The remarkable images were taken by Sergeant Charles Hewitt, of the Army Film and Photographic Unit. He was present at many of the important offensives of 1944 and 1945, including the Battle of Monte Cassino during the Italian Campaign and the Allies’ advance into Germany after the D-Day invasion. While many of his photos appeared in the international press at the time, this selection from two albums of previously unpublished images he kept of the conflict have only just emerged.
There are dramatic images of Allied soldiers in the heat of battle at Monte Cassino and a moving snap of a soldier tending to a wounded Italian boy caught in crossfire. Other striking snaps are of surrendering German soldiers, but there are also charming images of troops relaxing away from the front line.
Allied soldiers made themselves at home at the Olympic Stadium complex in Berlin, with one taking a leap off the 30ft diving board into the pool.
Others posed in the rubble of the Reichstag, with one snap captioned “Hitler’s dining room”. Sir Winston Churchill is shown arriving in Berlin in July 1945 and the seminal moment is captured when a British flag is unfurled to signify victory.
Sgt Hewitt, who was known as “Slim Hewitt” due to his tall and slender frame, also photographed a traditional German family in their home. And he took pictures at the Red Cross school for young children and Russian mothers at Belsen, the site of the notorious concentration camp.
After the war, Sgt Hewitt worked for Picture Post until it folded in 1957. He then joined the BBC, contributing to its Tonight programme.
When he died, aged 72, in 1987 the collection of 370 photos was passed to his daughter. Now she has consigned them for sale with Chiswick Auctions, of London. They are expected to fetch £1,200.
Austin Farahar, from Chiswick Auctions, said: “These important albums contain a fascinating insight into the closing stages of the war from a highly skilled professional photographer.
“Much of his work was published internationally at the time but this sale Wartime snapper features two personal and unpublished albums from this stage of his career.
“Many men in this unit went on to have highly successful careers in film and photography.
“They were responsible for nearly all of the imagery and propaganda films that the public had access to.
“The technical proficiency with exposure and framing sets these images apart from more ordinary albums from this period.
“And the proximity to the front line where Hewitt operated make them incredibly insightful.
“Much of Hewitt’s ability apparent in his later works for Picture Post and the BBC can clearly be seen across this pair of albums.”
The sale is on Sgt Hewitt Thursday.
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