The World War I photos showing life in the trenches are featured in Jon Wilkinson’s new book, The Great War Illustrated in Colour, which illustrates the hearbreaking reality of the war in detail. Included among the images are the main assault ships used by the Royal Navy as well as soldiers’ bodies seen strewn in trenches and troops moving to attack British forces.
Wilkinson explained the motivation behind colorizing the images, noting: “I hope to project to the readers what these soldiers would have seen with their own eyes. Adding color takes the reader back to these places and gives them a sense of what it would have been like.”
He added: “Various items that litter the trenches such as bullets, pocket watches, rifle bolts and even fragments of clothing can be colorised as otherwise they could have been lost in a black and white image.”
According to the Daily Mail, “The book highlights details of the disastrous naval Zeebrugge Raid of 1918 and show the intimidating sight of the main assaults used by the Royal Navy in the First World War, overseen by Vice Admiral Sir Roger Keyes, HMS Vindictive which was used to damage the stone Mole at Zeebrugge and sinking the smaller ships in the channels at Ostend.”
One image shows the HMS Vindictive, highlighting constructed gangplanks used to lower the naval officers, while other photos provide an aerial view of the 1918 Zeebrugge Raid, which was the Royal Navy’s attempt to blockade the Belgian port of Bruges-Zeebrugge.
Among those who commented on the Daily Mail‘s coverage of the book was one person with military experience, who wrote: “Wars!! They solve NOTHING and after 14 years service, involved with conflicts all over this tiny little world of ours in the name of politics, religion and humanity… I like many, carry physical and mental scars around ‘In the name of humanity.’ Sent to places we really didn’t want to go, to do the bidding of our politicians and those who sit at the top of the tree. I see them every day on the news, the paper and general media.”
They added: “If I could turn back time and take those whom sat at the top of the tree then, to the root level where we wallowed. I wonder, would they really want to start a war? The soldiers at the grass root level have no say, just a duty to follow orders on a SWORN OATH of the ones at the top of the tree and when they come home, they expect us to be normal. ‘Fit in’ and do they help our guys to ‘fit in’? I think you all know the answer to that.”
Some commenters weren’t impressed with the colorized images, with one person remarking: “I disagree with the absolute need for color. Black and white pics bring home many stories with a unique atmosphere, especially that of ‘in times gone by.’ Color is okay but not critical. BTW, the best photo I ever saw was the winner of a photo competition, and it was monochrome.”