Second World War Propoganda Posters released into Public Domain on Wikimedia

Thanks to a partnership with Wikimedia UK, the National Archives has been able to digitise and release into the public domain over 350 images from our collection of almost 2,000 original artworks by war artists working for the Ministry of Information during the Second World War. We hope we will eventually be able to release the whole collection.

This project aims to make the best possible use of these images across Wikimedia projects and ultimately to link The National Archives’ catalogue back to definitive information on Commons. We have done some very basic categorisation of these images but we know very little about some of the artists and many of the works are anonymous.

Here’s a selection of some of the artwork ranging from encouragement to lend a hand on the land, to saving bones for scrap and taking care in the blackout.  More of the collection can be found here.

INF3-101 Food Production Lend a hand with the potato harvest (workers in basket)

INF3-104 Food Production Lend a hand on the land Whatever your front line job Artist Showell

INF3-111 Forces Recruitment Skilled hands are needed - join the RAF Artist Grey

INF3-115 Forces Recruitment ATS the job for you

INF3-120 Forces Recruitment ATS and WAAF

INF3-137 War Effort And they will say This was our finest hour Artist Pat Keely

INF3-160 Fighting Fit in the Factory Artist A R Thomson

INF3-164 Britain expects that you too, this day, will do your duty Artist Forster

INF3-176 Fuel Economy Turn that gas down

INF3-195 Fuel Economy The worker who left the lights on - don't be fuel-ish (woman factory worker) Artist H M Bateman

INF3-207 Salvage Salvage saves Shipping (torpedoed ship sinking) Artist E Oliver

INF3-217 Salvage Still more bones needed for salvage (rag and bone man with dog) Artist Gilroy

INF3-225 Make do and mend (Stuffed doll figure patching cloth)

INF3-231 Anti-rumour and careless talk Be like dad - keep mum! (set of twelve human figures talking) Artist Grimes

INF3-280 Health Diphtheria is deadly - protect your child by immunisation Artist J H Dowd

INF3-293 Road safety Look out in the blackout - think before you cross the road Artist Pat Keely

Anniversary of VE Day – 8th May 1945

On the anniversary of VE Day I have been taking a look at some old newsreel of the celebrations and trying to imagine what it must have been like to hear the news and know that a six year nightmare was nearly at an end.

But try as I might, I find that it is almost easier to imagine what it must have felt like to be “at war” than what it must have felt like on the 8th May 1945 when you knew that, at least in Europe, the war was over.

These scenes captured by Pathe and shown in cinemas in a special extended Pathe Gazette, can only provide a snapshot of the “spontaneous” celebrations.  A series of black and white newsreel shots, many set up for the camera, which are now such familiar images we almost take them for granted.

But inside each and every head in the crowd are memories of hardship, pain and fear, grief for loved ones lost, lives on hold, homes and families destroyed, friendships made, courage, relief, disbelief, joy and so much more – such intensity and variety of emotions that there isn’t a word which encapsulates it all.

With luck it is a word we will never need to define again.

The Fruits of Victory, 1945, Pathe Gazette

THE FRUITS OF VICTORY

 

RAF Airfields of World War 2 by Jonathan Falconer

RAF Airfields of World War 2 by Jonathan Falconer

A complete and unique single-volume illustrated reference book covering all of the RAF’s frontline airfields in the UK during World War 2.

RAF AIRFIELDS OF WORLD WAR 2 by Jonathan Falconer

RAF AIRFIELDS OF WORLD WAR 2 by Jonathan Falconer

 

For all those interested in the activities of the RAF during the Second World War, RAF Airfields of World War 2 provides comprehensive information about all the frontline RAF airfields in Britain, including all the RAF Fighter, Bomber, Coastal and Transport Command airfields and bases of the period.

This fascinating books provides a short history of each airfield, first-person accounts and information on airfield buildings and is illustrated with photographs and maps.

Chapters also take a look at airfield construction and organisation, orders of battle for each command at notable points of the war.  Of great interest are the tabular listings of RAF frontline airfields, which provide full details of location and user squadrons/units.

Present-day usage of the airfields and the buildings is also covered.

Of great interest also are the first-hand accounts by veterans of the four wartime Commands add a layer of compelling personal testimony to the book.

The author originally published two books on RAF Fighter and Bomber airfields of World War 2 in the early 1990s, which are now out of print, but this book contains significantly new text and illustrations as well as covering RAF Coastal and Transport Command for the first time.

RAF Airfields of World War 2 by Jonathan Falconer was published in January 2013

 

Sisters, Secrets and Sacrifice – Two brave women who led double lives in Nazi occupied France

Sisters, Secrets and Sacrifice: The True Story of WWII Special Agents Eileen and Jacqueline Nearne

By Susan Ottaway.

What must life have been like for two young women plucked from their ordinary lives and transformed into SEO Agents fighting the Nazis in occupied France?  And what was life like when the war was over and it was time to pick up where they left off?

It is over seventy years since the start of the Second World War and there are still so many awe inspiring tales to be told.

This new book tells the story of two amazing women. Sisters in arms who faced unimaginable danger, and made astonishing sacrifices, the effects of which were to last long after they returned to civvy street.

False identities, hidden radios, secret messages – all the stuff of Hollywood films. But what followed was the sickening reality of capture, torture and hard labour in a German concentration camp –  experiences not many would have had the strength and courage to survive.

Their hidden contribution to the war effort cost them their youth, their chances of motherhood and almost cost them their sanity. They were remarkable women who went on to lead modest lives, keeping their heroic past to themselves.

Now it is time for the inspirational story of these two brave sisters to be told.

Sisters, Secrets and Sacrifice: The True Story of WWII Special Agents Eileen and Jacqueline Nearne by Susan Ottaway is published by Harper Element and you can order your copy now.  Sisters, Secrets and Sacrifice also available for Kindle.

 

PATHE NEWSREEL – OCCUPIED PARIS
And for a look inside occupied Paris during WW2 take a look at this Pathe Newsreel It Happened in Paris (1944).

 

At great danger, Pathe cameraman Gaston Madru concealed his film camera in a bicycle basket under a pile of wine bottles and then rode through the streets of Nazi occupied Paris. He filmed Nazi flags flying from buildings and offices of the German Slave Labour Todt organisation. There are shots of a cinema for German soldiers only, German officers at the races and a Nazi rally at City hall.

We see Nazis in the heart of Paris – at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and the Arc De Triomphe. We also see ordinary Parisians queuing for bread and fighting breaking out in the streets as they object to the Nazi presence.

And then as the long occupation nears its end, we see German troops  on the retreat, resistance posters being put up and celebrations as the French flag is once more able to fly freely .

 

Who Do You Think You Are Live!

Graham appeared for the second year at Who Do You Think You Are Live this weekend. Alongside author and historian Neil Storey, he identified and dated hundreds of vintage military photographs brought to the helpdesk by visitors to the popular genealogy show.

Meanwhile, Janet was helping out on the Rootschat stand – promoting the biggest and best Free Family History Forum in Britain!