world-war-i-color-photo-railcar-seige-gun

Photo Gallery: World War I in Color

If there is one conflict that did more than any other to forever vanquish the notion of warfare as a noble and brave pursuit, it was World War I. The Great War, as it was widely referred to until World War II, had an deep and lasting psychological impact on not just the combatants, but on society in general. It was the first war to be fought with mass-produced, mechanized tools of destruction such as tanks, war planes, U-boats, flamethrowers, and cannons of enormous size and range.

The lasting images of World War I have been almost entirely in bleak, grainy black and white, which have only served to enhance the images of death and despair. But there exists film and photographs in color that allow us to view World War I as more real and something almost contemporary. Even the most mundane of them are absolutely riveting.

Most of the extant photos from WWI were taken by the French army, which makes sense given that the process used for them was invented by the Lumière brothers (Auguste and Louis).

(Many of these images were sourced from the fantastic World War I Color Photos site.)


North African soldiers near the Western Front

North African soldiers near the Western Front (Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud)

French army railcar seige gun

French army railcar seige gun, village of Noyon, Oise, France – 1917

A soldier of the Australian Light Horse Brigade gathers anemones

A soldier of the Australian Light Horse Brigade gathers anemones – Palestine, 1918 (Frank Hurley)

French soldiers in the frontline trenches

French soldiers in the frontline trenches – Haut-Rhin, France, June 16th, 1917

French biplane

French biplane – Soissons, Aisne, France, 1917

French church and well

French church and well – Haut-Rhin, France, June 22, 1917

Two soldiers stand looking at the body of a fallen comrade

Two soldiers stand looking at the body of a fallen comrade

Group of nurses, doctors and soldiers at hospital 66.

Group of nurses, doctors and soldiers at hospital 66. Bourgourg, north France, Sept. 1, 1917.

Duckboards with soldiers resting.

Duckboards with soldiers resting.

Four French gunners in the ruins

Four French gunners in the ruins. Soissons, Aisne, France, 1917.

Three injured soldiers at Hôpital Saint-Paul

Three injured soldiers at Hôpital Saint-Paul. Soissons, Aisne, France, 1917.

Tombs of the soldiers killed on May 14th in Laffaux.

Tombs of the soldiers killed on May 14th in Laffaux. Soissons, Aisne, France, 1917.

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  • Amy

    I have a stereoscope and 4 original boxes of glass slides of very explicit WWI photos, many taken in the trenches of French soldiers, bombed buildings, etc. Each box has a sticker that reads Lumiere and Jougla . The photos are amazing in their clarity and i handle them with reverence given their content. Anything that you can tell me about these glass slides would be very much appreciated.

    • http://www.grayflannelsuit.net Chris Holmes

      That sounds like a fantastic collection. Unfortunately I am not really qualified to speak about things like that. I would recommend perhaps contacting a local museum or something like that. If nothing else they may be able to advise on the proper way to store them.