The old photographs made the grim reality of World War I look so real — grubby trenches packed with equally dirty soldiers…juvenile Diggers carrying equipment that looked as heavy as their own weight…
Disturbingly emotional war scenes all captured through the lenses of the camera…restored and recolored using modern techniques all thanks to the very detailed work of a photo lab manager at Ted’s Cameras in Maroochydore.
A few months back, Drew Wall, director of Maroochy RSL, approached the camera shop carrying with him negatives that were almost 100 years old including ones from Gallipoli in 1915 and another 120 from the Egyptian deserts all taken by Private Eric Cherry, a young Australian serviceman assigned in the front line.
Eric Cherry and His Camera
Private Eric Cherry worked as a medic during the Great War and was stationed in Gallipoli from August down to December 1915.
After his Gallipoli stint, he went to Egypt and served there for a short time before he flew back to Australia in May 1916 to finish medicine.
While working as a medic, he had he had a Kodak Vest Pocket camera with him – the equipment he used to take all the photos in his collection. He took these pictures so he could document his time and conditions while serving in the front line.
One of the most captivating images in his collection of himself, a good-looking man who was still in the prime of his youth, carrying an enormous backpack with a lighted cigarette in his mouth pictured along with other Diggers in a gritty trench.
After his stint in the war, time saw Cherry serving in Brisbane as a doctor; he died in 1959.
Walking Down History with Cherry’s Photo Collection
The photo lab manager who worked on the photos, Michelle Fraser, saw the importance the images in the historical moments they depicted. So, she tried to do complimentary blow-ups of the negatives for the Maroochy RSL in preparation for the exhibit which will display the said images for the club’s 100th year commemoration of World War I in 2014.
Miss Fraser commented that in her line of job, she had seen countless of vintage wartime photos but the Cherry’s images were different as they were taken right at the middle of the Great War.
“I could look at these pictures for ages,” she mused. “It’s been an important job for us to do and I feel the people come to life in the prints.”
RSL director Drew Wall was also touched when he saw Cherry’s collection in large prints and has expressed his pride to be involved in such an exceptional work.
“It has probably been the most emotional, rewarding and exciting thing I’ve had to do,” he pronounced. “Very rarely do you get to touch history.”
The said photographs – some with the scale of 45×60 cm – will be revealed officially on August 5, 2014 at Maroochy RSL; the date exactly marks WWI’s 100th year anniversary (Australian time) when UK formally announced it was going to war against Germany.