Historic photos of women volunteers in WW1 have been bought to life for the first time in stunning technicolour, to mark one hundred years since the conflict ended.
Twenty photos have been released by the British Red Cross in tribute to their service for the charity as part of its Women on the Frontline campaign.
“These images are highly unusual for the era.” Said Dr Alasdair Brooks, British Red Cross Heritage Manager. “Most photos we have from this period are formal and posed. These photos show that our volunteers were ordinary people doing extraordinary things to help those in crisis. Seeing them in vivid colour brings home that these volunteers could be any one of us.”
The British Red Cross deployed more than 90,000 volunteers in WWI, most of them women whose stories have never been told.
The roles of these largely unsung heroes included providing first aid, nursing and cooking for those who had returned from the war. Many went above and beyond the call of duty, even offering their own skin for soldiers who had suffered burns and required skin grafts.
However, away from the traumas of war, the photos show a uniquely relaxed side to interactions between volunteers and soldiers – depicting scenes such as the staging of an amateur play.
“It’s been a painstaking but incredibly rewarding process,” said Joanna Wheeler, British Red Cross designer. “It was only when I introduced colour to the images that new details and depths started to emerge and they truly came to life.
“With the help of Photoshop image layers and masks, I manipulated dozens of colours and hues. The skin is the hardest part to get right, as it can require up to 20 layers of pinks, reds and yellows and greens to try and create a natural tone. We also worked closely with the British Red Cross heritage Team to look at colours from historic artefacts to ensure they were as accurate as we could get them.”
The British Red Cross is calling for more people to show the power of kindness and help continue the incredible legacy of its WWI volunteers by signing up to volunteer today.