|| Blake Heathcote
|| Doubleday Canada (2005)
- 1 votes (10/10)
Thousands of Canadians were moved by Testaments of Honour. Now, with A Soldier’s View, Blake Heathcote opens his extensive archive of photos, rarely before published or seen, to share with us the face of the Second World War as it was witnessed by those who fought it.
Blake Heathcote has spent years crisscrossing the country, interviewing Canadian war veterans on video so that their stories will be preserved for generations to come. In the course of these interviews he has compiled an archive of more than 8,700 photographs digitally scanned from the personal collections of the men and women he has met, veterans who were involved in all branches of the service and on all fronts of the war.
A Soldier’s View: The Personal Photographs of Canadians at War 1939–1945 includes five hundred images from this stunning collection. Cameras were strictly forbidden by the military (for fear of espionage), and individuals used them at significant personal risk. Later generations should be grateful that these contraband cameras were put to good use: documenting a story that would otherwise have been lost.
We see the images captured by Alex Gray, an RCAF photographer who often saw war at its most devastating. In addition to the pictures used for official purposes, Gray captured many images that he kept for his personal collection, a rich sample of which is included in A Soldier’s View: pilots still in flight gear celebrating their return from enemy airspace, and a gravely prohibited shot of the acres of vehicles and armour assembled for the Canadian assault on Normandy.
We meet Tom Ingham, a stoker on HMCS Iroquois, and the crew’s forbidden Kodak Brownie, which captured life aboard a combat destroyer: a boxing match used to settle disputes between sailors, an informal group of seamen singing around an accordion, the spectacular explosion of a merchant ship.
We see the devastation of Europe through the lens of Percy Loosemore, a paymaster who traveled the front lines hot on the heels of the advancing Canadians. His images of makeshift Canadian graves, Dutch street urchins, and shattered towns are unforgettable.
A Soldier’s View captures the diversity of human experience and emotion inspired by war — life and death, destruction and hate, adventure, bravery and sacrifice, friendship, hope and the wisdom of experience — and offers a unique and powerful way of entering a time in Canada’s past so fundamental in shaping the country and the world as we have come to know it.