IWM Staff
Wednesday 10 January 2018

Colour film was a scarce commodity during the Second World War, making the reproduction of printed works both difficult and expensive. Between 1942 and 1945 some 3,000 colour photographs were taken by The Ministry of Information for official records, which subsequently became part of the IWM archives in 1949.

Here are 15 of the images that survived and reveal for the first time and in great detail the world as the people in them would have seen it.

photographs

United States Eighth Air Force in Britain

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United States Eighth Air Force in Britain

Lieutenant Vernon R Richards of the 361st Fighter Group flying his P-51D Mustang nicknamed ‘Tika IV’, during a bomber escort mission in 1944.

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Sew for victory

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Sew for victory

Members of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) preparing parachutes for use by British airborne forces during the invasion of Europe, May 1944.

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Keep watching the skies

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Keep watching the skies

An Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) ‘spotter’ at a 3.7-inch anti-aircraft gun site, December 1942.

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The British Army drive on Tunis

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The British Army drive on Tunis

A crew from the 16th/5th Lancers, 6th Armoured Division, clean the gun barrel of their Crusader tank at El Aroussa in Tunisia, May 1943.

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Nurses and soldiers

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Nurses and soldiers

Nurses and convalescent aircrew at Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Hospital at Halton in Buckinghamshire, August 1943.

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Build for Britain

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Build for Britain

Lancaster Bombers nearing completion in Avro’s Assembly Plant at Woodford near Manchester, 1943.

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The British Army in Italy

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The British Army in Italy

A 5.5-inch gun crew from 75th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery, in action in Italy, September 1943.

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Meeting of the Supreme Command

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Meeting of the Supreme Command

General Dwight D Eisenhower and his senior commanders at Supreme Allied Headquarters in London, February 1944.

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Training day

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Training day

Private Alfred Campin of the 6th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry during training in Britain, March 1944.

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Glider-Borne Paratroopers exercise

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Glider-Borne Paratroopers exercise

British paratroopers prepare for a practice jump from an RAF Dakota based at Down Ampney in Wiltshire, 22 April 1944.

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The Home Front

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The Home Front

An Air Raid Precautions (ARP) warden inspects damaged buildings in Holborn, London.

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A pilot's best friend

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A pilot's best friend

The RAF’s top-scoring fighter pilot, Wing Commander James ‘Johnnie’ Johnson, with his Spitfire and pet Labrador ‘Sally’ at Bazenville landing ground, Normandy, July 1944.

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The Liberation of Eindhoven

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The Liberation of Eindhoven

Dutch civilians dance in the streets after the liberation of Eindhoven by Allied forces, September 1944.

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A caravan fit for a King

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A caravan fit for a King

Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery explains Allied strategy to King George VI in his command caravan in Holland, October 1944.

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The British Army in Athens

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The British Army in Athens

British soldiers admire the Caryatids on the Acropolis while sight-seeing in Athens, October 1944.

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