Second World War Stories

Discover stories of how Britain and America’s relationship during the Second World War affected millions of people around the world.

"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".

B-29 Superfortress of the 9th Bomb Group, 20th Air Force in flight. ©IWM (FRE 11984)

B-29 Superfortress: The aircraft that bombed Hiroshima

The B-29 Superfortress is arguably the most important and controversial aircraft in human history. With the dubious honour of being history’s deadliest bomber and the only aircraft to drop a nuclear weapon in combat, its story is one of ground-breaking innovation, unimaginable destruction and decisions that would dictate the course of the 20th century.
A formation of B-17s of the 305th Bomb Group during a raid over Schweinfurt ©IWM

Black Thursday: The Second Schweinfurt Raid

On Thursday 14 October 1943, B-17 Flying Fortresses of the Eighth Air Force amassed for an all-out air offensive on the production plants of Schweinfurt. The long-range penetration into Germany would become a pivotal moment in the American strategic bombing campaign, earning the nickname "Black Thursday".

B-24 Liberators, including (serial number 41-24226 ) nicknamed "Joisey Bounce" of the 93rd Bomb Group fly in formation during a mission. ©IWM (FRE 11426)

The B-24 Liberator: A symbol of US industrial might

The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was vital to the US's strategic bombing campaign during the Second World War. During the conflict, B-24s served with every branch of the American armed forces and in every theatre of the war. Built in larger numbers than any other US aircraft, the B-24 would become a symbol of the industrial might of the American war machine.
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'.

P-47 Thunderbolt in flight © US Official Photograph (K4249)

Why did American pilots love the P-47 Thunderbolt?

The P-47 Thunderbolt is one of the most recognisable American fighter planes from the Second World War. . In this video, our expert Graham Rodgers walks us through the history and technical aspects of this iconic aircraft.
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.
P-47 Thunderbolt suspended in the American Air Museum ©IWM

The P-47 Thunderbolt, durable and deadly

The P-47 Thunderbolt was one of the leading American fighter aircraft of the Second World War. It saw widespread use in the European Theatre as an escort and ground attack aircraft.