Light-hearted War – By Mark McConville and Michael Carroll

On hand to greet their master when he returned from the front lines on Okinawa were these puppies, Nansi, Shoto, Sake, Zero, Banzai, and Okinawa. They present a housing problem to Marine tankman Private Bruce Rutherford, of Bristol, Tenn. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

Some of war’s more light-hearted moments have been given a new lease of life after being expertly colourised.

The incredible images show Allied soldiers mocking Adolf Hitler from his famous balcony at the Chancellery in conquered Berlin, Sherman tank crews watching a boxing match between two soldiers in Sicily and Maoris of ‘C’ Company, 28th Maori Battalion of the 2nd New Zealand Division perform the ‘Haka’.

Other striking shots show animals during the war as an American corporal aims a Colt M1895 atop a Sri Lankan elephant, puppies greet Marine tanksman Private Bruce Rutherford as he returns from Okinawa and Unsinkable Sam, the only cat in WWII to have served in both the Kriegsmarine and the Royal Navy.

The black and white photographs were painstakingly colourised by design engineer Paul Reynolds (48) from Birmingham, UK.

“Often, I try to choose photos that show an unusual side to the war, or photos that make you want to know more about the image you’re looking at,” he said.

“I think photos of this kind always benefit from being colourised. I think had the photographers at the time had colour equipment more readily available they would have used it.

The British Army in Sicily 1943. Sherman tank crews watch a boxing match, 1 August 1943. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
The British Army in Sicily 1943. Sherman tank crews watch a boxing match, 1 August 1943. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

“My favourite photo there is probably the Sherman tank commander cleaning his Thompson Sub machine gun whilst surrounded by puppies; so cool.”

Paul first started colourising with a family photo of my great Grandmother and progressed from there. He explained his other favourites in this set.

An American corporal aims a Colt M1895 atop a Sri Lankan elephant. The reason why the corporal is atop the elephant is a mystery but elephants were never a weapons platform adopted by the US Army, 1914. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
An American corporal aims a Colt M1895 atop a Sri Lankan elephant. The reason why the corporal is atop the elephant is a mystery but elephants were never a weapons platform adopted by the US Army, 1914. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

“My favourite story there is about Unsinkable Sam the ships cat, the only cat in WWII to have served in both the Kriegsmarine and the Royal Navy,” he said.

“The Marine on an Elephant photo is an eye catcher. It gets people talking and debating on my Facebook page as to whether it’s a viable tactic or just Marines having fun.”

Maoris of ‘C’ Company, 28th Maori Battalion of the 2nd New Zealand Division perform the ‘Haka’ for the visit of King George II of Greece, his wife the Queen, his cousin Prince Peter and Major General Freyberg. The location was at an army training camp at Helwan in Egypt. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
Maoris of ‘C’ Company, 28th Maori Battalion of the 2nd New Zealand Division perform the ‘Haka’ for the visit of King George II of Greece, his wife the Queen, his cousin Prince Peter and Major General Freyberg. The location was at an army training camp at Helwan in Egypt. 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 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.

NZ soldiers trout fishing using rifles near the Syrian and Turkish border, 9 July 1942. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
NZ soldiers trout fishing using rifles near the Syrian and Turkish border, 9 July 1942. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

“Rightly, many people, including the colourisation artists I have worked with, have a deep respect and feel strongly about the aesthetic value of black and white in framing the subjects in such a way as to make them more ‘classic’ and ‘timeless’,” he says.

“Psychologically we attach to the black and white medium a huge amount of baggage associated with our conception of the past, and a simple example of this in our digital experience is the use of black and white filters on our mobile devices, or Instagram accounts, to create a vintage feel to our images.

C-47 Skytrain ATC 1944 – An Air Transport Command plane flies over the pyramids in Egypt. Loaded with urgent war supplies and materials, this plane is one of a fleet flying shipments from the U.S. across the Atlantic and the continent of Africa to strategic battle zones. 1943. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
C-47 Skytrain ATC 1944 – An Air Transport Command plane flies over the pyramids in Egypt. Loaded with urgent war supplies and materials, this plane is one of a fleet flying shipments from the U.S. across the Atlantic and the continent of Africa to strategic battle zones. 1943. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

“Even if they were only taken seconds ago, adding black and white to the people in the pictures suddenly makes them look like they could be from a remote period in history. It can be argued that the addition of colour to black and white has the reverse psychological effect, making them feel more contemporary and less detached from the present.

“Many of these images are so famous, they are part of the tapestry of world civilization and will be familiar to nearly everyone.

“However, when something familiar is made unfamiliar, in this case through the addition of colour, the viewer is invited to consider the object as if for the first time.”

Anzio Beach Head Hospital – American soldiers inside hospital tent riddled with holes caused by German schrapnel from long range gun attacks which killed 5 & wounded 8 patients in the tent. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
Anzio Beach Head Hospital – American soldiers inside hospital tent riddled with holes caused by German schrapnel from long range gun attacks which killed 5 & wounded 8 patients in the tent. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

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.

British Prisoners of War celebrate their liberation from Stalag 11B at Fallingbostel, 16 April 1945. From left to right: Private Smyth of Downham, captured at Cherbourg in 1944; Private Ryan of Bradford, captured at Hertogenbosch, 1944; Corporal Beardmore of Cheadle, captured at Arnhem, 1944; Private Still of Manchester, captured at Arnhem, 1944 and Private Greare of Glasgow, captured at St. Valery, 1940. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
British Prisoners of War celebrate their liberation from Stalag 11B at Fallingbostel, 16 April 1945. From left to right: Private Smyth of Downham, captured at Cherbourg in 1944; Private Ryan of Bradford, captured at Hertogenbosch, 1944; Corporal Beardmore of Cheadle, captured at Arnhem, 1944; Private Still of Manchester, captured at Arnhem, 1944 and Private Greare of Glasgow, captured at St. Valery, 1940. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
Coast Guardsman prizes his batteres war bonnet. It saved his life on the invasion beaches of France. He was knocked down when a Nazi 30 claiber machine gun bullet tore a two inch hole in his tin hat. He escaped the incident with a minor scratch to the head. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
Coast Guardsman prizes his batteres war bonnet. It saved his life on the invasion beaches of France. He was knocked down when a Nazi 30 claiber machine gun bullet tore a two inch hole in his tin hat. He escaped the incident with a minor scratch to the head. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
Malaria drug warning. Skulls on a warning sign at a US Army hospital during World War II (1939-1945). Also known as quinacrine and mepacrine, the drug atabrine acts against the protozoan that causes malaria. Photographed at the 363rd Station Hospital, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
Malaria drug warning. Skulls on a warning sign at a US Army hospital during World War II (1939-1945). Also known as quinacrine and mepacrine, the drug atabrine acts against the protozoan that causes malaria. Photographed at the 363rd Station Hospital, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
August 01, 1935 An unidentified corporal from the US Army’s 30th Infantry Division (based in the San Francisco Presidio) stands at attention with a group of women in two-piece bathing costumes, doughboy helmets, and heels, each of whom holds an M1917 Enfield rifle, on a parade ground in Camp George Derby, on the grounds of the California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park, San Diego California, mid to late 1935. Mostly obscured behind the women is the entrance to the expo’s so-called ‘Indian Village.’ Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
August 01, 1935 An unidentified corporal from the US Army’s 30th Infantry Division (based in the San Francisco Presidio) stands at attention with a group of women in two-piece bathing costumes, doughboy helmets, and heels, each of whom holds an M1917 Enfield rifle, on a parade ground in Camp George Derby, on the grounds of the California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park, San Diego California, mid to late 1935. Mostly obscured behind the women is the entrance to the expo’s so-called ‘Indian Village.’ Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
Finnish soldier with a pack Reindeer, on an ice covered lake, near the tiny village of Nautsi, in northern Lapland, Finland. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
Finnish soldier with a pack Reindeer, on an ice covered lake, near the tiny village of Nautsi, in northern Lapland, Finland. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
WWII Thanksgiving. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
WWII Thanksgiving. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
Unsinkable Sam, the only cat in WWII to have served in both the Kriegsmarine and the Royal Navy. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
Unsinkable Sam, the only cat in WWII to have served in both the Kriegsmarine and the Royal Navy. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
July 06, 1945 – The final victory over Nazi Germany achieved, soldiers and allies of the British, American and Russian armies mimic and mock Adolf Hitler and his ideas on Hitler’s famous balcony at the Chancellery in conquered Berlin. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
July 06, 1945 – The final victory over Nazi Germany achieved, soldiers and allies of the British, American and Russian armies mimic and mock Adolf Hitler and his ideas on Hitler’s famous balcony at the Chancellery in conquered Berlin. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
US Marine feeds bananas to a goat, Saipan 1944. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com
US Marine feeds bananas to a goat, Saipan 1944. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

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