Grim reality of WW1 is brought to life in 100 colourised images to mark centenary

An explosion taking place on the Somme. According to the existing caption it is a controlled explosion set up by the Royal Engineers, to clear the way for the advance. A uniformed soldier, possibly a member of the Royal Engineers, sits on a wooden post watching the explosion 


  • Black and white photographs were painstakingly colourised to mark the war’s 100th anniversary
  • The poignant process to bring images back to life was carried out by Tom Marshall of PhotograFix 

A British soldier helps a wounded German prisoner walk along a railway track at some point in 1916. The poignant photograph shows both the horrors and humanity of war. The number of soldiers imprisoned reached a little over 7,000,000, of whom around 2,400,000 were held by German forces

Egyptian Expeditionary Force soldiers pose in front of the Great Sphinx, its broken nose visible in the background, and pyramids of Giza in Egypt during a break from conflict, which was fought between Britian, France and Russia and the Ottoman Empire from 1914 to 1918

A group of men from the Royal Regiment of Artillery, photographed alongside a long-barrelled field gun, 1916. For the occasion, they have chalked the words, ‘Somme gun’ on the side of the barrel. The men are well wrapped with non-uniform scarves, gloves and a balaclava. In purely military terms, the heavy artillery of both sides was in many ways more important than any other weapon. It could fire into the opposing trenches with little risk to their own side and could effectively keep the enemy in the trenches 

Soldiers, probably from the 12th Battalion, the East Surrey Regiment, in a British communication trench in Ploegsteert Wood, during the Battle of Messines, 11th June 1917. Trench warfare was harsh on all sides, with disease and cramped conditions making it particularly hard

This photograph shows a group of soldiers standing in the entrance to a dugout. Other men are outside, standing beside a washing line with towels on it. A pot is steaming on a brazier made of a tin drum. The cap and collar badges of the men are not distinct but appear to vary, suggesting they are from more than one unit. This rather domestic scene appears well removed from the reality of the trenches at the Front. It may have been intended to counter criticism of the campaign by implying that it was better organised than was the case 

King George V sitting next to an army commander in Thiepval, France on the site where Thiepval Chateau once stood. The army commander to his right is pointing into the distance and, according to the original caption, recounting the capture of Thiepval, which took place in September 2016

A horse and soldier transporting boots. The path is inches deep in wet mud discernible by the deep imprint round the soldiers boot and the fact that the horses hooves are no longer visible. Rather than cloth puttees though he is wearing long lace-up boots. The horse is absolutely laden with rubber trench waders. Horses, due to their reliability and ability to travel over most terrains were crucial to transportation during WW1 

The grim reality of the First World War has been remembered in a series of 100 colourised images to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the conflict.

The incredible images include one of Royal Garrison Artillery gunners pushing a light railway truck filled with shells in 1917 and a British soldier helping a wounded German prisoner walk along a railway track in 1916.

In another poignant photograph, British officers standing outside the mouth of a German trench in Messines, Belgium, in 1917 after capturing it.

Other striking pictures show King George V sitting next to an army commander in Thiepval, France on the site where Thiepval Chateau once stood.

A soldier receives a haircut from an Alpine barber on the Albanian front and a group of Irish soldiers recuperating with nurses in 1917 in another fascinating insight into the realities of war a hundred years ago.

The original black and white photographs were painstakingly colourised by Tom Marshall of PhotograFix to mark the 100th anniversary of World War One ending.

‘I began colourising black and white photos professionally in 2014, coinciding with the centenary of the outbreak of WW1 in 1914,’ he said.

This photo is from the first Zeppelin raid on Britain, which took place on 19th January 1915. Two Zeppelins appeared over East Anglia. Zeppelin L 3 bombed Great Yarmouth and later Zeppelin L 4 appeared over King’s Lynn. This photo is reported to show Mr Fayers who lived at 11 Bentinck Street, King’s Lynn. A bomb exploded on 12 Bentinck Street, killing 14-year-old Percy Goate. His parents and 4-year-old sister survived 

A soldier receives a haircut from an Alpine barber on the Albanian front in the middle of a trench in an undated photo. Pictured in the background is the bags of sand which were used to create the interior walls of the trenches that stretched across battlefields

On 22nd May 1915, the Quintinshill rail disaster occurred near Gretna Green, Scotland at Quintinshill on the Caledonian Railway Main Line linking Glasgow and Carlisle. The crash, which involved five trains, killed a probable 226 and injured 246 and remains the worst rail crash in British history in terms of loss of life. Those killed were mainly Territorial soldiers from the 1/7th (Leith) Battalion, the Royal Scots heading for Gallipoli

RMS Lusitania, a British ocean liner and briefly the world’s largest passenger ship. It was sunk on 7 May 1915 by a German U-boat. The sinking would eventually lead to the United States entering the conflict as it declared war on Germany in 1917

Soldiers after crossing the River Somme. According to the photograph’s original caption these soldiers are the first to have crossed the River Somme. Some of them are clambering up a temporary walkway. Others in the background manage to scramble up the embankment. The foreground is littered with debris

Damage in the yard of the home of vet and blacksmith Mr T.H. Walden in East Street off Albert Street, King’s Lynn, following a Zeppelin raid which took place on 19th January 1915. Despite the huge amount of damage caused by the bomb, the whole family – mother, father and three children – escaped with their lives. Next door, however, three of the four occupants suffered injury but only one needed hospital treatment 

Canadian cyclists pose for a photograph at some point during the conflict. Quiet and stealthy, the bicycle covered just as much ground as a horse, but required far less care and attention, making the cyclists effective messengers in the theatre of war

Irish soldiers of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers prepare to go to war. This picture was taken at Collins Barracks, Dublin in 1915. The original black and white photographs were painstakingly colourised to mark the 100th anniversary of World War One ending

A group of Irish soldiers recuperating with nurses c1917. Pictured are two different nursing organisations, the Territorial Force Nursing Service (TFNS) and the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS). The TFNS wore a blue grey cape with a scarlet trim, and just visible on the uniforms of the nurses to the left of the image is a small silver ‘T’ which defines them as such

A female British munitions worker makes shells for the soldiers fighting at the front during the First World War. The advancement in women’s rights in Europe is traced by many historians to this period, as thousands of women experienced working for the first time. This was exacerbated even further two decades later, during the Second World War

Soldiers demonstrating the correct use of gas masks, intended to show stages in adjustment of a Small Box Respirator (SBR). The photograph, brought to life in stunning colour for the first time, was taken on the battlefield at some point in 1916 

An interior view of the dugout occupied by officers of the 105th Howitzer Battery in Flanders, Ypres on 27th August 1917. Left to right: Captain Leslie Russell Blake MC Polar Medal (died of wounds on 3rd October 1918), Lieutenant David Ballantyne Ikin and Major Herbert Norman Morris. The three are shown as they look throw photographs from back home

Royal Garrison Artillery gunners pushing a light railway truck filled with shells, behind Zillebeke, 1st October 1917. In the distance, smoke can be seen rising in the air as fighting continues throughout the area, which is scarred from conflict 

New Zealand soldiers take a break from action, with some grabbing a bite to eat while others observe the scene surrounding them, in the Ypres Salient. Broken trees are dotted around the area from endless flak being dropped by both sides 

New Zealanders walking wounded at the Battle of Broodseinde ridge, the most successful Allied attack of Passchendaele. A YMCA stall just behind the lines allowed the men to get something to drink 

British soldiers in a German trench, Messines, Belgium, 1917. Three officers stand outside the mouth of the trench whilst one sits on top of it and one stands inside it. They all appear happy or relaxed, presumably as they have just captured a German trench and all the supplies in it

A B-type bus converted into a pigeon loft enabling messages to be sent from the front line back to headquarters. It is understood by military historians that 100,000 carrier pigeons were used as messengers throughout the Great War and records show they delivered 95 per cent of their messages correctly.

The final resting place of Zeppelin LZ 59 (known as L20), known as the Raider of Loughborough, after her part in an attack on the English Midlands. On 31st January 1916 nine airships, including L20, left Germany and Denmark in order to attack the docks at Liverpool, which would have shocked the British public due to the long range of the attack

A shell bursts off the beach of Gallipoli, 1915. The caption on the original image was written by Dr. Andrew Horne of the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), from Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, Ireland 

North African soldiers enjoy lunch possibly on farming leave in El Kseur. Note the khaki style uniforms issued to Algerian units. Stood at the back is Charles Djalma Moucan 

An unknown soldier from ‘A’ Squadron, the North Irish Horse Regiment on horseback, photographed at Vignacourt, France. Pictured in the backgroud is a group of fascinated youngsters admiring the soldier and his steed

Men of the 8th Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry playing cards near Ypres, 1st October 1917. The men can be seen laughing and joking during downtime in what was one of the bloodiest wars in history

Soldiers inspect a garden and destroyed cherry tree, following a raid made by a single German aeroplane on Colchester on 21st February 1915. The bomb landed in the back garden of 41 Butt Road, the home of Quartermaster-Sergeant Rabjohn of 20th Hussars and his family. Rabjohn, his wife and their child escaped injury

Artillery stripped trees and a signboard pointing the way for pack transport. The other-worldliness of this ravaged landscape at Courcelette, shrouded in clouds of dust or smoke, leaves a lasting impression. The foreground is littered with many objects, including an abandoned carriage and a sign stating ‘pack transport this way’

A group of Indian soldiers armed in a trench, 1915. The hoods they are wearing are gas masks; the First World War was the first war in which manufactured poison gas was used as a weapon on a large scale. The men’s eyes were covered with a mesh allowing them to aim their weapons

Horses pull makeshift sleds through the mud. The animals provided a serious amount of versatility towards the war effort of each military power. The strong animals were used to cart munitions and materials around battlefields, while officers also rode them during combat in some cases

Soldiers from the 1st Australian Imperial Force, shown at a military base in their home country around 1916. From a population of fewer than five million, 416,809 men from Australia enlisted, of whom more than 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded

Soldiers of the Siamese Transport Corps, in the village of Geinsheim, Neustadt, Germany in 1918. The Siamese saw front line action in the middle of September 1918, shortly before the end of the war. When this photo was taken, Siamese troops were contributing to the occupation of the Rhineland, and took over control of the town of Neustad 

Soldiers build a new dug out as they advance. By the end of 1914, both sides had built a series of trenches that stretched from the North Sea through Belgium and France. As a result, neither side gained much ground for three and a half years from 1914 to 1918

An army chaplain conducts a burial service while a burial party stand, paying their respects, at the Battle of Guillemont, 4th September 1916. Thousands of men were buried where they fell during the conflict, leading to mass war graves across Europe

Men of the 177 Tunneling Company Royal Engineers are pictured posing for a photograph among the wreckage of a town somewhere on mainland Europe

Irish Soldiers and civilians outside Collins Barracks, Dublin. The barracks was an army base for some 200 years before being renovated for use as a museum

Royal Dublin Fusiliers opening provisions, including Fray Bentos tinned meat and Jacob’s Biscuits. Taken at Collins Barracks, Dublin in 1915

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