Now in Color

I don’t know about you, but I tend to think about World War I in black and white. The photos and footage you see is nearly always that way. The History Channel followed up their WWII in Color series with one that did the same for WWI, and while neat it simply colorized previously existing b+w footage.

About six months ago I ran across some actual color photos from WWI. It turns out the French army had a special unit equipped with expensive state-of-the-art (for 1914) cameras and this unit shot some of the only color photos of the war. The Military History Channel has been running an excellent 10-part series (The First World War) based on Hew Strachan’s book of the same name and you can see some of these photos in the credits. The other day I found a site that has a treasure trove of these shots and it is quite cool. You can find it here:

The cameras were rather unwieldy so there are no action shots, but they are quite interesting nonetheless. I particularly like the photos of the French colonial troops because people often forget that it wasn’t just white folks in the trenches. Or that the war didn’t just take place in Western Europe for that matter. That’s one of the reasons I liked the Strachan documentary. It takes the “world” part of the World War I very seriously and dedicates entire episodes to theaters of war that usually get only a brief mention in such shows, if they are talked about at all.

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