The Second World War presented a huge range of challenges to press photography both in terms of its execution and getting the results in print. Life on the home front was the main subject until the invasion of France changed everything in 1944.
Photographers from The Times were part of a talented group who were there to capture the momentous events taking place from the moment the troops stepped ashore, as the Allies fought their way from the D-Day beaches all the way to Berlin. They captured thousands of images of the fighting and its aftermath: bombed out towns, tanks and the inevitable human death toll, but also troops moving through a scarred landscape, the civilian population in joy and fear, and the daily activities of the soldiers themselves. They were on hand to witness the surrender of German commanders and some of their subsequent suicides, and also when King George VI made history when he became the first monarch since Henry V to confer knighthoods on the battlefield.
It is an extraordinary archive, yet very few of the images were published, either at the time or since. Mark Barnes, a librarian at The Times, has painstakingly reconstructed the archive over a period of many years, piecing together the journeys these pioneering photographers, masters of their craft, made across Europe.
The Liberation of Europe, containing over 400 images, not only gives a succinct and expert overview of the North West Europe campaign, but also presents world history on a grand scale and is essential reading for everyone interested in World War II and the history of Europe.
"...provides many, particularly Americans, with the opportunity to appreciate photographs which may not have been as widely published or available in America at the time or subsequently...One gets the opportunity to view the famous and infamous as well as the everyman and woman in the ranks and on the home front as well, many of whom are identified in the accompanying captions. Equipment, weapons, and vehicles also come in for their fair share of exposure as does the face of war in all of its ugliness...Whether or not one prefers to eschew text and actual reading in order to just look at the pictures, this volume is recommended. However, it begs the question of what remains to be seen in the thousands of images that didn't make the cut. Might additional volumes be forthcoming?"
- New York Journal of Books