History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. ~Winston Churchill

27 May, 2012

Americans in World War Two

Part Two of a Memorial Day weekend series. "Americans in World War Two" is about as broad as you get, and I haven't even tried to encapsulate it; rather I've selected a collection of compelling photographs in the general spirit of remembering those who fought and what they had to go through.

A medic gives blood plasma to a wounded soldier, Sicily, 1943. Source

Wounded soldiers await evacuation on Omaha Beach, France, 1944. Source

Infantrymen firing mortars ( holding their ears as they do) after crossing the Rhine, Germany, 1945. Source

26 May, 2012

Americans in World War One

The start of a three-part series for the Memorial Day weekend. The Americans may have come to the Great War later than many, but their experience was every bit as intense. 

From the LIFE photo archives (though not LIFE magazine, which didn't yet exist), plus one from the Imperial War Museum. 

1917-1918, of course.

A young soldier boarding a train for the Front. Source

American troops lined up in London before being shipped to the front. Source

Troops on the move. Source

25 May, 2012

In Antarctica

We've seen the fantastic colour photographs of Shackleton's Endurance in Antarctica, 1915, but they only skim the surface of photographer Frank Hurley's work in Antarctica. Between 1911 and 1932 he visited the continent six times, accumulating stunning captures of landscapes, people, animals, and expeditions. Today, a selection.

From various Australian institutions on the Flickr Commons (for specifics, see links).

National Library of Australia

The Aurora anchored in Commonwealth Bay, 1911-14. Source

National Library of Australia

Elephant seals and royal penguins, 1911-14. Source

National Maritime Museum

The shore of South Georgia island, 1917. Source

24 May, 2012

Artist Training

A dip into the LIFE mystery photos (ie, those that are uncaptioned, collected only by subject). These come with the heading "Pai. Train. Royal. College. ". So, painters training at the Royal College [of Art, in London] presumably, and that seems to cover it, more or less. A lot of them are from the 20s, based especially on the hair (the majority of the women have very 1920s bobs), although I'm not sure if they were all taken at the same time; some look rather 40s or early 50s. Anyway though, as always with the LIFE mystery photos, the main point is to just enjoy some swell pictures!

23 May, 2012


A stroboscopic photograph is created by using an open shutter, a strobe light, and a moving subject-- each flash of the strobe light creates an exposure on the film of that specific moment in the movement, so the final photograph is a collection of moments in the movement. A master of this technique was photographer Gjon Mili (who we shall return to); today, some of his best. All photographs taken in his own NYC studio, as far as I know.

From the LIFE archives.

Ballerina Nora Kaye does a pas de bourree, 1947. Source

Gene Kelly does a dance sequence, 1944. Source

A little girl skips, 1941. Source

22 May, 2012


A series of photographs following newly repatriated New Zealander prisoners of war as they arrive back in Britain (specifically the town of Margate, Kent, England), April 1945.

From the Imperial War Museum

The New Zealander ex-POWs (NZPOWs, as I shall refer to them) jump from a truck upon arrival at the Grand Hotel in Margate. Source

The men climb the steps of the Grand Hotel, being used as a reception centre. Source

20 May, 2012

Travel by Eurail

The adventures of young student backpackers with Eurail passes, 1970. (many thanks to commenters who've helped identify some of the unnamed locations!)

Photographs from by Carlo Bavagnoli, from the LIFE archives. 

Carlo Bavagnoli, LIFE © Time Inc.

American Eurail backpackers hang out at Amsterdam station, contemplating their next destination. Source

Carlo Bavagnoli, LIFE © Time Inc.

Waiting to get on a Norwegian train. Source

Carlo Bavagnoli, LIFE © Time Inc.

Passport check at the Swiss border. Source

19 May, 2012

The Eye of the Photographer

I've raved about the photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt many a time-- he constantly blows me away with his ability to see and create amazing captures of anything, anywhere. Like, how about these photographs of newly constructed buildings for the 1939 World's Fair in New York?

From the LIFE photo archives. 

18 May, 2012

World War One in (Australian) Colour

We've had colour photographs of World War One in the blog before (here and here)-- French autochromes from the Western Front. But, the French weren't the only ones documenting the war in colour. Australian photographer Frank Hurley (whose colour photographs of Shackleton's Antarctic expedition have also been featured in this blog) took photographs of the Australian forces in the Middle East and at the  Western Front with the Paget Process of colour photography. Fascinating stuff.  

From the collections of the Australian War Memorial. 

Frank Hurley, Australian War Memorial

An Australian Light Horseman collecting anemone flowers in Palestine, c. 1918. Source

Frank Hurley, Australian War Memorial

A derelict British tank at the Somme, 1917 (for the full story of the tank, follow the link). Source

Frank Hurley, Australian War Memorial

Four Australian soldiers with a machine gun, Palestine, 1917. Source

17 May, 2012


From the LIFE archives and various institutions on the Flickr Commons. 

Girls jumping over boys at a sportsground, Sydney, c. 1930s. Source

A socialite jumping on a diving board, California, 1947. Source

A girl jumping in her backyard, Brooklyn, NY, 1886. Source

15 May, 2012

I Love You, California Photochroms

Photochrom series day! California, c. 1900.

From the Library of Congress.

Library of Congress

Alcatraz and the Golden Gate (long before the Bridge), San Francisco. Source

Library of Congress

Glacier Point and South Dome, Yosemite. Source

Library of Congress

Orange Grove Avenue, Pasadena. Source

13 May, 2012

Mother's Day

We had a lovely set of mother and child photographs for UK Mother's Day; today, another set today, for mothers everywhere else.

Happy Mother's Day!

Photographs from the LIFE archive, uncaptioned and undated. 

LIFE archives © Time Inc.

LIFE archives © Time Inc.

LIFE archives © Time Inc.

12 May, 2012

Airplane Art

A variety of squadron, plane, and personal emblems painted onto aircraft in World War Two (mostly). 

From the Imperial War Museum and LIFE archives. 

© IWM (CM 5005)

Wing Commader Ian Gleed in his Spitfire decorated with a cartoon of Figaro the cat batting a swastika, Tunisia, 1943. Source

© IWM (CH 9331)

Pinocchio on a Halifax recieving its latest mission completed symbol. The ice creams are raids on Italian targets and the key represents the plane's twenty-first mission. UK, 1943. Source

Walter Sanders, LIFE © Time Inc. 

A tornado on Capt. Howard Curran's fighter plane, Germany, 1948. Source

Jack Wilkes, LIFE © Time Inc. 

A Gurkha paratrooper in front of a plane with a drawing labelled "Gravel Gertie", apparently. Rangoon, 1945. Source

© IWM (H 9195)

A pin-up painted or glued onto a Hurricane. In 1941 this image was deemed too risque for publication! Scotland. Source

© IWM (TR 1000)

A caricature of the squadron's commanding officer on the nose of an Avro Lancaster, 1943. Source

 © IWM (CE 126)

"Dante's Daughter", an RAF Lancaster, with a 65th raid completed symbol being added. The ice cream symbols represent raids on Italy. c. 1943. Source

© IWM (CM 407)

An insignia made up of emblems for each member of a Vicker Wellington crew, headed by Flying Officer Lemon (of course). Egypt, c. 1942. Source

© IWM (CH 2718)

An RAF soda-syphon spraying bombs on a Vickers Wellington, c. 1940. Source

© IWM (CH 6614)

A train painted on a Handley Page Halifax, with a truck added for each successful mission, c. 1942. Source

© IWM (CBM 1261)

Dumbo painted on the nose of a Liberator, Egypt, 1942. Source

Walter Sanders, LIFE © Time Inc. 

A goggled face on the jet of Major Wallace Frank, Germany, 1948. Source

© IWM (CH 7135)

A dragon emblem on an Avro Lancaster of the RAF, c. 1943. Source

© IWM (TR 978)

A shark face on a Curtiss Kittyhawk of No 112 Squadron RAF, Tunisia, 1943. Source

© IWM (CH 1570)

The wasp emblem on Pilot Officer A V Clows' Hurricane, with a stripe added for each plane he shot down, UK, 1940. Source

© IWM (CH 13734)

Grumpy on a Mitchell, UK, c. 1943. Source

© IWM (CH 1934)

The Burmese flag painted on the Hurricane of Squadron Leader R. R. Stanford Tuck, UK 1941. Source

 © IWM (CM 2531)

Squadron Leader Billy Drake with his Hurricane, painted with his personal emblem "Zut". Sierra Leone, c. 1941. Source

Sam Shere, LIFE © Time Inc.

A bomber pilot with plane named "One Weakness", US, 1945. Source

© IWM (CH 4015)

This has been in the blog before, but I just have to include it again. Squadron Leader J A F MacLachlan lost an arm after being shot down in February 1941; by the summer he was flying again. His Hurricane sports his personal emblem: his lost arm waving the V-sign. I love how he is giving the sign back. UK, 1941-43. Source

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