AFPU Number 5 Unit,  News

Bert Hardy – Photographer (AFPU)

Bert Hardy was born in London in May 1913. The eldest of seven children in a working-class family, he left school aged fourteen to work as a messenger collecting and delivering film and prints from West End chemists for a film processing company.

Liberation of Bergen Belsen
Bert Hardy
Captivated by photography, he bought a plate camera from a pawnbroker’s shop and using his sister’s head as a tripod, snapped King George V and Queen Mary passing by in a carriage down Blackfriars Road. Bert printed off 200 postcards and sold them around the neighbourhood. A photographic career was launched.

Combining his interests of cycling and photography, he began freelancing for The Bicycle magazine, where he came into contact with the new miniature 35mm cameras. Buying a second-hand Leica, he worked for a photographic agency before being taken on as a staff photographer at the prestigious Picture Post magazine in 1940 before being called away to join the Army’s photographic unit, covering the Normandy Landings, the Allies march into Paris, the crossing into Germany, and the traumatic liberation of Belsen concentration camp. He returned to Picture Post and was responsible for some of their greatest features.

Liberation of Bergen Belsen
Block 47, the last remaining block is burnt to the ground. 21 May 1945. Photo by Bert Hardy

A highly gifted war photographer, who also covered important news stories around the world, Bert is best known for his warm and humane portrayal of everyday Britain. His assignment to capture life in the Gorbals in Glasgow was groundbreaking and was followed by further memorable photo-essays on the lives of ordinary people, often at the margins of British society.

Liberation of Bergen Belsen
Bert Hardy in jeep with Wehrmacht prisoners on the bonnet.

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This archive has been established after my own relative, Reg Price, took part in the liberation and subsequent humanitarian effort of Bergen Belsen in April 1945. Reg produced this famous sign at Belsen. As part of the 113th DLI, Reg and his comrades were at Belsen for 5 weeks and left when the last hut was empty and ceremonially burnt down. This archive compiles all available resources to build a lasting tribute to all the men and women who helped - any unit, any nationality. If you have a relative, or any info, on the relief effort at Belsen, we’d love you to please get in touch. Email us: you Nick Price CreativesFacebookTwitter