31 Rolls of Undeveloped Film from a Soldier in WWII Discovered and Processed


Photographer Levi Bettweiser is the man behind the Rescued Film Project, an effort to find and rescue old and undeveloped rolls of film from the far corners of the world.

He recently came across one of his biggest finds so far: 31 undeveloped rolls of film shot by a single soldier during World War II.

Bettweiser tells us he found the film rolls in late 2014 at an auction in Ohio. About half the rolls were labeled with various location names (i.e. Boston Harbor, Lucky Strike Beach, LaHavre Harbor). “I know nothing about who shot the film or who it belonged to,” he says.




Here’s a great 10-minute video in which Bettweiser talks about the film and how he went about recovering them in his lab at home:

Bettweiser says he gets nervous when developing the first roll in any batch of film, since the results with that one often indicate how fruitful the rest of the batch will be.

Luckily, in the case of these 31 WWII rolls from over 70 years ago, wonderful images emerged from the developing tank:

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.55.32 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.56.12 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.56.24 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.56.34 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.56.41 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.57.16 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.57.24 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.57.36 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.57.44 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.57.58 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.58.06 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.58.30 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.58.49 AM

You can find more of the rescued WWII photos on the Rescued Film Project website.

(via ISO 1200)

  • Rescued Film Project

    Morning Sun! We use an Epson Perfection V750 Pro scanner and the accompanying Espon Scan Software.

  • Rescued Film Project

    Thank you!

  • Rescued Film Project

    So true Ed. And you’re definitely not the first one to point this out. Thanks for watching!

  • K0RC

    Thank you. Your results are very impressive and I congratulate you for pursuing this “work”. I had no idea that there may be exposed / undeveloped film “kicking around”, yet to be found!

  • Pedro Paiva

    One simply doesn’t find something like this every day … ;)

  • Doug Kursk

    Yep..a Renault FT-17 I believe.The Germans captured dozens of these and other French tank models and used them as tank trainers and beasts of burden.

    As an interesting side note, the Americans built their own version of this tank, which was found to be inadequate for their needs and made surplus. They were bought secondhand by the fledgling Canadian Armoured Corp, then being constituted at Camp Borden, Ontario.

    There is a restored model of one of the American versions at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

  • Doug Kursk

    See above…French Renault FT-17

  • Christopher Riddle

    Thanks for the info!You weren’t(perhaps)born in July,1943,were you??

  • Garrett

    It’s kodakcolor 200 so it would be c-41 processing.

  • fosterkatt

    I was just checking out your link, you have some fantastic photos on there! Amazing how Waikiki has changed. Looking forward to taking more time this evening to look at more of your pics.

  • fosterkatt

    No probably about it. His bridge must have been under repair so he had to do something to kill some time.

  • Guest

    Do we contact you if we believe we have a family member in one of these pictures?

  • Rescued Film Project

    you aren’t the first to bring this to our attention. The table in the video isn’t actually a light box, it’s simple a desk with a clear glass top. I had my videographer place lights under it but they were actually much darker than they appear in the video. We simply just had him brighten the shot in camera adjusting the iris and ISO for cinematic effect

  • Rescued Film Project
  • Rescued Film Project

    you aren’t the first to bring this to our attention. The table in the video isn’t actually a light box, it’s simple a desk with a clear glass top. I had my videographer place lights under it but they were actually much darker than they appear in the video. We simply just had him brighten the shot in camera adjusting the iris and ISO for cinematic effect. Even still, none of the “loose” rolls were ever placed on the table and weren’t open until loading. thank you for your concern!

  • khelmar

    I think both ways have value. I’d love to be able to see more detail and have clearer, more ‘clean’ versions. But as mentioned below, the while story of uncovering them and developing/printing as is (or with minor adjustments) is pretty awesome too.

  • nigel

    war is a terrible thing. nothing will change that. seeing these brave souls preparing for their destiny you can almost feel the sense of tension. many wont be coming home. it is with great respect i look upon these images. many people shown here will help to perform pivotal tasks that has shaped our world even now. they will not be forgotten. thank you for your great effort recovering these images so that we can all catch a glimpse of their world. a sparse, simple, mechanical and very much human world.

  • TheYeomanFarmer

    My grandfather was career Navy, and carried an 8mm home video camera with him everywhere. Was amazing when I discovered his trove of movie footage, spanning roughly 1940 to 1960. It’s all silent, and all B&W. No combat footage, but lots of cool shots of him and his buddies aboard warships and in overseas locales. Really amazing getting an ordinary person’s view of military service from that era. I bet there’s more of this kind of stuff out there than we’ll ever know.

  • northerncanuck

    Seems early in the process, they’re still processing film. I’m sure at some point copies will be worked on and detailed identifications will start coming forth.

  • oldeeyore

    I don’t want to seem stupid, but was there no information on chain of custody from the Ohio auctioneer?

  • Shawn

    I was married at Indiantown Gap in 1984, me and my wife spent our honeymoon in that cottage next to water tower. we still visit there occasionally and stay in the cottages.

  • Doc Hallenstein

    A rescued place “c1c1p” shows the ice rink in McCall, Idaho. Yacht Club seen out the window.

  • Joel Wexler

    So right-click, save as, open ‘em up and slide away.

  • J Blauch

    Just an amazing find. I grew up about 7 miles from FITG and yes, many of these buildings still stand. Photo #4 from the top with the small barracks on the right intrigue’s me. Although demolished in the 80’s. These buildings could possibly be where some of the Italian and German POW’s were housed who worked on the nearby farms. My Dad a POW himself (106th Division 423d Co A, Stalag 2A), after he came home was was given the job of “escorting” higher level POW’s to St Louis by train.
    In the late 70’s while traveling just into FITG from the east, our jeep broke down. Out of the blue, he pointed to the green shingle covered buildings on our right and said he picked up a few POW’s there. It sure looks like a rag-tag bunch on the left. Notice the fence behind them and the shadow in the foreground which is possibly a gate?

    Does anyone recognize the officers club in any of the photo’s? My Mother who was still in high school, was the singer in the Big-Band (Mr Sounders was the leader?) who preformed there from 1943-45.

  • Erik Michael Garrett

    In my 20 years in the Army I have seen and even stayed in these old barracks all over the place. Most of these style were originally built in WWI but are still in service today. I have seen them at Ft Lewis WA, Ft Polk LA, Ft Sill OK, Ft Knox KY, Ft Gordon GA, Ft Smith AR, Camp Robinson AR, and Ft Hunter Ligget CA. With the mountains in the background I originally thought this was Hunter Ligget. Demolition has been ongoing for years and is quite a process as they are full of lead paint and asbestos.