100 Years On: Passchendaele in Colour

Posted on Friday 28th July 2017

100 Years On: Passchendaele in Colour

(July 2017, written by Tom Marshall)

Just over a year ago I published a blog of photos taken during the battle of the Somme in 1916. This week marks the centenary of another famous and bloody battle of the First World War, the Battle of Passchendaele, which began on 31st July 1917.

The battle took place on the Western Front, from July until November 2017 for control of the ridges south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres in West Flanders.

Officially known as the Third Battle of Ypres, Passchendaele became infamous not only for the scale of casualties, but also for the mud. Shelling between the two sides had destroyed the drainage systems that were keeping the reclaimed marshland dry, meaning that men and horses drowned in some of the worst conditions of the war.

The British lost an estimated 275,000 casualties at Passchendaele to the German’s 220,000, making it one of the war’s most costly battles of attrition.

The more populous Allies could better afford the losses, especially with the recent entry of the United States on their side, but the battle had delivered a blow to the collective morale of the British Expeditionary Force. Passchendaele, often remembered as the low point of the British war effort, remains synonymous with the terrible and costly fighting on the Western Front.

I have chosen a handful of photos to illustrate the living and fighting conditions of British and Commonwealth troops, from Canada, Australia and New Zealand. I decided to colourise these images as a tribute to the men pictured, because I believe that colour adds another dimension to historic images, and helps modern eyes to connect with the subjects, more than with a black and white photo.

I have found that black and white images are too often sadly ignored, especially by younger generations, and by colourising the photos, I hope that more people will stop to learn more about the subjects and what the men went through 100 years ago.

The information accompanying the photos comes from the National Library of Scotland's website and other online sources.


A British soldier talks to a local farm worker.


New Zealanders walking wounded at the Battle of Broodseinde ridge, the most successful Allied attack of Passchendaele. A YMCA NZ stall just behind the lines allowed the men to get something to drink.


Men of the 6th Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, resting beneath a tarpaulin, Ypres-Comines Canal, 1 October 1917.


A soldier of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry washing clothes in an Officer's canvas bath, Ypres-Comines Canal, 1 October 1917.


Men of the 8th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry playing cards near Ypres, 1 October 1917.


Troops moving at Eventide. Men of a Yorkshire regiment on the march. This photo was taken by Ernest Brooks.


New Zealand soldiers in the Ypres Salient. I was commissioned to colourise this particular image for the cover for 'Passchendaele: The Day by Day Account' by Chris McCarthy.


British officers in a German trench, Messines, Belgium, 1917. Three officers stand outside the mouth of the trench whilst one sits on top of it and one stands inside it. They all appear happy or relaxed, presumably as they have just captured a German trench and all the supplies in it.


Royal Garrison Artillery gunners pushing a light railway truck filled with shells, behind Zillebeke, 1 October 1917.


Soldiers build a new dug-out as they advance.


An 18 pounder gun being hauled through the mud at Broodseinde Ridge to a position further forward, in support of the advancing Australians, two days before the initial attack on Passchendaele Ridge, in the Ypres sector.

Identified, left of the gun, left to right: Gunner (Gnr) W E Drummond Gnr J Brannon (to Drummond's right) Gnr C V Cox (in front of Brannon) two men unidentified behind Cox 34401 Gnr A Hewitt (in front of Cox) Dvr A C Sampson (standing on wheel, back to camera) Gnr G G Dowling (foreground, pulling rope on front wheel)

Right side of gun, left to right: Dvr Hughes Dvr F Peace unidentified unidentified Bombardier T (R ?) Garniss Sergeant W Reynolds (extreme right, standing back).

All colourised images © Tom Marshall (PhotograFix) 2017.

Tom is a regular contributor to WW1 Colourised Photos, a community of colourisers from around the world who bring the First World War to life in colour. We highly recommend taking a look at their Facebook page.

To see more of his colourised photos, please follow PhotograFix on Facebook and Twitter.

www.photogra-fix.com / www.facebook.com/PhotograFixUK
Mr Tom Marshall

PhotograFix, the home of professional photo colouriser Tom Marshall B.A. (Hons). I am currently based in Melton Mowbray (Leicestershire), but have previously been based in Glasgow, Scotland, Much Wenlock (Shropshire) and the Cotswolds. I deal with clients worldwide and have had the pleasure of working with some of the world's leading museums, photo archives and publishers, including The Open University, The National Museum of Ireland, Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, The British Army, Uniform Press, The Irish Independent Archives, and the Doyle Collection.

My colourising work has been featured worldwide, including on the BBC, in The Times, The Daily Mail, The Scotsman, The Irish Examiner, The Daily Express, Irish Independent, Metro, The Daily Mirror, The Sun, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, War History Online, Warfare Magazine, Argunners Magazine, PetaPixel, The Vintage News, The Daily Record, and on PBS, Notts TV and RTÉ.

I also enjoy working with many private clients and it's always a privilege to handle personal photographs, and to learn more about the stories that they have to tell.

If you have photos you would like me to colourise, or photos that need restoration and repair, please get in touch via the contact page. You can view examples of my work on the portfolio page, and read the stories behind the photos by visiting my blog. You can also purchase prints of some of my pieces by visiting the shop,

This site is also home to my other passion, the comedy films of Will Hay. Find out more about the Will Hay Appreciation Society here.

Please don't hesitate to get in touch via the contact page, or on Facebook and Twitter.


Further Reading

The Road to Passchendaele
(Hardback - 392 pages)
ISBN: 9781473891906

by Richard van Emden
Only £25.00

Passchendaele is the next volume in the highly-regarded series of books from the best-selling First World War historian Richard van Emden. Once again, using the winning formula of diaries and memoirs, and above all original photographs taken on illegally-held cameras by the soldiers themselves, Richard tells the story of 1917, of life both in and out of the line culminating in perhaps the most dreaded battle of them all, the Battle of Passchendaele. His previous book, The Somme, has now sold nearly 20,000 copies in hardback and softback, proving that…
Read more at Pen & Sword Books...

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