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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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