Stills Photographers - Page 2

Inspired by the CFPU by Josha Sietsma


I was asked to write how Holland’s first baseball scorebook happened to have a cover-illustration inspired by Charles H. Richer (CFPU).

In the summer of 2015, before becoming a teacher fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), I hosted a screening on the work and life of Annemie Wolff. She and her husband were photographers during the WWII and moved to Amsterdam prior to its commence. The amazing stills by this couple and my summer at the USHMM inspired my thoughts on photographers in wartime.

Being raised in Hamilton (ON), a fervent Canadian Historical review reader and with love for baseball I started searching the archives for the combination of all three. In this I was always looking for the connection with WWII. It was then that I found the picture showing Canadian soldiers playing baseball with the, also Canadian, Eager Beavers. A picture made by Charles H. Richer.

In my research on the background of the photo I came across the amazing work of Mark Celinscak. In his book (Distance from the Belsen Heap) he writes on the participation of the CFPU during the liberation of Europe in 1945. Photographers are heroes with lenses. Mister Celinscak was so kind to introduce me to the son and granddaughter of Charles H. Richer. I was so stunned by Richer’s photo. It had everything I was looking for and more: the personal tragedy and history of WWII, Canadians, the Veluwe and baseball. It also left me questioning. Where exactly did he take the picture? Why baseball? What happened to those portrayed? Was there a third-base?

I found the picture so unique that the following came to my mind. Having a local illustrator (Jedi Noordegraaf, Studio Vandaar) make me a set of covers for a baseball scorebook I wanted to produce for our local baseball club sounded as a really good idea. Not only would the cover, inspired on the CFPU and, more specifically Charles H. Richer, be a dedication to the wonderful sport of baseball, the celebration of community life but also to the veterans and our liberators. Look carefully and one will find the references. Some more clear than others.

So it happened that Holland’s first baseball scorebook is truly inspired by the CFPU. It tells us the story of our common past. It leaves us with open questions. It honours the veteran, the liberator. A story that deserves to be told. And baseball.

Josha Sietsma

Ede, the Netherlands

Further reads:

The Halifax Concert Party in World War II , Theatre Research in Canada, 1999 (volume 20, number 2)

Paul J. Tomelin – 1925-2016


Apart from researching personnel of the Canadian Army Film & Photo Unit, I have also been working to track down other Canadian military photographers. Three years ago I was fortunate to come across a veterans story online, posted by The Memory Project;

One of the stories sent in by the veteran’s to the project was Capt. (ret’d) Paul J. Tomelin, BEM (British Empire Medal), a veteran of the second world war, and a talented military photographer who served for approximately 18 months in Korea. Some of Mr. Tomelin’s photographs from the Korean War continue to be printed to this day in newspapers, and magazines across Canada and the world. One of his most famous shots, titled The Face of War, depicts the young and bloodied face of Private Heath Mathews, C. Company, of the Royal Canadian Regiment with whom Mr. Tomelin kept in contact with after the war.

Shortly after contacting the people at the Memory Project and explaining my research efforts into Canada’s military photographers, I was forwarded Paul Tomelin’s contact details. I first spoke with Mr. Tomelin in March, 2013.

“I was always interested in photography, even long before joining the Army, but I could only afford a box camera.”

When war broke out in Europe, Mr. Tomelin, like many of his buddies at the time, signed up to serve overseas. Requesting a non-combantant role, Mr. Tomelin reluctantly enlisted in the infantry, but once the mandatory training was completed, he requested a transfer to serve as a stretcher-bearer.

Mr. Tomelin goes on to explain his involvement with photography, “When I was in Europe I managed after the war to pick up an Agfa folding camera, 120 folding camera, and managed in the Netherlands to get a few rolls of film. Thats when I started taking a few pictures. When I really got into it was in Dawson Creek, B.C. I was stationed in Dawson Creek for almost a couple of years and we had a hobby darkroom and I managed to cash in a hundred dollar savings bond and bought a 35mm camera. I think it was a Robot (that took) one inch square photographs, and got taking photographs and developing the film, prints, and got going that way.”

With some of the money left over from the savings bond, Mr. Tomelin also picked up a series of booklets, one on photographic composition, and the other a Kodak products manual, both of which he says, “I practically memorized.”

When the Dawson Creek installation was closed down, Mr. Tomelin found himself posted to Edmonton as a switchboard operator, “I intentionally became familiar with the commanding Public Relations officer, who was Major Alex Stirton.” (Major Stirton had been a combat cameraman with the Canadian Army Film & Photo Unit during WWII.)

Because Mr. Tomelin had showed an interest in photography, Major Stirton would send Paul out with his Speed Graphic on a few assignments. At one point Major Stirton had arranged to have a washroom from a nearby abandoned building retrofitted into a darkroom. When not on one of his shifts as a switchboard operator, Mr. Tomelin would spend time helping Major Stirton in the darkroom, “We had quite an operation going.”

When the Korean war broke out, Mr. Tomelin volunteered right away, and with the help of Major Stirton managed to secure a spot with the Brigades, 25th Public Relations group and soon travelled overseas following the first contingent of troops, as a Public Relations Photographer,

“A 4 x 5 Speed Graphic camera, that was my major weapon.”
25 PR Unit Series – L. to R. Phil Plastow, John McLean, Don Manton, Stevie Stephens, Jim Wood, Paul Tomelin and Colin McDougall. Fort Lewis, Washington. April 1951. Credit: D.L. Burleson/Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-193477. Restrictions on use: Nil. Copyright: Library and Archives Canada

In Korea, Mr. Tomelin explained how transportation was a major problem because the Public Relations Unit was located at rear Brigade. In order to get to his assignments he was forced to use creative methods to get into the field, “Since we were located along a MSR (Major Supply Route), if I couldn’t get transportation from my own unit, I would go out to the MSR and hitch-hike!”

As a Sgt. cameraman, Mr. Tomelin’s assignments depended on getting to the front and even though hitch-hiking became necessary, it restricted his choice of destinations. As fate would have it, Mr. Tomelin soon found a more appropriate solution, “I had a sergeant friend in the RCEME workshop (Corps of Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) who had a sergeant friend with a nearby Marine unit who had a ‘buckshee’ (spare) jeep that was not on inventory. He said, ‘well look, I can get that jeep for a case of gin for you if you want.’ Once again, Mr. Tomelin was fortunate to have a contact friend working at the NAAFI (canteen), “I had contacts there and I could get a case of gin or whatever for next to nothing…so I had my own transportation. And for maintenance my friend in the (RCEME) workshop took care of that!”

This alleviated the problem of transportation, and Sgt. Tomelin was able to drive to his assignments untethered, and without restriction in his movements, “I was enjoying myself so much in Korea that I volunteered for an additional six months. So, instead of one year, I spent a year and a half in Korea.”

During those additional six months, Mr. Tomelin states, “I got some of my better photographs during those six months, the Face of War included.” Mr. Tomelin explains how he got the shot,


“I noticed a soldier leaning up against the side sandbag hilltop regimental aid post. I wanted to get a photograph of him earlier, but I would have had to do it with a flash and I felt that wouldn’t reproduce the images as well as natural light, so I kept an eye on this soldier as he he moved in the lineup. He was less injured than many of the others and he was getting close to the entrance. It was getting to be around four o’clock in the morning and daylight and he happened to be at the black entrance to the regimental aid post and I realized that if I didn’t get it now I wouldn’t get it. So, I raised my camera to take his photograph and he pushed himself away with disgust that he didn’t want his photograph taken. He was going to leave so I raised both my hands and I said, ‘please just go back the way you were’ It took no persuasion, he dropped right back against the sandbags and asked ‘where do you want me to look’. I just raised my arms and more or less pointed over my left shoulder the direction in which he was looking generally and got him looking over my shoulder and I raised the camera again, focused and took the photograph.”

Mr. Tomelin goes on to say, “There are many Face of War photographs but I challenge anyone to recall any other face of war photograph that has a dramatic impact of that one – I got that on my calling card. I’ve had many veterans, and other photographers tell me that there’s no other face of war photograph that can match the dramatic impact of that one.”

Having shot over 600 photographs during the Korean War, Mr. Tomelin commented on some that he was particularly proud to have shot. One of these was a shot of a father and son,

Private John J. Wheeler, 1st Battalion P.P.C.L.I., and his son John with sniper rifle at Korean front, 20 February 1952. Credit: Paul E. (J.) Tomelin/Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-128844. Restrictions on use: Nil. Copyright: Expired

“Father and Son. The Wheelers. Particularly proud of that one because they’re both  natives. Because they’re father and son but they’re both natives, they’re not immigrants to Canada they’re both natives. I had to take their photograph as a father and son. I could have taken the photograph of the two of them just sitting side by side but I realized that the rifle, the sons sniper rifle would tie in the admiring father and son. Just the son was a sniper. His father had volunteered to serve another six months so he could go back home to Canada with his son. The expression of pride is what I enjoyed reproducing the most. I am particularly proud of that photograph. I like the composition.”

Upon return to Canada in 1953, the Army announced that Sgt. Tomelin had been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for distinguished service in Korea. Soon after, Sgt.Tomelin, at the request of Major Donoghue of Prairie Command in Winnipeg, was posted to the Prairie Command Public Relations as a photographer. Later on that same year Sgt. Tomelin was selected as one of only two photographers to be sent to England to photograph Canadian activities in the coronation of Queen Elizabeth.

In 1957, Mr. Tomelin was a transportation officer (Captain) with the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in the Middle East. Although he was not posted there as a photographer, Mr. Tomelin states, “I carried a 35mm camera with me all the time.” Shooting Kodachrome slide film at the time, Mr. Tomelin used a Contax IIA camera to take pictures. Although Mr. Tomelin retired after 29 years in the service, he continued in his public life taking photographs and was a member of the Central Okanagan Photographic Society in Kelowna, B.C. for many years.

In 2014 I was fortunate to fly out to British Columbia and meet face to face with Mr. Tomelin. Having suffered a fall, Mr. Tomelin had been staying at the Cottonwoods Care Centre, located in Kelowna, B.C. We chatted about many of his photographs, and I pointed out that I had seen a poem that he had written, “This prayer (was written) I think it was in Korea – to remember our fallen comrades. It made me feel sad. Brave many men who lost their lives.” I asked Mr. Tomelin if he could recite it for me,

A Veteran’s Prayer

Dear Lord,

Help us to remember

Help us


And every day

Our fallen comrades

Who sacrificed

Their lives

So that we

Who live on

May enjoy

Our rights

And freedoms

We thank you

For your love

Which you gave

So freely

Help us

Through your love

To find peace

Within ourselves

And all around us

In memory of

Our fallen comrades

Help us to remember

Help us to remember


I want to thank everyone in the Tomelin family for helping me, especially Daniel, Kathy, and Laura who helped arrange my visit to see their father, and who supplied me access to many of their fathers photographic treasures. Mr. Paul J. Tomelin passed away peacefully on March 5th, 2016.

Sit down video interview with Mr. Paul J. Tomelin at the Cottonwoods Care Centre, located in Kelowna, B.C., August 26, 2014.

WWII British & Commonwealth War Correspondent Model Set


I was absolutely stunned the other day when someone sent me an email asking me if I heard about these new model figures featuring War Correspondents that they had come across. I followed the included link and was thoroughly amazed. The link took me to a website called TRACK-LINK,

“Since (the website) came online in January 6, 1996 as one of the first AFV (Armoured Fighting Vehicle) modeling sites on the Internet, TRACK-LINK has established itself as the leading electronic resource for thousands of AFV modelers worldwide.”

Within the forums section of the website was a posting by modeler Martyn Smith. His topic; Subject: [Figures Review] Bronco Models – W.W.II British & Commonwealth War Correspondent Set


Following the link to his review, I found a very detailed and extensive review of the modeling set. Knowing I had to learn more, I reached out and contacted Martyn. Martyn agreed to share some of his review for this post. See his full review by following the link below…


Martyn was a WO2 in the Infantry (Duke of Wellington’s Regt), and retired from the British Army in 2004. Always interested in modelling he joined Track Link and wrote his first review in Sept 2009.

The modeling kit included everything needed to recreate a 1/35th scale model of one British AFPU cameraman, a British War Correspondent, and to my utter surprise, four Canadian Film & Photo Unit personnel! In an email he explains,

“When I was sent the kit I knew little about ‘our’ forces brave photographers even though I spend an extraordinary amount of time in IWM’s (Imperial War Museum’s) archive pages. I knew the pics were credited to AFPU photographers and they operated in small sections and that was about it!”

I instantly recognized the members of the Unit having been familiar with the photographs from which the models were created. Posing with their camera gear are; (Clockwise from left) Lt. Harold G. Aikman, Sgt. Lew Weekes, Sgt. Gord Petty, and another of Lt. Harold Aikman. Below them are two British military personnel; crouching on one knee is AFPU cameraman Bob Jones (yet to be confirmed – see NOTE below ), and seated at his typewriter is War Correspondent Alan Wood.

Martyn’s review describes in excellent detail some of the characteristics of the set, including a short description of the figures themselves;

“Figure “F” This is based on Lieutenant H. Gordon Aikman of the CFPU, Colombelles, France, July 1944 although he is wearing a tie rather than an open collar with a revolver shoved down it. Again he is wearing early BD Serge which was worn through the entire war period and a Mk.II steel helmet. The same problem is evident with the rim although I’m being a tad picky to be fair. He is again portrayed holding his trusty 1940-47 Anniversary Speed Graphic camera and the purist may want to replicate the ‘finder’ from fine wire.

Lt. Harold Gordon Aikman – H-101604 – Born Grandview, Manitoba, 26 JUNE, 1914

Lieutenant H. Gordon Aikman of the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit, Colombelles, France, 19 July 1944. Credit: Sgt. Gordon Petty / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-145496.

Figure “A” This is based on Lieutenant H. Gordon Aikman of the CFPU, Vught, The Netherlands, February 1945. He is wearing early Battle Dress (BD) Serge with a leather jacket of unknown origin (I suspect Air Force or civilian?) and is wearing a Holster, webbing, No.2, Mk.2 for a Browning pistol. The figure is supplied with an excellent rendition of the 1940-47 Anniversary Speed Graphic camera in four parts although the purists may want to add the wire frame finder from fine wire.

Lieutenant H. Gordon Aikman of the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit, holding an Anniversary Speed Graphic camera. Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-150144.

“Figure “E” This is based on Sergeant Gordon D. Petty of the CFPU Hoogerheide, The Netherlands, October 1944. He is depicted wearing early BD trousers and a field jacket I don’t recognise. He is also wearing a MkII infantry steel helmet and again this is fairly well shaped but the anti magnetic rim is oversized a bit. He is depicted filming with a Bell and Howard Eyemo on a tripod. This camera was widely used by the CFPU and AFPU.”

Gordon David Petty – B-84120 – Born August 29, 1921, Galt, Ontario

Sergeant Gordon D. Petty of the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit taking cine pictures beside a shell-damaged building near Hoogerheide, Netherlands, 15 October 1944. Credit: Lieut. Ken Bell / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-136212.

“Figure “C” This is based on Sergeant Lew E. Weekes of the CFPU near Hoogerheide, The Netherlands, October 1944. He is depicted wearing early BD Serge (with the box pleat pockets) and a MkII infantry steel helmet. This is also reasonably well shaped but the anti magnetic rim is oversized a bit although I reckon this must be nigh impossible to represent properly in styrene its too fine a detail. Also provided is a very nice ’37 pattern holster for, probably, an Enfield or Webley revolver.

He is depicted reclining while filming with a Bell and Howard Eyemo motion picture or cine camera with the distinctive three-lens rotating turret, on a tripod. This is an excellent little model in its own right consisting of 13 parts some extremely tiny. Note to assemble this you’ll need to study the diagrams carefully the actual construction is shown over three different pictures. Those of figure C, figure E and a stand alone view of the camera and tripod’s left profile.”

Sergeant Llewellyn (Lew) Edwards Weekes – A-34826 – Born Vegreville, AB., March 16, 1916

Sergeant Llewellyn (Lew) Edwards Weekes of the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit taking cine pictures beside a shell-damaged building near Hoogerheide, Netherlands, 15 October 1944. Credit: Lieut. Ken Bell / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-136214.

“Figure “B” – This is based on the Daily Express War Correspondent Alan Wood, Arnhem, The Netherlands, September 1944. He is depicted wearing early BD Serge (with the box pleat pockets) and a reasonably well shaped MkI airborne troops steel helmet. The typewriter is a very nice item (two are supplied) and looks to be a 1937 Underwood sat in the bottom half of its carrying case. Note the upper part of the case isn’t supplied.”

War Correspondent Alan Wood is seen typing his despatch, while Airborne troops in the background consult a map during Operation ‘Market Garden’, Holland, 18 September 1944. Smith D M (Sgt) © IWM (BU 1146)


“Figure “D” This character I have not yet identified. Like the others he is portrayed wearing early BD Serge but this time with a beret. He is provided with a RAC Mk.II pistol case for his Enfield or Webley revolver and appears to be using a Zeiss Contax II 35mm still camera acquired initially through the USA 1939-42, although it’s hard to tell from the tiny part on the sprue. Some carried pairs of cameras and a spare is provided.”

NOTE: Regarding the unidentified British cameraman, forum member Keith Mathews adds “The kneeling figure is based on a photo of still photographer Bob Jones, paired with his film cameraman Fred Palmer during the ‘Goodwood’ operation – they were responsible for many of the photos of Cromwell tanks in action. Palmer has the more typical in NW Europe ‘boxy’ Vinten “Normandy” cine camera. American, De Vry ‘lunchbox’ cameras were also in use in NW Europe.” Unfortunately the link supplied by Keith Mathews is no longer active. To visit the forum posting page click here.

If anyone has more information regarding the identity of “Figure D” please contact me at

I want to thank Dan Conlin, and Christopher Hoyt for notifying me about the Bronco Correspondent Set, and to Martyn Smith for allowing me to post sections of his 2013 Model review, he writes;

“I guess my thought on the kit are hopefully captured in the review, they’re pretty accurate, based on real characters, and it’s a refreshing change to have a chance to portray the guys taking the photos rather than those in front of the lens.”


I am very pleased to post pictures in the gallery of a finished set from the Bronco War Correspondent kit, sent to me by Jerry Plettenberg of The Netherlands.

Once again, a special warm thank you to Jerry Plettenberg who writes;

“Hi Dale…I would consider it no less than an honour to see some of my work so much appreciated it is deemed good enough to be shown on your site : ) 

Do keep the memories alive of all these heroes, CFPU included, to whom us here owe so much; our freedom to begin with!”

© Dale Gervais, January 2016