New team member and the Roger Freeman Collection

By Lucy May on 28/08/2012

An example of a digital image we received this week from Max Communications Ltd: Three P-51D Mustangs from the 369th Squadron of the 359th Fighter Group photographed over England on November 14, 1944. Front to back: IV-P 44-14543 “Precious Pat” of Capt. Gilbert R. Ratson, IV-Z 44-15007 of Lt. Thomas J Klem and IV-D 44-15394 of Lt. Rene L. Burtner

Introducing the newest AAM team member, Lucy May Maxwell:

Last week I was welcomed by Duxford as the newest member of the American Air Museum project team. My principal role on the project is cataloguing newly digitised prints from the Roger Freeman Collection of photographs, which were formally accessioned by IWM earlier this year. After the experiences of growing up with a Eighth Air Force base just minutes from his family home, Roger Freeman spent much of his adult life researching and writing about the ‘friendly invasion’ of American airmen to Britain during the war years.

His esteem as an historian amongst veterans was so high that scores of them gave him their copies of photographs they had taken or collected during the war. Roger Freeman’s life-long dedication to the Eighth was formally honoured by the Mighty Eighth Museum in Pooler, Georgia, who named their Research Center in his memory.

The Roger Freeman print collection is only partly composed of the prints gifted to him by servicemen over the course of his life. There are also substantial numbers of prints taken by official US Army and press agency photographers to record the Eighth’s life in Britain, both on and off duty, for ‘the folks back home’ and for the official unit histories.

Much of the information associated with each print is written by hand on the reverse of the photograph or, even more vulnerably, on a post-it note stuck to the back of the image. I see a crucial part of my role as ensuring the long-term survival of these vital scraps of information that provide the clues – and sometimes the answers! – to identifying the aircraft and servicemen and women in the photographs. I am really excited to be a part of this identification process and feel privileged to have this chance to work through packets of photographs, beginning with black and white images of the Fighter Groups that were stationed in Britain.

Lucy May