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Photos reveal 'fascinating snapshot' of WW1 aftermath

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  • World War One
image copyrightDavid Halsted
image captionDavid Halsted, whose grandfather took the photos, colourised one image to give it "a modern feel"

A collection of negatives found in a small tin has revealed a "fascinating snapshot" of the lives of soldiers keeping the peace after World War One.

Keen photographer John Guthrie, from Burnley, travelled to Germany in March 1919 as part of the occupying force.

The 19-year-old soldier spent a year in the country and took photos capturing his colleagues at work and play.

His grandson David Halsted, who found the negatives, said they showed the servicemen "basically having fun".

image copyrightDavid Halsted
image captionSporting events feature heavily in the photos, including games from the Corps Cup
image copyrightDavid Halsted
image captionPte Guthrie also managed to get some photographs of himself in Germany
image copyrightDavid Halsted
image captionPte Guthrie's battalion also took part in a sports day, which included a race involving mules

Pte Guthrie was called up to the King's Regiment (Liverpool) after the conflict ended and his battalion was sent to Oberkassel, a suburb of Bonn, to root out insurgency and revolutionary activity.

Mr Halsted said despite the seriousness of the assignment, the photos mostly captured the young servicemen "mucking around".

"There is one photo which shows one lad wearing the archetypal German spiked helmet while the others point guns at him," he said.

"Given how soon after the war it was, we look at it now and might think it was quite disrespectful, but they're just young lads."

image copyrightDavid Halsted
image captionOne image sees soldiers pretending to capture enemy troops
image copyrightDavid Halsted
image captionAnother image captures the troops relaxing during a day at the beach

However, he said among the collection were some shots taken as the battalion travelled through northern France, which showed scenes that "must have been a real eye-opener to what the world was like".

Mr Halsted said he only recently unearthed the images because his grandfather, who died in 1989, had taken thousands of photos throughout his life and the negatives had been "lost in the massive collection".

image copyrightDavid Halsted
image captionPte Guthrie's photos of northern France show the devastation caused by the war
image copyrightDavid Halsted
image captionThe images also capture the troops at work at checkpoints in Germany

He discovered them while searching the collection for images of his great uncle, who served at the WW1 Battle of Passchendaele, and "immediately set to".

His research led him to the museum at Oberkassel, where "the whole story of his time in Germany got fleshed out".

"The museum was working on a book specifically about the people and town of Oberkassel during the occupation.

"My granddad's story is now woven through the narrative, reflecting the lives of the locals through the eyes and camera lens of a soldier."

image copyrightDavid Halsted
image captionPte Guthrie also captured life among the locals in Oberkassel
image captionMr Halsted found the negatives in a small tin box

Photos from 1919 from collection of Pte John Guthrie.

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