Why is it that when soldiers leap out of planes during wartime, they don’t think to take a self-portrait? HA, trick question. They do. Or at least these guys did.
They were British paratroopers — a division set up by Winston Churchill only a few years before, at the beginning of WWII.
In Churchill’s words, this was a division that would “be able to storm a series of water obstacles… everywhere from the Channel to the Mediterranean and in the East.” Here, a group of paras was undertaking a training exercise. Crammed into the fuselage of an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bomber, the men were accompanied by one Haywood Magee, editor at the photography magazine Picture Post.
Magee photographed the soldiers leaping out, one by one. Inspired, he handed a camera to one of the paratroopers, who took these self-portraits.
They may have been slightly out of focus, but the images made a big impact on the sales of Picture Post. The issue was captioned “A Paratrooper Makes a Jump — And We Jump with Him.”