A fascinating display telling the story of Olive Edis, one of the most highly regarded photographers of the twentieth century, comes to the Army Flying Museum in Middle Wallop, Hampshire this December. 

The display – The Road to Ypres: The War Photography of Olive Edis - features ten double-sided panels telling the story of Edis’ life and documents her tour of Europe in March 1919 as Britain’s first female official war photographer, one of only five British photographers commissioned to cover the First World War. 

In March 1919, Edis was granted permission to photograph on the Western Front and in France, she captured the destruction of war in poignant images of ravaged landscapes and deserted towns.  Travelling through mile after mile of endless chaos Edis passed by abandoned helmets which littered the roadside and, in the fields, saw great derelict aeroplanes rotting in the mud like skeletons.  Throughout the journey she kept a fascinating diary of her adventures where she recorded the stories behind the photographs and her reactions to the destruction she saw all around her.

In the sixty years since her death, Edis has been largely forgotten by history, and her huge contribution to British photography sadly overlooked.  Thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Olive Edis project from Norfolk Museums Service and Cromer Museum, was curated to raise awareness of Edis’ work and give her inspirational story the recognition it deserves.  This special touring exhibition features reproductions from the Cromer Museum collection as well as rarely-seen images from The Imperial War Museum and National Portrait Gallery.  Images are accompanied by extracts from Edis’ war diary allowing the story to be told in her own words.

Museum Curator, Susan Lindsay said “We are delighted to be hosting this temporary display created by Norfolk Museums Service. It tells the fascinating story of a true pioneer and includes many of the amazing images that Olive Edis took during the course of her varied career. As a military museum, we are proud to showcase the work of Britain’s first female official war photographer.”

The Museum offers a free annual pass with entry fee, so not only do visitors have the opportunity to view the exhibition, but they can also view the amazing exhibits on display within the Museum telling the history of British Army Aviation. The exhibition will run at the Museum from Sunday 10 December until Sunday 3 March 2024.