Photo Essay: World War I remastered and in color

BY Travis Daub  August 6, 2014 at 6:19 PM EDT
Members of the 1st Australian Imperial Force at a camp in Australia around 1916. Photo from State Library of South Australia/the Open University

Members of the 1st Australian Imperial Force at a camp in Australia around 1916. Photo from State Library of South Australia/the Open University

For the 100th anniversary of the “war to end all wars,” a team at the Open University in the United Kingdom has been searching through photo archives around the world to find unique and significant images of the conflict. The university hired a photo restoration specialist to restore and color a handful of images. Here’s a sneak peek.

Photo from the London Transport Museum. Restoration by the Open University

Photo from the London Transport Museum. Restoration by the Open University

Homing pigeons provided critical communications to and from the front, so the British forces developed traveling pigeon lofts built onto the back of busses. For more on the role pigeons played during the conflict, don’t miss Smithsonian Magazine’s “Closing The Pigeon Gap.”

Photo from the State Library of South Australia. Restoration by the Open University

Photo from the State Library of South Australia. Restoration by the Open University

Kids pitch in during a fundraising drive for the Red Cross in Adelaide, Australia. The Red Cross was founded in 1881 by Clara Barton in Washington, D.C., but grew by leaps and bounds during the Great War. In 1914 the aid organization had only 17,000 members. By 1918, membership grew to 20 million.

Photo from The British Library. Restoration by the Open University

Photo from The British Library. Restoration by the Open University

Photo from the Canadian Library and Archive. Restoration by the Open University

Photo from the Canadian Library and Archive. Restoration by the Open University

Chemical weapons were a threat to human and animal alike. Above, Indian infantry wear protective masks in trenches in 1915. Below, a member of the Canadian Veterinary Corps and his horse model protective masks.

Photo from The British Library. Restoration by the Open University

Photo from The British Library. Restoration by the Open University


Personal comforts were few for soldiers in the trenches. Above, a soldier gets a haircut from a barber on the Albanian front.

Photo from the State Library of South Australia. Restoration by the Open University

Photo from the State Library of South Australia. Restoration by the Open University

Pvt. Cleveland Frank Snoswell is welcomed home to Adelaide, Australia, at the end of the war. More than 60,000 Australians died in World War I, out of more than 400,000 who served.

View all of the restored images at the Open University.