The Battlefields of the First World War
The Unseen Panoramas of the Western FrontBook - 2005
The first publication of a unique, unseen collection of over 500 panoramic photographs of the Western Front. Here are the great battlegrounds of the First World War as you have never seen them before, from the First Battle of Ypres where gallant men on horseback find things do not go to plan to the closing horror of the mud at Passchendaele. The book showcases the most eye-opening panoramas, along with poignant personal photographs and the recollections of the soldiers caught in action in the battles shown.
These panoramic photographs were the nearest thing to satellite mapping in their day, taken by the British Royal Engineers for intelligence purposes thoughout the war. The photographers had to spend tens of minutes with their head above the parapet - a view normally seen by the troops only through a trench periscope. Many of the images give a field of view of up to 160 degrees, and so sharp that individual figures - a soldier picking lice on his shirt, a sniper lying in wait - can be made out.
The images cover the whole of the Western Front, end to end. For the general buyer they have an impact unlike anything seen before. For the specialist, they document a lost world, putting other forms of archive into temporal, topographical and geographical context. What they reveal challenges existing perceptions of the First World War. As well as tortured landscapes of featureless mud, they also show fields of flowers, beaches, churches still standing. There are desperate scenes for sure, but an important lesson is that much of the war was fought in a real, recognizable landscape.