EVIDENCE IN CAMERA

More from the fascinating 1957 book Evidence in Camera.

Wing Commander Peter Stewart was chosen to command a new Assistant Directorate of Photographic Intelligence in the summer of 1941. At this time reconnaissance photographs were showing how badly Bomber Command was failing in hitting its targets, and the photographic evidence of these failures was seldom welcomed.

Peter Stewart was well aware that ‘the photographs’, of both the day and night varieties, were a thorn in the side of Bomber Command. One day as he drove from London to High Wycombe he racked his brains to think how to make things less difficult. After lunch in the mess, he sat for a while in the anteroom, again searching for a way to make for better understanding. He glanced widely round the room, and then suddenly caught his breath. He had just noticed that Air Vice-Marshal Saundby was deep in the ‘Illustrated London News’ and that all around the room the picture magazines and the illustrated papers were being looked at while most of the other papers were lying untouched. What photographic intelligence needed was promotion. The raw material was flowing in every day; all that was wanted was the right presentation to make it really interesting.

[… Stewart’s ]efforts brought into being an official picture magazine called ‘Evidence in Camera’, which many pilots maintained was the only official publication they ever looked at.

evidence in camera

There is no doubt that ‘Evidence in Camera’ helped things a bit at Bomber Command, but only on the surface. In the later years of the war it was a different story. Then Sir Arthur Harris had his own special album of enlargements and his own special stereoscopic viewers. But in the early years there was no reconciliation between Bomber Command, with its hopes and fears and its agonising difficulties, and the merciless revelations of the photographs.

 

Evidence in Camera by Constance Babington Smith (1957 edition), pp: 108-111

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