By Alyce Collins
FASCINATING colourised portraits of the many crewmen who have served in the Royal Air Force throughout its history have been released to mark the centenary of the RAF, after it was founded on 1st April 1918.
One of the stunning colourised portraits includes that of Guy Archibald Forrest, who fought in the Boer War as a 3rd Class Trooper, and then in the First World War where he fought in the trenches in 1914. But in 1916 Forrest joined the Royal Flying Corps where he later embarked on a Special Duty Service Flight over Egypt.
After returning to Britain in 1917, Forrest was part of 39 Squadron who intercepted the Zeppelin bombers over London. This earned Forrest the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.
Another portrait shows Flight Lieutenant Richard Harrison standing on the wing of a Mosquito FBV16, at RAF Lüneburg in 1947. The fleet of Mosquito aircraft were instrumental in the Second World War but have since been retired.
The portraits were expertly colourised by British professional photo colouriser and restorer Tom Marshall, from PhotographFix.
“When colourising images, I find a new dimension is added that isn’t often apparent in the original black and white” Tom said.
“I have collated personal family photographs I’ve colourised for over the past few years, to show the ordinary airmen of the RAF in colour for the first time.”
Formed on April 1st, 1918, the RAF was the largest air force in the world at the time as it was a merger of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS).
One of the portraits that Tom colourised is of his Great Grandad, Charles Martin King Parsons who was a chaplain during the Second World War in 1945.
“He entered Bergen Belsen during the liberation of the camp where he took a series of photos of ‘Hell on Earth’ which Holocaust museums across the world now include in their archives.
“Parsons was promoted to 2nd Lt. in the RAF in April 1920, hence the RAF wings on his chaplaincy uniform.”
Tom’s collection of colourised portraits are personal family photographs that he has collected in the hopes to show the ordinary heroes of war who have given their lives to the Royal Air Force.
“I hope this collection of photos highlights a few of the unknown faces from the history of the RAF and is a way for their stories to be heard and seen by new generations.
“Happy Birthday to the Royal Air Force, and here’s to the next 100 years!”