My hard drive is rapidly beginning to fill up with all the World War 1-related programmes, debates and documentaries that are filling our screens!
Did anyone see BBC4’s Hidden Histories last night about the photographs taken at the front (some secretly after a ban on cameras in 1916) by British and German soldiers? Not only officers, but also the ‘rank and file’ took ‘VPK’s’ – ‘Vest Pocket Kodak’s’ with them to the Front.
The programme showed photos taken by both sides, many never seen before in public. You could plainly see how the imagery changed as the reality and horrors of the conflict became more apparent. Two photographs particularly stood out in my mind. The first, a photograph taken by a British soldier of two shells put together to form a cross that marked the grave of the friend he had just buried – the last photograph he took during the war. The other was taken by a German soldier of a tree shattered by a shell. Both of these were incredibly poignant and symbolic.
You really got to see the war through a new perspective – through the eyes of those who fought rather than those commissioned to take ‘official’ photographs.