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Colourised World War I images show soldiers on the Western Front and in the trenches of the Somme

Photographs taken on the Western Front have been brought back to life with splashes of colour, showing British troops making the most of moments of ceasefire during World War I. 

One photo shows a soldier smiling as he jokingly poses inside the remains of a bathtub, while another shows a man accompanied by his trusted mule as they make their way through the muddy fields of the Western Front.

Another shows a group of Royal Artillery soldiers smiling for the photographer behind two large shells with the words ‘Guarantee for Peace’ etched on to them, whilst some of the men enjoy a smoke on their pipes. 

Ready for war: A group of Royal Artillery soldiers are seen sitting on two large shells, painted with the words RMA – which could stand for Royal Military Academy – and ‘Guarantee For Peace’ etched on them, circa 1918

Take cover! A British soldier is seen curled up inside what remains of a bathtub on the Western front in one of the photographs which have been colourised by a British electrician from Cardiff inspired by his grandfather who fought in World War I

Take cover! A British soldier is seen curled up inside what remains of a bathtub on the Western front in one of the photographs which have been colourised by a British electrician from Cardiff inspired by his grandfather who fought in World War I

A soldier and his mule making their way through the muddy fields on the Western Front. Animals were a crucial part of the war effort with horses, donkeys and camels carrying food, water, ammunition and medical supplies to men on the front lines, with dogs and pigeons regularly ferrying messages

A soldier and his mule making their way through the muddy fields on the Western Front. Animals were a crucial part of the war effort with horses, donkeys and camels carrying food, water, ammunition and medical supplies to men on the front lines, with dogs and pigeons regularly ferrying messages

The Western Front saw the lion’s share of fighting during the Great War, and was first ‘opened’ when the German Empire first invaded Luxembourg and Belgium in August, 1914.

The German Army’s efforts during the initial assault became known as the Rape of Belgium, which saw troops destroying villages and razing towns to the ground, executing innocent civilians. 

Germany were given a deadline to retreat, and when this expired on August 4, Britain joined the war on the continent. German troops were in France in less than a month and the Western Front would eventually become a more than 440 miles from the Swiss border to the North Sea.

Between 1915 and 1917, there were several offences along the Western Front that saw massive artillery bombardments and infantry advances. 

Horses were vital for transport, during World War I and they ended up dying in their droves on the Western Front. In 2014, the British Army only had 25,000 horses at its disposal, and so bought up any they could find - purchasing over 460,000 horses and mules from across Britain and Ireland over the course of the war. In addition over 600,000 were shipped from America

Horses were vital for transport, during World War I and they ended up dying in their droves on the Western Front. In 2014, the British Army only had 25,000 horses at its disposal, and so bought up any they could find – purchasing over 460,000 horses and mules from across Britain and Ireland over the course of the war. In addition over 600,000 were shipped from America

Somme life: Troops are seen making dinner in one of the trenches at the Battle of the Somme, which took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916. More than three million men fought, and one million either died or were seriously wounded, making it one of the bloodiest battles in history

Somme life: Troops are seen making dinner in one of the trenches at the Battle of the Somme, which took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916. More than three million men fought, and one million either died or were seriously wounded, making it one of the bloodiest battles in history

The other side: This image shows the German trenches on the Somme frontline. Some 434,000 to 500,000 German Empire troops died during the nearly five-month long battle 

The other side: This image shows the German trenches on the Somme frontline. Some 434,000 to 500,000 German Empire troops died during the nearly five-month long battle 

Entrenchments, machine gun emplacements, barbed wire and artillery inflicted severe casualties during the attacks and few significant advances were made. 

The most costly of these was the Battle of the Somme. It took place between 1 July and 18 November, 1916 and saw more than three million men fight in trenches in northern France.

One million either died or were seriously wounded, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history 

Other devastating battles were the Battle of Verdun in 1916 which saw an estimated combined casualties of 700,000 and the Battle of Passchendaele with 487,000 estimated casualties.

To break the deadlock that occurred in trench warfare, both sides employed new military technology such as poison gas, using aircraft and tanks.

A reconnaissance patrol from the Royal Scots are seen in Meteren, a village in the Netherlands in June 1918. Méteren had been occupied by British troops for a majority of the war, but it fell into German hands in April 1918 after which it was retaken by Allied forced in July

A reconnaissance patrol from the Royal Scots are seen in Meteren, a village in the Netherlands in June 1918. Méteren had been occupied by British troops for a majority of the war, but it fell into German hands in April 1918 after which it was retaken by Allied forced in July

An Allied soldier looks out through an empty window frame of a shattered house in the village of Villers-Carbonnel in Somme, near Amiens in France. The village was less than 3 kilometers behind the German frontline during the battle of the Somme, and came under heavy shelling to stop German supply deliveries

An Allied soldier looks out through an empty window frame of a shattered house in the village of Villers-Carbonnel in Somme, near Amiens in France. The village was less than 3 kilometers behind the German frontline during the battle of the Somme, and came under heavy shelling to stop German supply deliveries

On yer bike: British cyclist troops advance from Brie, Somme through a bombed out town in muddy terrain in 1917

On yer bike: British cyclist troops advance from Brie, Somme through a bombed out town in muddy terrain in 1917

Destruction: Armoured cars are seen parked in a heavily-shelled town at an unknown location in France

Destruction: Armoured cars are seen parked in a heavily-shelled town at an unknown location in France

Horses carry soldiers and carts through the destruction on the Menin Road in Belgium, 1917

Horses carry soldiers and carts through the destruction on the Menin Road in Belgium, 1917

The pictures were colourised by electrician Royston Leonard, 56, from Cardiff, in Wales, after being inspired by stories of his own grandfather’s time on the Western Front.

‘For me, colourisation started off as a hobby as I would colour photos for my family and friends,’ he said.

‘I got the idea for this set after hearing stories about by grandfather who was there for almost four years.

‘The photos show how hard life was and how the men were just trying to live in the terrible conditions that were on the Western Front for both sides and trying to make the best of it.

‘They show how life was at every moment and remind us just how cruel war is but at the same time these men carried on and made the most of it.’ 

‘As they pass from living memory to just remember them as people and not just images in a book or old photographs in a museum is so important and colourisation brings these people into the modern day,’ added Mr Leonard.

‘For they had dreams of a better world just like us today.’

How did World War One start? The shooting of Austro-Hungarian Archduke and the bloody campaign that followed

Archduke Franz Ferdinand, pictured, was assassinated in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with his Serbian wife Sophie on June 28, 1914

Archduke Franz Ferdinand, pictured, was assassinated in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with his Serbian wife Sophie on June 28, 1914

In the event, which is widely accepted to have sparked the outbreak of World War One, Archduke Franz Ferdinand – the nephew of Emperor Franz Joseph and heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire – was shot dead.

He was assassinated in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with his Serbian wife, Sophie, on June 28, 1914. 

Eventually killed by 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip, the couple had earlier that day been attacked by another man who threw a grenade at their car.

Archduke Ferdinand was shot in the neck, while his wife was hit in the abdomen. The assassination is believed to have started a domino effect which led to the break out of World War One a month later.

Princip and others wanted Bosnia to become part of Serbia.  Austria-Hungary, like many in countries around the world, blamed the Serbian government for the attack and hoped to use the incident as justification for settling the question of Slav nationalism once and for all. 

As Russia supported Serbia, an Austro-Hungarian declaration of war was delayed until its leaders received assurances from German leader Kaiser Wilhelm that Germany would support their cause in the event of a Russian intervention–which would likely involve Russia’s ally, France, and possibly Britain as well. 

On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the tenuous peace between Europe’s great powers collapsed. Within a week, Russia, Belgium, France, Great Britain and Serbia had lined up against Austria-Hungary and Germany, and World War One had begun. 

Artillery units of Austria-Hungary began to rain down shells on Belgrade, the Serbian capital – the very first shots of World War One.

That attack was to start a chain reaction that, within weeks, embroiled all of the world’s great powers into a global war which mobilised more than 70 million military personnel. The Great War – as it was soon to be known – was the first military conflict to be fought on an industrial scale.

But the technological advances that led to increases in the lethality of weapons were not matched by changes in strategy, with both sides resorting to practically suicidal human wave attacks.

Although much of the warfare took place in Europe, battle was soon joined across the planet via the colonies of the European imperial powers.

By 1918, the powers of Central Europe were exhausted by fighting. A final last-ditch offensive along the Western Front by Germany was successfully repelled and, as U.S. forces began to enter the trenches, the Allies staged a series of successful advances, forcing the enemy to surrender on November 11.  

Pass us a cuppa: A wounded soldier covered in mud is passed a hot beverage  on the Western Front

Pass us a cuppa: A wounded soldier covered in mud is passed a hot beverage  on the Western Front

Walking back: American engineers are seen returning from Battle of Saint-Mihiel in northeastern France which lasted from three days, from the 12th to 15th of September, 1918

Walking back: American engineers are seen returning from Battle of Saint-Mihiel in northeastern France which lasted from three days, from the 12th to 15th of September, 1918

Prisoners of war: Watched by a group of locals, German POWs walk down a street in the French town of Solesmes, on November 1, 1918, near the end of World War I

Prisoners of war: Watched by a group of locals, German POWs walk down a street in the French town of Solesmes, on November 1, 1918, near the end of World War I

How the Battle of Amiens heralded the Hundred Days offensive and the start of the end of the First World War

The Battle of Amiens, which began on August 8, 1918, proved to be the most decisive battle against the Germans on the Western Front.

The battle was the beginning of the end of the First World War, heralding the start of the period known as the Hundred Days offensive.

From the day the battle started exactly 100 years ago today – August 8, 1918 – successive military victories eventually led to the surrender of German forces and the end of the conflict on Armistice Day on November 11 that year.

Canadian soldiers in the Battle of Amiens during the First World War in August 1918

Canadian soldiers in the Battle of Amiens during the First World War in August 1918

The location of Amiens as a major rail hub was deeply important to the Allies because it was used to receive supplies for the front line and move them out.

General Sir Henry Rawlinson, commander of the Fourth Army, combined air and land forces, from Australia, Canada, France, America and Britain, to great effect during the conflict.

He had learnt the lessons of the bloody Somme offensive – where he played a prominent role – employing improved tactics and new technology, utilised alongside subterfuge, from concealing troop numbers to ending the practice of firing range-finding shells so there was no warning of the attack.

The battle saw more than 500 tanks from the UK’s Tank Corps deployed, more than 1,900 British and French aircraft used, tens of thousands of troops present, with the Australians and Canadians prominent in the attack, and all supported by more than 2,000 guns from the Royal Artillery.

Allied soldiers with captured prisoners of war after the Battle of Amiens in 1918

Allied soldiers with captured prisoners of war after the Battle of Amiens in 1918

Over the following days the gains made by Allied troops were huge, with many miles claimed from German forces – but its real impact was on the morale of many in the German high command, convincing them the war could not be won.

German forces suffered a shattering blow, with 27,000 casualties, including 16,000 prisoners. The Germans acknowledged this spectacular reverse.

General Erich Ludendorff famously described it as ‘the black day of the German army in this war’. The official German history described it as their greatest defeat since the start of the war.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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