Lancashire Fusiliers boat Gallipoli May 1915. Royston Leonard / mediadrumimages.com

By Mark McConville

 

THE GRIM reality of World War One for soldiers across the globe has been brought back to life in a series of vivid colour pictures.

50th Aero Squadron Clermont-en-Argonne Airdrome, France. Date 1918.
Royston Leonard / mediadrumimages.com

 

Incredible images show British soldiers at a captured trench pointing at a sign that says ‘old hun line’, Indian cavalry after their charge at the Somme in 1916, and an Irish soldier in a trench as Mesopotamia.

Indian soldiers in the trenches.
Royston Leonard / mediadrumimages.com

 

Other striking shots show Canadian soldiers in the Battle of Amiens in 1918, the second wave of Russian troops waiting to go over the top in Ukraine in 1917 and the Lancashire Fusiliers on a boat at Gallipoli in 1915.

British soldiers at the old German Front Line, during World War I. In front of a mound and standing in a network of trenches are groups of soldiers, mostly smiling and laughing. They are all wearing large ponchos and the ground is very muddy. One soldier is pointing to a sign which says the ‘old hun line’.
Royston Leonard / mediadrumimages.com

 

The original black and white photographs were painstakingly colourised by Welsh electrician Royston Leonard (56), from Cardiff.

Royston Leonard / mediadrumimages.com

 

“I wanted to show World War One from all parts of the world as most pictures you see are just from the Western front,” he said.

Indian cavalry after their charge, Somme, France, First World War, 14 July 1916.
Royston Leonard / mediadrumimages.com

 

“The images show soldiers from all parts of the world doing their duty and making the best of it.

Royston Leonard / mediadrumimages.com

 

“We need to remember the lost generation from all parts of the world. Look how young they are and realise we can never let this happen again.

Royston Leonard / mediadrumimages.com

 

“We did this twice so I urge you to really look at these images and then the rest is up to you.”

Irish soldier in a trench, Mesopotamia, WW1.
Royston Leonard / mediadrumimages.com

 

World War One was contemporaneously described as the “war to end all wars” and more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilised in one of the largest wars in history.

Canadian soldiers in the Battle of Amiens during the First World War in August 1918.
Royston Leonard / mediadrumimages.com

 

An estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilians died as a direct result of the war, while it is also considered a contributory factor in a number of genocides and the 1918 influenza epidemic, which caused between 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

The Great Nave -Wounded Soldiers Performing Arms Drill at the end of their medical treatment.
Royston Leonard / mediadrumimages.com

 

Military losses were exacerbated by new technological and industrial developments and the tactical stalemate caused by gruelling trench warfare. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history and precipitated major political changes, including the Revolutions of 1917–1923, in many of the nations involved. Unresolved rivalries at the end of the conflict contributed to the start of the Second World War about twenty years later.

Indian soldiers.
Royston Leonard / mediadrumimages.com

 

 

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