Second World War Stories

B-24 Liberator (serial number 42-100360) nicknamed "Luck and Stuff" flies in formation with other Liberators of the 446th Bomb Group during a mission ©IWM (FRE 1753)

Big Week: How Operation Argument changed the tide of the air war in Europe

It was 20 February 1944 and ground crews on flight lines across East Anglia readied their aircraft for a mission. This mission, the first of Operation Argument, would constitute an all-out effort to wrestle air superiority from the Luftwaffe. The success of Overlord rested on the outcome of “Big Week”.

Lieutenant Vernon R Richards of the 361st Fighter Group fliying his P-51 Mustang (B7-R, serial number 44-13357) nicknamed "Tika IV". ©IWM (FRE 6210)

How the Eighth Air Force defeated the Luftwaffe

By the end of 1943, the US Eighth Air Force was at breaking point, German flak and fighters were shooting down bombers in their hundreds. But just one year later, the Eighth Air Force were masters of the air over Europe. So how did they do it?
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".

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'.