By Rebecca Drew
STUNNING restored black and white images reveal the quirky side to German life in the trenches of WW1.
The eye-opening series of images show the bare bottoms of a group of men using an outdoor communal toilet, men standing around an overturned crashed plane and men standing poised to repel an air attack with weapons.
Other photographs show German soldiers in white coats to camouflage into their snowy surroundings.
The spectacular photos from the European battlefields of the Great War have been restored by police officer, Brett Butterworth (48) from Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia.
“My collection consists exclusively of German postcards, because of their availability, many with letters written on the reverse by soldiers appearing in the front of the photograph,” said Brett.
“The scenes vary from ordinary studio portraits, crashed aircraft, trench life to rare views of Germany’s A7V tanks and flamethrower pioneers.
“I must add that each letter has been generously translated by my dear friends Professor O. Knorr and Ulrich Biroth, without their assistance, many interesting and poignant stories would never be told.
“I often ponder whether some photographs in my collection are the only record left in existence, the last shred of evidence that a particular person walked on the face of the earth, this is what now inspires me to keep growing and sharing my collection.”
Brett says that he became involved in collecting and restoring old photographs by accident when he was selling militaria online after being amazed by the amount of detail he could gather from each scene.
“I sourced a suitable postcard from a dealer in Germany and after scanning the image at a reasonably high resolution I was astounded at the amount of detail I was able to discern in the scene,” explained Brett.
“For example, I was able to make out the name of the newspaper resting on a table in the foreground, at this point I was captivated and ended up exchanging my modest collection of militaria for a not so modest collection of postcards.
“Most of the postcards in my collection arrive at my home having survived two world wars and in dire need of some form of restoration to bring them up to a suitable standard for display on Flickr.
“I am self-taught and have had no formal training in photo-restoration as I am sure a professional restorer can tell.
“I want to create a sort of homage to the individuals appearing in the pictures, many of whom are appearing on photographic paper for the last time.
“Visitors to my collection often comment they are moved by the expressions on the faces of the soldiers appearing in the photographs.
“If they pause for even just a second to reflect on a life that might have been, my mission is accomplished.”