The use of First World War aerial photographs by archaeologists: A case study from Fromelles, Northern France

Pollard, T. and Barton, P. (2013) The use of First World War aerial photographs by archaeologists: A case study from Fromelles, Northern France. In: Archaeology from Historical Aerial and Satellite Archives. Springer, pp. 87-103. ISBN 9781461445043

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This chapter considers the use of aerial reconnaissance photographs taken on the Western Front during the First World War as a source of information for the growing number of archaeologists carrying out archaeological investigations on sites of conflict from this period. Hundreds of thousands of aerial photographs were taken by both sides during the war, a process which in itself provided the engine for the development of aerial warfare, because of the need to provide protection for military reconnaissance. One of the largest collections of Allied photographs resides in the Imperial War Museum in London which provided the examples used in this study. These photographs relate to the suspected burial of Australian and British soldiers behind German lines following the Battle of Fromelles, in northern France, in July 1916. They show a series of pits adjacent to Pheasant Wood, to the north of the village of Fromelles, and in doing so provided a vital piece of evidence in the search for the graves in 2007 and 2008. The chapter provides an introductory overview of the development of wartime aerial photography and, taking Fromelles as a case study, considers the role of aerial photographs, alongside other forms of evidence, in a programme of archaeological works which succeeded in the location and evaluation of mass grave pits which had lain unmarked since 1916. The result of this work was the recovery of 250 sets of human remains which have since been buried individually in a specially created Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery close to the original site.

Item Type:Book Sections (Other)
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Pollard, Professor Tony
Authors: Pollard, T., and Barton, P.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > History
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