Stumbling towards victory

Stumbling towards victory: the final year of the Great War
edited by Martyn Lawrence
published by the Trustees of the Royal Armouries, 2018
paperback ISBN 978-0-94809-2879
128 pages, illustrated, no index
reviewed by Chris Baker

This is a book of some 120 photographic images said to be from the archives of the Royal Armouries museum in Leeds. It is very nicely produced on glossy paper, with the images printed in sepia tones. Beginning with a brief introduction to each section, the text within the book consists mainly of the explanatory captions to each photograph, and a final single page chronology. All of the photographs relate to 1918 and take us through the whole year in sequence. Very few are of front line conditions, let alone the huge scale, bitter fighting of the open warfare of this year. The majority of the photographs are rather more homely in nature: men buying produce and plucking chickens; refugees; ruins and captured ground; a WAAC at a field bakery; peace celebrations; captured U-boats and aircraft on public display, for example. On the whole it would make a pleasing gift shop purchase for anyone interested in the Great War but I doubt that it is going to greatly enthuse the more expert reader. Most of the photographs were new to me but there are several that I have seen reproduced elsewhere.

It is of interest to see that included in the book are several photographs that are also listed in the catalogue of the Department of Photographs at the Imperial War Museum. An image of the band of 137th Infantry Brigade (IWM’s photo Q9522) is shown in the book on page 91. IWM claims ownership and if you, as an author, wish to include it in a book then you will need to pay them a handsome fee. So who does own the copyright, if a print is also held by the Royal Armouries? One to ponder.

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The Royal Armouries

IWM photo Q9522