1968 was a year of political unrest and social change, there were worldwide protests for civil liberties and demonstrations against the Vietnam War. It was in the context of this global struggle for political democracy and personal freedom that the Paris Riots and Prague Spring took place.
Both events were covered by Fleet Street photographer Reg Lancaster, a staff photographer for the Daily Express and based in Paris at the time.
In France, it was the student population who were challenging the status quo and railing against the establishment, later to be joined by disenchanted workers. In May, a series of student strikes broke out at a number of universities in Paris and the escalating conflict ended up on the streets.
Reg's photographs document the riots in progress and the tension between rebellious protesters and riot police is palpable.
Reg worked for the Daily Express for forty four years, in its heyday the Express had the largest staffed press photographer's team covering foreign assignments around the world. Reg was a versatile photographer taking images of everything from sport to celebrity but all with the same keen eye for detail.
Left, May 14th. A volatile situation as a watchful crowd facing the police appear ready for confrontation.
A photographer, clutching his camera is on the move. On the street, a discarded shoe is left in haste. In the bottom right-hand corner of the image, a protester runs towards us clutching what looks like a brick. The air is hazy with tear gas.
Left, the riot turns violent and some protesters are on the ground. Press photographers caught up in the action take refuge in a doorway whilst another photographs the police as they surge forward with their batons raised.
The bloodied face of a casualty who is helped by another student whilst the group behind them clasp their hands on their heads.
In August of the same year, Reg was in Czechoslovakia to photograph the crisis in Prague.
The Prague Spring is the term used to describe the brief period when popular Communist Party leader Alexander Dubcek attempted to introduce a programme of reform and loosening of censorship.
Despite efforts to reassure the Soviet leadership that Czechoslovakia had no intention of leaving the Warsaw Pact the move towards a more liberal approach to government was viewed by the Soviet Union as a threat and armed intervention was decreed necessary.
Left, 27th August. Students in Wenceslas Square, Prague, flying a banner emblazoned with the name of Czechoslovakian general secretary Alexander Dubcek.
Right, an emotive image as tearful crowds holding flowers congregate in Prague to confront the Russian invaders.
Curator - Archive Research Manager — Caroline Theakstone
Photographer - Reg Lancaster Express Photos —