Moving photos from the First World War are colourised

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  • Photos show smiling British men and boys marching out of the trenches and jumping into trucks to go home
  • Other soldiers have nothing to smile about as they mourn their dead brothers, cousins, fathers and friends
  • Some 700,000 British soldiers were killed in the First World War from 1914-18 out of six million who fought

Charlie Moore For Mailonline

Moving photos from the First World War have been brought to life in colour to coincide with the 99th anniversary of Armistice Day.

They show smiling British men and boys marching out of the trenches and jumping into trucks to make the long journey home from the battlefields.

But other soldiers have nothing to smile about as they mourn their dead brothers, cousins, fathers and friends.

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Stirring: Photos from the end of First World War have been brought to life in colour to coincide with the 99th Armistice Day. Pictured: A crowd of soldiers on the Western Front celebrating as an officer announces the news of the Armistice

Stirring: Photos from the end of First World War have been brought to life in colour to coincide with the 99th Armistice Day. Pictured: A crowd of soldiers on the Western Front celebrating as an officer announces the news of the Armistice

Stirring: Photos from the end of First World War have been brought to life in colour to coincide with the 99th Armistice Day. Pictured: A crowd of soldiers on the Western Front celebrating as an officer announces the news of the Armistice

Happy troops: This colourised image shows New Zealand troops on the Western front laughing and smiling in a trench

Happy troops: This colourised image shows New Zealand troops on the Western front laughing and smiling in a trench

Happy troops: This colourised image shows New Zealand troops on the Western front laughing and smiling in a trench

Victory: This photo shows smiling British men and boys marching out of a trench at captured from the Germans at the Somme. A sign reads 'the old hun line' - referring to where the German front line used to be

Victory: This photo shows smiling British men and boys marching out of a trench at captured from the Germans at the Somme. A sign reads 'the old hun line' - referring to where the German front line used to be

Victory: This photo shows smiling British men and boys marching out of a trench at captured from the Germans at the Somme. A sign reads ‘the old hun line’ – referring to where the German front line used to be

Grief: Other soldiers have nothing to smile about as they mourn their dead brothers, cousins, fathers and friends. As many as 700,000 British men and boys died in the First World War. Pictured: One poignant photo shows the funeral of Sergeant Henry Nicholas, VC, in World War I, France

Grief: Other soldiers have nothing to smile about as they mourn their dead brothers, cousins, fathers and friends. As many as 700,000 British men and boys died in the First World War. Pictured: One poignant photo shows the funeral of Sergeant Henry Nicholas, VC, in World War I, France

Grief: Other soldiers have nothing to smile about as they mourn their dead brothers, cousins, fathers and friends. As many as 700,000 British men and boys died in the First World War. Pictured: One poignant photo shows the funeral of Sergeant Henry Nicholas, VC, in World War I, France

 We will remember them: King George V placing a wreath on the coffin of the Unknown Warrior, at the Cenotaph, on Armistice Day November 11 1920

 We will remember them: King George V placing a wreath on the coffin of the Unknown Warrior, at the Cenotaph, on Armistice Day November 11 1920

 We will remember them: King George V placing a wreath on the coffin of the Unknown Warrior, at the Cenotaph, on Armistice Day November 11 1920

Jubilation: The announcement of armistice brought ecstatic scenes to Philadelphia. This picture was taken on Nov 11, 1918

Jubilation: The announcement of armistice brought ecstatic scenes to Philadelphia. This picture was taken on Nov 11, 1918

Jubilation: The announcement of armistice brought ecstatic scenes to Philadelphia. This picture was taken on Nov 11, 1918

This picture shows nuns laying wreaths in a field of mass graves. The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was around 40million

This picture shows nuns laying wreaths in a field of mass graves. The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was around 40million

This picture shows nuns laying wreaths in a field of mass graves. The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was around 40million

A group of Scottish soldiers wearing kilts smiled for the camera as they prepared to board a truck to head away from the battlefields

A group of Scottish soldiers wearing kilts smiled for the camera as they prepared to board a truck to head away from the battlefields

A group of Scottish soldiers wearing kilts smiled for the camera as they prepared to board a truck to head away from the battlefields

Delight: A group of troops wave their hats as they pose for a camera on the edge of a road next to some hedgerows on Armistice Day

Delight: A group of troops wave their hats as they pose for a camera on the edge of a road next to some hedgerows on Armistice Day

Delight: A group of troops wave their hats as they pose for a camera on the edge of a road next to some hedgerows on Armistice Day

Destruction: This photo shows a bombed out town with collapsing buildings as a lone soldier wanders near a crater. Pictured 24. A gigantic shell crater, 75 yards in circumference, Ypres, Belgium, October 1917

Destruction: This photo shows a bombed out town with collapsing buildings as a lone soldier wanders near a crater. Pictured 24. A gigantic shell crater, 75 yards in circumference, Ypres, Belgium, October 1917

Destruction: This photo shows a bombed out town with collapsing buildings as a lone soldier wanders near a crater. Pictured 24. A gigantic shell crater, 75 yards in circumference, Ypres, Belgium, October 1917

One poignant photo shows the funeral of Sergeant Henry Nicholas, VC, in World War I, France. Another shows nuns laying wreaths in a field of mass graves.

The images were colourised by Cardiff-based electrician, Royston Leonard, 55.

He said: ‘The First World War was the first-time machines took over the battlefield and both sides rained down shells making it hell for troops on the ground to the point where the men just had no hope at all, it was just madness.

Armistice Day 

Armistice Day is commemorated every year on 11 November to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning – the ‘eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month’ of 1918. 

The date was declared a national holiday in many allied nations, and coincides with Remembrance Day and Veterans Day, public holidays. 

700,000 British soldiers were killed in the First World War out of six million who fought. 

Around 700,000 British soldiers were killed in the First World War out of six million who fought. The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War One was around 40million.

Royston also discussed how long the project of colourising the photos took him as well as his personal relationship with World War One.

‘The project has taken me months to do and many, many hours to complete,’ he said.

‘My grandfather fought in the war and I often asked my father about him, my dad said that all he ever told him was that they moved 100 yards in four years.

‘He had the firing pin from his machine gun on the shelf over the fire place in his front room until the day he died.

‘To this day it is still such a shame that there was such a total waste of life and what these men had to endure in the face of hell.’

  • A selection of these images appear in the new book Retrographic by author Michael D. Carroll available on Amazon for £14.97
An old French couple, M. and Mme. Baloux of Brieulles-sur-Bar, France, under German occupation for four years, greeting soldiers of the 308th and 166th Infantry upon their arrival during the American advance 

An old French couple, M. and Mme. Baloux of Brieulles-sur-Bar, France, under German occupation for four years, greeting soldiers of the 308th and 166th Infantry upon their arrival during the American advance 

An old French couple, M. and Mme. Baloux of Brieulles-sur-Bar, France, under German occupation for four years, greeting soldiers of the 308th and 166th Infantry upon their arrival during the American advance 

German soldiers on board a tank which bears the word escapade on the side. Three sit on the top while another leans out of the window

German soldiers on board a tank which bears the word escapade on the side. Three sit on the top while another leans out of the window

German soldiers on board a tank which bears the word escapade on the side. Three sit on the top while another leans out of the window

Scottish troops march with combat gear and rifles slung over their backs as they make their way over a grassy mound during the Battle of the Canal du Nord, 1918

Scottish troops march with combat gear and rifles slung over their backs as they make their way over a grassy mound during the Battle of the Canal du Nord, 1918

Scottish troops march with combat gear and rifles slung over their backs as they make their way over a grassy mound during the Battle of the Canal du Nord, 1918

Over the top: This photo shows Canadian soldiers charging at the enemy during a dawn attack by going over the top of the trenches

Over the top: This photo shows Canadian soldiers charging at the enemy during a dawn attack by going over the top of the trenches

Over the top: This photo shows Canadian soldiers charging at the enemy during a dawn attack by going over the top of the trenches

Canadaian soldiers relax in a captured trench in France. One can be seen attending to his rifle as another smokes a cigarette

Canadaian soldiers relax in a captured trench in France. One can be seen attending to his rifle as another smokes a cigarette

Canadaian soldiers relax in a captured trench in France. One can be seen attending to his rifle as another smokes a cigarette

Devastation: Three soldiers look out across a battlefield where wagons are upturned and destroyed and craters break up the mud

Devastation: Three soldiers look out across a battlefield where wagons are upturned and destroyed and craters break up the mud

Devastation: Three soldiers look out across a battlefield where wagons are upturned and destroyed and craters break up the mud

A group of eight British soldiers stand next to a blown-out building. They smile as they pose for the camera wearing their helmets

A group of eight British soldiers stand next to a blown-out building. They smile as they pose for the camera wearing their helmets

A group of eight British soldiers stand next to a blown-out building. They smile as they pose for the camera wearing their helmets

 Crowds in New York celebrate the end of the First World War. America joined the conflict in 1917

 Crowds in New York celebrate the end of the First World War. America joined the conflict in 1917

 Crowds in New York celebrate the end of the First World War. America joined the conflict in 1917

A German prisoner helps British wounded make their way to a dressing station near Bernafay Wood, following fighting on Bazentin Ridge, July 19, 1916, during the Battle of the Somme

A German prisoner helps British wounded make their way to a dressing station near Bernafay Wood, following fighting on Bazentin Ridge, July 19, 1916, during the Battle of the Somme

A German prisoner helps British wounded make their way to a dressing station near Bernafay Wood, following fighting on Bazentin Ridge, July 19, 1916, during the Battle of the Somme

Captain Benjamin H Geary VC, 1st Battalion, East Surrey Regiment being carried in on a stretcher by prisoner bearers at Achiet-le-Petit. 21 Aug 1918

Captain Benjamin H Geary VC, 1st Battalion, East Surrey Regiment being carried in on a stretcher by prisoner bearers at Achiet-le-Petit. 21 Aug 1918

Captain Benjamin H Geary VC, 1st Battalion, East Surrey Regiment being carried in on a stretcher by prisoner bearers at Achiet-le-Petit. 21 Aug 1918

This photo shows French soldiers at the Battle of Verdun. One sits on the mud as others help the wounded

This photo shows French soldiers at the Battle of Verdun. One sits on the mud as others help the wounded

This photo shows French soldiers at the Battle of Verdun. One sits on the mud as others help the wounded

German officers with an armored car, Ukraine, Spring of 1918. They stand next to the car as they smile for the camera

German officers with an armored car, Ukraine, Spring of 1918. They stand next to the car as they smile for the camera

German officers with an armored car, Ukraine, Spring of 1918. They stand next to the car as they smile for the camera

20th Battery Canadian Field Artillery, Neuville St. Vaast, April 1917. The horse are soaking and laden with gear

20th Battery Canadian Field Artillery, Neuville St. Vaast, April 1917. The horse are soaking and laden with gear

20th Battery Canadian Field Artillery, Neuville St. Vaast, April 1917. The horse are soaking and laden with gear

10. An Australian fatigue party from the 7th Brigade (far left) carrying piles of empty sandbags to the front line through the devastated area near Pozieres, 28 August 1916. The structure is the remains of a German observation post, which stood on the western end of the village and was nicknamed 'Gibraltar' by the Australians

10. An Australian fatigue party from the 7th Brigade (far left) carrying piles of empty sandbags to the front line through the devastated area near Pozieres, 28 August 1916. The structure is the remains of a German observation post, which stood on the western end of the village and was nicknamed 'Gibraltar' by the Australians

10. An Australian fatigue party from the 7th Brigade (far left) carrying piles of empty sandbags to the front line through the devastated area near Pozieres, 28 August 1916. The structure is the remains of a German observation post, which stood on the western end of the village and was nicknamed ‘Gibraltar’ by the Australians