Sunday, 7 November 2010

The First World War from Above

BBC1 showed this evening a fascinating documentary using archive aerial photography from the First World War to show the extent of the destruction created by the conflict. Film footage from an airship showed in close detail how much damage had been wrought both on the battlefields and towns such as Ypres, which was totally devastated and yet still had people on the ground trying to make some sort of a living. The film also touched upon the efforts needed by Royal Flying Corps pilots to take the photographs (their death rates were higher than soldiers in the trenches) and the work of the tunnellers, who set off massive underground explosions (leaving craters still visible today) to try and gain a military advantage. The size of the 29 simultaneous explosions at Messines, near Ypres, was so great it "rattled the teacups in Downing Street". Highly recommended viewing for this Remembrance Week.

PS: More examples of the photography can be seen here and here. The photo at the top of this post shows a German barracks (identified by the British by the flowerbeds the soldiers had dug to amuse themselves) before and after it was shelled.

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