Australian 4th Division field artillery brigade on a duckboard passing through Chateau Wood, near Hooge in the Ypres salient, 29 October 1917. Paul Reynolds /

By Mark McConville

THE BRUTAL reality of World War One has been brought to life in a series of stunning yet emotional colourised images from one of the world’s most devastating conflicts.

Review at Camp Devens. Paul Reynolds /

Striking shots show stretcher bearers struggling through the mud at the Battle of Passchendaele, Men of the 8th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment going to the frontline during the Third Battle of Ypres and women making fake heads to help sniper’s calculations at the front.

Stretcher bearers struggling through the mud near Boesinghe, August 1, 1917. Paul Reynolds /

Other vivid colour snaps show Australian 4th Division field artillery brigade on a duckboard passing through Chateau Wood, an Airborne Soldier in action with Sten Gun at Arnhem, Netherlands and Canadians wounded at the Battle of Passchendaele.

Men of the 8th Batallion, East Yorkshire Regiment going up to the line near Frezenberg during the Third Battle of Ypres, 1917, 5 October 1917. Paul Reynolds /

The original black and white photographs were painstakingly colourised by design engineer Paul Reynolds (48), from Birmingham, UK.

“I mostly colourise war photos because each photo usually has a story to tell, stories of real everyday people,” he said.

Battle of Vimy Ridge. Paul Reynolds /


“I think colourising detailed photos really brings them to life. You notice detail that usually gets missed due to the monotone background.

“The content of the photo conveys its own message; however I am glad that by colourising these photos more people are aware of the happenings of WWII.”

Army Rangers are shown armed with sub-machine guns while on campaign during the First World War. Paul Reynolds /


Paul explained how he added colour to the old photographs and the problems he ran into along the way.

“I use a digital pen and pad and basically layer on the colour as you would with a painting,” he said.

Australian infantry, small box respirators at The First World War, Battle of Ypres, 1916. Paul Reynolds /


“I’ve painted from an early age so this transition to digital was quite easy for me. The only problems I come across are the condition of the photos especially private commissions.

“Most are torn, folded, creased, water damaged, dust spots and discoloured which then has to be digitally repaired with a brush, this process usually takes longer than the paint, but the finished photo is 100% sharper and more pleasing on the eye.”

John M Browning and Mr Burton, the Winchester expert on rifles, discussing the finer points of the Browning Light Gun at the Winchester Plant, c1918. Paul Reynolds /

Striking images like these are featured in British author Michael D. Carroll’s new book, Retrographic on the colourisation of historical images. It is available on Amazon now for £13.50.

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