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Remembered Today:

Aerial Photographs

Gully Ravine

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There is a question posed in post #124 of this 'Gallipoli' thread http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=156021&hl=lonetreegully&st=123 asking where the 'missing' aerial photos are from WW1. Behind the question is an assumption that there must have been many more photos taken than are currently available. (This certainly seems a reasonable assumption re Gallipoli - not sure about other areas).

I did hear a rumour that old glass plate photos were being worked on (catalogued?) slowly and with limited resource after the war, but that this work was abandoned as the1939 conflict approached and they were 'buried in a hole at one of the RAF bases (Farnborough or Farnham?)'.

Can anyone confirm / deny / elaborate please?



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It might be worth checking with the Librarian at Keele University. They hold the RAF photographic reconnaissance archive, but I suspect it may only be WW2.



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Some possible leads from Chasseaud & Doyle's 'Grasping Gallipoli' [iSBN 1-86227-283-2]

see their bibliography

AIR 1/2284/209/75/10, & WO 317/13. Dowson, E M (1915), Director-General Survey of Egypt, Notes on Mapping from Aeroplane photography in the Gallipoli Peninsula, Secret.[c.September 1915], initially issued not earlier than 22 September 1915. Over 40 foolscap pages, illustrated with maps, diagrams and four air photographs 'taken by the RNAS in Gallipoli for mapping purposes,' reproduced typescript, originally in MCE, MRLG (now DGIA)

IWM, Department of Photographs

Lieut Butler's air photos (No.3 Squadron) in album (Accession No. 9008-06)

Capt Hon M Knatchbull MC, album (Vol. VI-Gallipoli & various) containing air photographs of Gallipoli etc. collected by Knatchbull Hugessen, on loan to IWM Dept of Photographs

There is no indication of the size of the Butler collection held at the IWM, however the text (see page 188) refers to “Until the end of June, when he was badly wounded, he exposed in all some 700 plates...” NB this figure will no doubt include minefields in the Straits, Gulf of Saros, etc etc

Butler was using a borrowed French camera and this was damaged in an “aeroplane accident before 30 July.” (This date seems to have been arrived at based upon Major-Gen Douglas' request to the French “for the loan of existing photos of 'certain areas' not covered by British photos.”)

Regarding the numbers taken overall at Gallipoli, the text also gives the following (see page 179) in the case of the Ark Royal's seaplanes “only fifty-five photos had been taken by the end of October”


Page 188 also mentions “It was not until the end of August that a regular photographic section was organised; thereafter the progress of aerial photography was rapid.” This must be a ref to the arrival of No. 2 Wing and its photographic officer C F Lan-Davies. See page 197 “No. 2 Wing took over 1,500 photos between 26 August and 19 November; of these 160 exposures failed and a further 120 were lost because of damage incurred by aircraft. In the course of photographic sorties, two cameras were destroyed in accidents to aircraft.”

I may have missed something but I can find no ref as to where No. 2 Wing's photographs are currently being held (if they still exist)

Good luck with this important search


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