Dimbola Museum and Galleries, the Island’s home for photography, is launching a remarkable exhibition of World War I aerial photography, bringing together a collection of cameras, photographs and maps to show how these were used by soldiers fighting on the Western Front. Most have been loaned by descendants currently resident on the Isle of Wight.
World War One saw photo-reconnaissance come of age. For the first time photographs were taken from immediately above the field of battle and behind enemy lines, giving commanders in the field a unique and accurate picture of terrain and enemy dispositions as they planned operations.
Many of the photographs come from an extraordinary album collected by Lt Frank Vans Agnew, who enlisted into the British Army in 1914 at the age of 46, although at the time he pretended he was 40.
Frank served under the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, led by Islander General Jack Seely, who lived in Brook.
Include in the collection are original reconnaissance photographs and maps covering the 1917 battles of Messines and the third battle of Ypres, otherwise known as Passchendaele.
Frank was wounded at Messines and awarded the Military Cross for gallantry. He was wounded a second time and captured during the 1st battle of Cambrai in Nov 1917. He saw out the end of the war in Prisoner of War camps.
Prior to his enlistment, adventurer Frank had worked as an orange farmer in Florida, a copper miner in what is now Kazakhstan, and had served with an US Cavalry Regiment in the Spanish-American War.
IoW Cllr Bob Seely, whose great, great uncle commander the brigade in which Frank served, said:
“These photographs and maps are unique insight into how, 100 years ago, modern aerial reconnaissance developed.
“By 1917 when Lt Vans Agnew was a junior tank commander, the British Army was beginning to use tactics and planning which today’s soldiers would recognise; such as the use of aerial photography to develop imint – imagery intelligence – to understand and plot enemy positions and give commanders battle-winning information.
“Imint, combined with combined arms tactics linking artillery, air, infantry, cavalry and the new-fangled tanks, helped turn the British Army into an increasing formidable and mobile machine.”
Invitation to contribute to Dimbola’s 2018 First World War Centenary Exhibition
Dimbola is interested in hearing from Islanders who may have photographs from the First World War taken by their friends or relatives. If you are interested in contributing to an exhibition to mark the centenary of the Armistice in Autumn 2018 please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Exhibition Open Evening
An Open Evening view of this exhibition will be held on Friday 17th January, 6-8pm. There will be hot and cold drinks available from a fully-licensed cash bar and an opportunity to view the Isle of Wight Photographer of the Year exhibition (11th Jan-30th Mar). All welcome, please RSVP to email@example.com.
On Thursday 13th February at 6pm John Evans, one of the exhibition organisers, will be providing a fascinating insight into this historically-significant technology and the way in which it was used during the First World War. The talk will be followed by a reception and the opportunity to see the exhibition with hot and cold drinks available from a fully-licensed cash bar. Tickets are £4 and are available from Dimbola or by calling 01983 756814.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Information on Dimbola Museum and Galleries
The former home of the pioneering Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron now houses permanent display of Cameron’s photographs and an historic camera collection. As well as hosting a programme of regularly changing contemporary exhibitions Dimbola is also home to a permanent display on the history of the Isle of Wight Festival.
Galleries, Museum and Tearooms Open Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holidays 10am-4pm
(November to March) and 7 Days a week from 10am-5pm (April to October)
Adults £5 (Gift Aid Admission), Concessions £4 (Gift Aid Admission), Friends of the JMCT, Artfund and Children under 16 years FREE