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Archive collections 

We have brought together collections of data, photographs, and documents about the United States Army Air Forces in Britain during the Second World War to populate the American Air Museum's archive. 

 

IWM 

IWM's collections sit at the heart of the American Air Museum’s archive. We are always working to highlight more of the collections we hold concerning the impact and experiences of Americans in Britain during the Second World War in the archive.  

The Roger Freeman collection 

IWM acquired the Roger Freeman collection in 2012. The collection consists of approximately 15,000 prints and slides assembled by Roger Freeman (1928–2005), aviation historian and East Anglian native

Roger Freeman was a farmer’s son who lived close to Boxted airfield in Essex, used by the Eighth Air Force during the Second World War. His teenage enthusiasm for the airfield developed into a life-long interest, and he published many highly respected books on the US air forces in Britain, whilst making his living as a farmer. 

Roger collected images from veterans and official sources, identified and sorted them. Most of these images are black and white but a sizeable proportion of them are in colour. The colour photographs in particular offer a fresh view of Second World War military life. 

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Unit histories

Many USAAF units produced an unofficial unit history in the months after the Second World War ended. These often supply a tongue-in-cheek record of the conflict and include photo montages showing various aspects of base life. Many also contain rosters of serving personnel. 

IWM have digitised our collection of 25 unofficial unit histories, which are fully downloadable and searchable. We believe the collection to be one of the largest in the UK.  

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IWM's collections

You can find examples of art, documents, exhibits, sound, photographs, film and aircraft from IWM’s rich collections across the American Air Museum’s archive. Many of these are from collections too small to name separately. 

You can find them listed under the collection title ‘IWM collections’, You can also find out more about IWM's collections in our stories

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Partner collections

The American Air Museum's archive is owned and maintained by IWM, but also includes information and images from a variety of other sources- some of which has been provided by the organisations and individuals we’ve worked with below. 

Historic England 

Historic England ‘s collection of over 700 aerial photographs document the construction and development of airfields used by the US Army Air Forces in Britain during the Second World War. The images were taken by reconnaissance units of the USAAF and RAF between 1941 and 1947.  

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Historic England have also supplied GIS (geographic information system) data relating to airfields used by the US Army Air Forces in the UK, which appear as perimeters on maps in the archive.  

National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force 

The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force’s veteran’s database holds basic biographical information about people who served with the Eighth Air Force during the Second World War.  

The veteran’s database has been used to seed many of the people records in our archive.

Information originating from the veteran’s database has been identified with the source message: Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia. 

Eighth in the East

Eighth in the East have contributed over a hundred 1940s official Air Ministry Record site plans of airfields, hospitals and headquarter sites used by the Eighth Air Force.  

During the Second World War the Air Ministry produced a site plan for all airfields in the United Kingdom and abroad. 

These site plans show runways, buildings and include a key showing what the building was constructed for, its war time function and the relevant blueprint drawing number. 

All the record site plans were obtained from the RAF Museum and were digitised by Eighth in the East’s partners at the Norfolk Record Office. 

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Bottisham Airfield Museum 

Bottisham Airfield Museum have contributed over 700 photographs, which give a fascinating insight into life on the airbase, the airmen who were based there, along with the aircraft they piloted. 

Bottisham’s collections were digitised and added to the American Air Museum’s archive through collaboration between Bottisham Airfield Museum, IWM and Eighth in the East in 2015.  

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Nuthampstead Airfield Museum 

Nuthampstead Airfield Museum have contributed over 500 photographs which depict many of the personnel and aircraft who made up the 398th Bomb Group. They are a rich archival resource for families and researchers with relatives who served with the unit.  

Nuthampstead’s collections were digitised and added to the American Air Museum’s archive through collaboration between Nuthampstead Airfield Museum, IWM and Eighth in the East in 2016.  

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William L Beigel 

American military casualty researcher Bill Beigel has contributed his collection of American airmen’s casualty records, gathered between 1999 and 2014.  

Bill’s collection consists of over 200 Individual Deceased Personnel Files (IDPFs). These are official documents which outline circumstances surrounding an individual’s death, and the disposition of their remains (if known).  

Some of the information from these IDPFs has been extracted due to its sensitive nature. If you require access to the full, unedited file please contact Bill Beigel via his website. 

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466th Bomb Group  

The 466th Bomb Group Historian, Chris Brassfield (aka 466th Historian) has contributed over 1,500 photographs from the 466th Bomb Group’s archives along with information relating to over 2,000 people, aircraft, and missions gathered while researching his crew history book: Attlebridge Arsenal  

We are grateful to Chris for all his efforts to add these collections to the American Air Museum’s archive since 2014. 

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