Italy and was in charge of all Allied ground forces during Operation Overlord from the initial D-Day landings until after the Battle of Normandy
Dick Winters and his Easy Company (Band of Brothers) lounging at Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s former residence, 1945. In 2001 a war drama of the same name – based on Stephen Ambrose’s non-fiction book – was released which chronicled the progress of Easy Company as it fought its way through Europe and the Far East
United States troops walk down a curved street past the Coliseum in Rome, Italy. A Roman man feels safe enough to walk in the opposite direction, using a cane, casually passing troops carrying their packs and weapons. Italy surrendered to the Allies on September 8, 1943
Dispelling misconceptions: The British Home Guard – set up as a reserve defense organisation with 1.5 million members – are often caricatured as the bumbling amateurs of Dad’s Army fame. But here Members of the Doncaster Home Guard show that was anything but the case. Here they can be seen wearing camouflage net veils over their faces to swim across a river during an assault exercise on 20 July 1942
Another Home Guard picture show that some members of the force – contrary to some impressions – were well equipped and carried up-to-date weapons. The Home Guard continued to guard the coastal areas of the United Kingdom and other important places such as airfields, factories and explosives stores until late 1944 when they were stood down
Among the colourised images produced by Paul Reynolds are the first assault waves of Marines taking cover prior to moving inland on Guam in 1944. ‘I mostly colourise war photos because each photo usually has a story to tell, stories of real everyday people,’ he said
The resolute faces of paratroopers of the 101st Airborne just before they took off for the initial assault of D-Day, June 6, 1944. The paratrooper in the foreground has just read General Eisenhower’s message of good luck and clasps his bazooka in the other hand.
Striking images like these are featured in British author Michael D. Carroll’s new book, Retrographic, which is available on Amazon now for £16.85.