In honour of World War I’s centenary this year, The Open University has “colourised” a sample of select photos from the conflict with the help of a photograph restoration expert.
The photos, which were originally in black and white, feel jarringly current when colourised. World War I began 100 years ago — but these photos are a reminder that one of the worst and seemingly most inexplicable conflicts in history isn’t quite as far off as it might seem.
The conflict, which killed over nine million people and affected almost ever corner of the globe, began on July 28, 1914. Thought of as the “war to end all wars,” World War I marked a number of firsts in military conflict, including the use of planes, tanks, and chemical weapons.
Trench warfare was one of the hallmarks of World War I.
Soldiers could spend the majority of their deployments in the trenches. Here, a soldier receives a haircut from a barber on the Albanian front.
Here, a German Field Artillery crew poses with its gun at the start of the war in 1914.
Trenches provided no protection against the deployment of chemical weapons. Here, a Canadian soldier poses with his horse while wearing a gas mask at the Canadian Army Veterinary Corps Headquarters.
Fearing a gas attack, Indian infantry soldiers don their masks while taking position in a trench.
Chemical weapons represented a fearsome technological advance on the battlefield — but carrier pigeons, carried by mobile pigeon lofts, were still used to transport messages back to headquarters from the front lines.
World War I was truly a global conflict. These soldiers were members of the 1st Australian Imperial Force, and are pictured here at a military base in their home country.
Soldiers from the Canadian infantry pose with their unit’s animal mascot — the pets were a common means of boosting morale in the midst of an unimaginably violent conflict.
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