Second World War Stories

Devastation caused by the atomic bomb to trees half a mile from ground zero at Nagasaki. ©IWM (MH 2638)

Why were Atomic Bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were experiments in a new kind of warfare, whose full implications were not entirely understood at the time. The bombing of these cities in August 1945 brought an end to the Second World War, but at a terrible cost to the Japanese civilian population.
The battleship USS NEVADA, beached at Hospital Point after her unsuccessful attempt to put to sea. ©IWM (NYF 9311)

Why did Japan attack Pearl Harbor?

Japan attacked the U.S Pacific Fleet at its base at Pearl Harbor on the 7th of December 1941, but what led to that decision? Why did the Japanese attack the USA? - The answer is oil.
B-25 Mitchell in American Air Museum ©IWM

Joseph Heller, Catch-22 and the Second World War

Published in 1961 by American author Joseph Heller, Catch-22 is a satirical novel. Although Heller claimed it was a work of fiction, many of the characters and events in the book are parallel’s to Heller’s experience of the Second World War.

Would you push the nuclear button?

During the Cold War, global super powers dealt with the prospect of devastating nuclear consequences by adopting a strategy of mutually assured destruction. Suggesting that you might be willing to ‘press the nuclear button’ had considerable global consequences
Locals and United States troops meet at the Dove Inn, Burton Bradstock, Dorset, 1944. ©IWM (D 20142)

A Welcome to Britain

The film A Welcome to Britain presents a guide to British society, behaviour and wartime conditions and was made for American troops arriving in the UK prior to the Normandy Landings.
A B-17 Flying Fortress bombs an German aircraft factory in 1943.  The USAAF hoped daylight precision bombing would prove a winning strategy during World War II which would justify the independence of US Air power if it succeeded. US official photo

The Allied strategic bombing campaign

Over the course of the Second World War, the strategic bombing campaign developed from a limited force into a weapon of immense destructive power, with hundreds of cities subjected to air attack alongside military targets.
Cockpit photo of IWM's B-17 Flying Fortress ©IWM

Flying the B-17 Flying Fortress

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress dropped more bombs than any other US aircraft in the Second World War. A lot of these aircraft flew out of bases in England, but what was it like to fly?