As often happens I had a quite different post in mind for this week but the VE day commemorations reminded me of a publication in our collection, a set of photographs in a loose binding put together by the Ministry of Information sometime during the war. We seem to have just one volume, number 4 in the series. I’ve found this almost random collection of wartime images fascinating so have made a nearly random selection of my own, of images which caught my eye. I started out with the idea of featuring women at war for a reason I’ll reveal later, but there weren’t quite enough so there’s really no proper theme or angle just a few pictures which I hope are unfamiliar enough to be interesting. In the broadest sense of the term these are propaganda images, intended to paint the war effort in a positive light. But I think they go beyond that and show something of the psychology of the nation.
Members of the Auxilliary Territorial Service (ATS) at a gun demonstration. The caption describes “the girls” as “attentive”.
Soldiers in the Grenadier Guards, also training, in a dramatically posed picture. “Three fine types”, according to the caption.
The ATS again, on a searchlight.
The Home Guard practice firing on a co-operative RAF plane. The caption assure us that it is not only possible to bring a plane down with guns but that it has already been done.
Naval officers at a training college.
Members of the Women’s Voluntary Service in Edinburgh making camouflage netting.
A camouflaged 12 inch howitzer with a slightly apprehensive looking soldier on board.
Royal Navy despatch riders. “The squad is ready for action.”
Bronwen Williams, described as working in the “experimental section at an aerodrome” clocking up a great many flying hours. The caption makes her work sound mysterious but doesn’t fail to mention that she is “a pretty brunette in her early twenties.”
A named Flight Lieutenant visits a mill in Oldham where uniforms are manufactured and pays tribute to to the unnamed worker beside him.
A debrief of air crew after a raid on Berlin. The flying jacket – always a flattering garment.
The caption on this image is simply a line of destroyers at sea.
A group of soldiers walk through a bomb damaged town in North Africa. This is another of those pictures which look casual but show very effective composition.
Finally, back to the ATS.
A tribute from me, to the lady on the left.
As I said at the start I had something different planned this week but I’d always intended to use some of these images so why not at this appropriate moment.
The answer to last week’s question was that the last image was of a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1921. The three figures at the back were Titania, Puck and Oberon played by Miss Elizabeth Irving, Miss Iris Hawkins and Miss Mary Grey. I don’t know how often Oberon is played by a female actor but I can see the artistic logic behind it. Now I’ve started wondering if we have any other pictures of productions of that play.