Royston Leonard /

By Ben Wheeler

BREATH-TAKING photos depicting the agony and ecstasy of the end of First World War have been brought to life in colour for the first time to coincide with the 99th Armistice Day, as Britain remembers those who lost their lives in the conflict.

Among the images are jubilant crowds celebrating the allied forces’ victory and joyful soldiers making the long journey home from the front lines.

Royston Leonard /


However, additional photographs show coffins of fallen British troops being solemnly carried through the streets of London whilst another reveals nurses peacefully laying wreaths in a field of mass graves.

The images were colourised by Cardiff based electrician, Royston Leonard (55), who painstakingly brought them into the 21st century.

“The First World War was the first-time machines took over the battlefield, guns got massive with and both sides raining down shells by the making it hell for troops on the ground to the point where the men just had no hope at all, it was just madness,” he said.

Royston Leonard /


“On the first day of the Somme 60,000 men died and by November when the attack stopped British casualties where about 600,000 and German casualties where about 850,000 men killed or wounded. There was no winner it was just madness taken over the world.

“To this day there is still parts of France that are too dangerous to enter poisoned from 4 years of total war.”

Royston also discussed how long the project of colourising the photos took him as well as his personal relationship with World War One.

Royston Leonard /


“The project has taken me months to do and many, many hours to complete,” he said.

“My grandfather fought in the war and I often asked my father about him, my dad said that all he ever told him was that they moved 100 yards in four years.

“He had the firing pin from his machine gun on the shelf over the fire place in his front room until the day he died.

“To this day it is still such a shame that there was such a total waste of life and what these men had to endure in the face of hell.”

Royston Leonard /


A selection of these images appear in the new book Retrographic by author Michael D. Carroll available on Amazon for £14.97