Mole and Thomas : Living pictures formed by thousands of US soldiers

Englishman Arthur S Mole and his American colleague John D Thomas took these incredible pictures of thousands of soldiers forming icons of American history. Arthur's great nephew Joseph Mole, 70, says: "In the picture of the Statue of Liberty there are 18,000 men: 12,000 of them in the torch alone, but just 17 at the base. The men at the top of the picture are actually half a mile away from the men at the bottom"

They took the photographs in camps across the US using soldiers returning to America after World War I

Mole and Thomas: The Living Uncle Sam: 19,000 officers and men at Camp Lee, Virginia, January 13, 1919

Mole and Thomas' work was the first to use a unique technique to beat the problem of perspective after they devised a clever way of getting so many soldiers in the pictures. Arthur's great nephew Joseph explains: "Arthur was able to get the image by actually drawing an outline on the lens, he then had the troops place flags in certain positions while he looked through the camera..."

Mole and Thomas: The Human US Shield: 30,000 officers and men at Camp Custer, Battle Creek, Michigan, 1918

"...It would take a week to get all the outlines right, but just 30 minutes to move all the men into position to take the shot. It must have been amazing to watch..."

Mole and Thomas: The living emblem of the United States Marines, formed by 100 officers and 9,000 enlisted men at the Marine Barracks, Paris Island, South Carolina

"..."When it came to the day of the photograph Arthur would then be able to put all the pieces together, he could say to 157 men 'move there and you can be Woodrow Wilson's ear'"

Mole and Thomas: A portrait of President Woodrow Wilson, formed of 21,000 officers and men at Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio, 1918

Carl Hammer, from the Chicago gallery of the same name, says: "Mole and Thomas were commissioned by the US government to take the pictures as a way to raise morale among the troops and raise money by selling the shots to the public"

The Human Liberty Bell, formed by 25,000 officers and men at Camp Dix, New Jersey, 1918

"...It must have been incredible for the soldiers to be part of these photos and to be part of this slice of history..."

The Human American Eagle: 12,500 officers, nurses and men at Camp Gordon, Atlanta, Georgia, 1918

"...I see modern photographers with all the technology we have these days trying to do the same as these two guys did almost 100 years ago, and I still think they did it best and they did it first"

Mole and Thomas: Living insignia of the 27th Division, New York's Own, breakers of the Hindenberg Line. Formed of 10,000 officers and enlisted men, March 18, 1919

Arthur Mole

Other photographers took "living photographs"

209th Engineers, Camp Sheridan, 1919

 The Panther, formed by the faculty and students of the University of Pittsburgh, April 9, 1920

Indoctrination Division, Air Training Command, Lackland Air Base, San Antonio, Texas, July 19, 1947

Hawaiian Division, Schofield Barracks

The official seal of the Eleventh Division, Lafayette

A living insignia formed by the entire personnel, First Division, Fort Banning, Georgia, April 1940

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