Human stories

Newly arrived American prisoners of war with their luggage at Stalag Luft III, Sagan, amongst them Alexander Jefferson a Black airman of the 332nd Fighter Group. ©IWM

Life behind the wire at Stalag Luft III

On 12 August, 1944, Alexander Jefferson was flying his P-51 Mustang over the French Riviera, when he noticed a string of blinking red lights – anti-aircraft fire. His aircraft critically hit, Jefferson bailed out, and was soon captured by the Germans, beginning a nine-month ordeal as a Prisoner of War.

YouTube teaser image with B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 100th Bomb Group and a portrait of Robert "Rosie" Rosenthal

The true story of the 100th Bomb Group

The 100th Bomb Group is one of the most famous of the Second World War - earning the nickname 'The Bloody Hundredth'. Their experiences are featured in the war drama Masters of the Air. But where did their legend come from?
"Doc" Kennedy plays the piano before changing for dinner in comfortable surroundings of the piano room at Stanbridge Earls. © IWM D 14530

"Flak Flarms": Red Cross Rest Homes and the war of emotions

Situated in large English country houses and hotels, rest homes were set up by the Eighth Air Force and jointly run by the Red Cross to provide an antidote to the mental stresses of air combat. They aimed to prevent emotional breakdowns among crew members by "returning them to a world they knew before".

Rhoda Robinson standing by her portrait UPL 34879

Rhoda Robinson's Red Cross Aeroclub

Rhoda Robinson was one of thousands of members of the American Red Cross sent to Britain to set up Aeroclubs at Eighth and Ninth Air Force bases. Through their hard work, service clubs were transformed into morale-boosting 'homes away from home'.

Youtube teaser showing Oppenheimer in front of a mushroom cloud ©Wikimedia commons

Oppenheimer and the race to build the atomic bomb

As the Second World War began, so did the race to build the atomic bomb. Germany began with an overwhelming head start, but in 1945 the Allies beat them to it. This is the story of the world’s first Nuclear arms race.
. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, left, and U.S. President George Bush signing bilateral documents during Gorbachev's official visit to the United States US Public Domain

George H W Bush, from pilot to President

George Herbert Walker Bush was an aviator in the US Navy, and 41st President of the United States, his experience during the Second World War shaped the wars of the 20th Century.
P-47 Thunderbolts of the 78th Fighter Group at Duxford ©IWM (FRE 5604)

D-Day at Duxford

Duxford's 78th Fighter Group were heavily involved in supporting the Normandy invasion, flying missions on 6 June and over the summer of 1944.
Lonnie Moseley with his P-47 Thunderbolt ©IWM

Lonnie Moseley and his incredible 4 July escape

In the early hours of 4 July 1944, Second Lieutenant Lonnie Moseley woke up, ate his breakfast and reported to briefing room at Duxford. Within hours, he would be faced with making three life or death decisions.
Capt Edwin Caudill of the 4th Fighter Group the Station Adjuntant practises with his bow and arrow with which he has shot several rabbits and partridges ©IWM (FRE 3)

American airmen in Britain during the Second World War

Over two million American servicemen passed through Britain during the Second World War. In 1944, at the height of activity, up to half a million were based there with the United States Army Air Forces.