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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Unusual Picture of a Soldier

the gunners dream

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Hello all,

I'm posting this on behalf of another forum member, namely mavis, and I wondered what your thoughts were?

This is Frank Elswood.


I certainly have not seen an image like this, although I have seen images that have been what we would term airbrushed these days e.g. edited, drawn on etc.

As you can see someone has either drawn a body around his face or they've edited it in some way. What does everyone think?


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there is a technique, where you print off a photo, sketch over it in pencil or what have you, then wash away the emulsion leaving the sketch. I saw this done years ago, but I can't remember the details and can say little else about it. Perhaps that is the technique used here.

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It looks reminiscent of those boards at the seaside that you stick your head through, with large ladies and skinny fellas on them :huh:

I don't mean to insult anyone here...it just looks a little odd.

Edited by spike10764
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T8HANTS was correct about this. It was a special photographic technique. I'll attach a typical example. (Photo removed to save webspace - contact me for a copy)

I will search for an interesting article that I had describing this. The article appeared in mid 1917 in the Toronto Evening Telegram. It was a warning to recent war widows about a man who would check the obituaries for soldiers who were killed from the area, and then show up at the home pretending to be an old friend. He would ask for a small photograph of the deceased man. A few days later he would return with the photo enlarged, enhanced and watercoloured using this technique. He would present the widow with a large bill for the costs. One widow at first thought it was a gift from the supposed friend, so when she was presented with a bill she told him she couldn't afford it and she didn't ask for it. He began pressing her with repeated visits for the money. Finally, she called to the newspaper to send over a journalist to take down her story. It turned out that the man was a salesman for a company that sold those photo enhancements.

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Thank You to Steve for posting this for me.And I think that T8Hants is correct too.

Interesting that Canada WW1 refers to an article where this was done after the soldier was killed.

Do you think that this image of Frank Elswood who was killed on 1st July 1916 was created before or after his death,perhaps from a family photo,to highlight his service and loss in action in the Somme,where an actual photo in uniform was not

existing.Frank who was 34 at time of death had volunteered as many had for the War.

I would be interested to know if this was done usually before or after death in such

a technique.

Thank you.


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I have a picture of my father in WW2 which looks exactly like the picture posted, only it was done in NZ. It gives the impression of a portrait rather than a photo, only a bit fuzzy.

The background is cloudy, and the body finishes part way down the picture, not at the bottom.

It was certainly done while he was alive, as he survived the war and produced me, only dying in 1980.

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