Memories in Colour: Bringing the past to life

This year’s VE Day marks a special anniversary, as it’s 75 years since the Second World War ended in Europe. After years of carnage, destruction, austerity and rationing, the message that people had been longing to hear was delivered by Winston Churchill on 8 May 1945 - the war was finally over. 

The 75th anniversary of VE Day allows us to reflect on and remember all the people who fought in the war with courage and determination, and who made huge sacrifices at home and abroad during a terrifying and uncertain time for all. 

We asked you to send in your old photographs of loved ones from World War Two, as photos allow us to reflect and remember the past while telling a story. To give these old black and white photos a new lease of life, we carefully colourised and restored each one.

The stories behind the photos...

Sergeant Douglas Phillips

Douglas was part of Operation Harling, a WW2 mission by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). He was tasked with destroying one of three railway viaducts in Greece and the mission was a major success. Sadly Douglas later died in Greece.

Edward Lovegrove

Edward was born in 1903 and lived in Ealing. During WW2 he drove tanks in North Africa. This photograph was taken at Christmas in 1942 and Edward sent it to his wife who was at home with their baby. Their two older children had been evacuated. 

Edward survived the war and many years later, he persuaded his son-in-law to let him drive his car - he had driven a tank after all. However, his son-in-law said it was one of the most terrifying experiences of his life and never let Edward drive the car again!

Edward Martin

Edward was from Chepstow and stood at a towering 6’7’’, earning him the nickname ‘Tiny.’ During WW2, Edward fought in Dunkirk but was wounded and captured. He spent the rest of the war as a prisoner.

Ken West

Before the war began, Ken West was in the Territorial Army and had worked in the printing industry. He was from Reading but joined the Durham Light Infantry as a junior officer with his main skill being map-making. 

Ken was involved in resisting the Japanese advance into India during the summer of 1944 and had some involvement in the Battle of Kohima. Subsequently, Ken advanced with the British into Burma and at some point, he contracted malaria and was invalided out of the army. He was sent back home in the middle of 1945 and married his wife in December that year.

William Mascall

William first enlisted in the army aged 16 and served in the Dardanelles (Turkey). It was during this time that he picked up an infection which resulted in him being sent to a hospital ship. The matron deemed William to be too young and he was sent back home to England. 

Upon arrival, William re-enlisted in the army, this time as a signaller for artillery. It is believed he was stationed in Hamburg until all the troops were recalled. William managed to survive the war and passed away in 1989.

Eric Rubin

Eric Rubin was part of the Survey Regiment between 1940-46 and this photo was taken at the beginning of June 1944. Eric was getting ready to be parachuted into enemy territory in France just before D-Day. 

He had to organise and prepare for a landing operation of the British Army and because of this and other similar assignments, he received four individual medals for bravery. Many years later, following on from his time in the forces, Eric worked at Chums. 

Adding a simple splash of colour to a black and white photograph can really bring the past to life. Colourising old photos allows the people featured in them to have their stories shared. We just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who sent photos in and took the time to help us create this glimpse into the past.

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