World War Two COLOUR photographs show life in Hitler’s Nazi Germany | History | News

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Second World War in colour: Rare photos show life during the conflict with Germany

A new book from the Imperial War Museums (IWM) includes rarely seen colour images taken by official photographers, as well as news agencies, freelancers and even air crews, many of which are being published for the first time.

The scarcity of colour film and the high cost of reproducing it in printed publications during the World War Two means that for most people today the war is a black and white conflict.

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General Dwight D Eisenhower and his senior commanders at Supreme Allied Headquarters in London, 1944

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US Eighth Air Force, on a mission to attack the U-boat pens at Lorient


The images in this book show the vivid hues of the flames and fabrics, the intense blue skies, the sun-tanned faces and the myriad of colours of military camouflage

Ian Carter


But the photographs in the book, The Second World War in Colour, bring it vividly to life with images that look as if they were taken yesterday – or come from a film set.

They range from the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force preparing parachutes for use during the invasion of Europe to shots of troops in training, stationed in Italy and Tunisia, and sightseeing in Greece.

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Wing Commander James ÔJohnnieÕ Johnson, with his Spitfire and pet Labrador Sally in Normandy

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German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper abandoned in dry dock at Kiel

There are images of General Dwight D Eisenhower and his senior commanders at Supreme Allied Headquarters in London in February 1944 and Winston Churchill and his chiefs of staff in the garden at Downing Street in May 1945.

They reveal life on the Home Front, with pictures of bombed out buildings, evacuated children and wounded airmen in their “hospital blues” alongside factories and female plane spotters.

Images portray the fighting fronts, with rare photography of flamethrower tanks in action, Mustangs and Spitfires in flight and the RAF’s top-scoring fighter pilot, Wing Commander Johnnie Johnson, with his pet dog Sally.

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Land Army girls sawing larch poles for use as pit props at the Women’s Timber Corps training camp

No colour film was supplied to British official photographers to document the D-Day landings.

But there are colour pictures of the last months of the war in Europe, including Dutch celebrations after the liberation of Eindhoven, and an image of the spontaneous celebrations of VE Day in Whitehall, central…

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