Photos Colour and Colourised Photos of WW2 & earlier conflicts

Venus, the bulldog mascot of the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Vansittart, taken in 1941.


Original image A4998 IWM Collection.
© Colourised by Tom Marshall
A British soldier inspects an abandoned Italian Fiat Ansaldo L3/35* light tank left behind after a battle with British armoured cars on the Libyan frontier, 26 July 1940.


Given its dimensions, armament and lack of a turret, the Carro Veloce Ansaldo-Fiat tipo CV 35 was actually a tankette, not a tank.
The L3 'tank' was developed from the British Vickers Carden Lloyd Mk VI, four of which Italy had purchased in 1929. After a few prototypes, the CV3 (“Carro Veloce”/ fast car, 3,3 ton) was accepted in 1933 and issued to the mechanized cavalry in 1934.
In 1935, an improved version of the CV33 was introduced: the CV35 (renamed L3/35 in 1938) featured a simplified superstructure made of bolted armor plates instead of riveted, and two 8MM Breda Model 35 machine guns (later Model 38) instead of the single 6,5mm Fiat 14 machine gun. The new armament was also retrofitted to the first production batches of the CV33.
Measuring 3,17 m (10.4 ft) in length, 1,4 m (4.59 ft) wide, and standing only 1,3 m (4.27 ft) tall, exceptional agility was required for entering or exiting a CV 33/35 tankette.
The conquest of Ethiopia in 1936, followed by the long but victorious Spanish Civil War, made the small CV tanks famous around the world and beyond their actual merit. Several armies, including the Chinese, purchased them by the hundreds but in North Africa its light armour, only 6 to 13,5 mm thick, gave little protection, even against the .55 caliber (14 mm) Boys anti-tank rifles mounted on British armoured cars.
Note: Italian tactical markings are fairly simple to follow. A colored rectangle identifies the company (1st red, 2nd sky blue, 3rd yellow), the number of white bars identifies the platoon with the individual tank’s number in the platoon above the rectangle. In this case, this vehicle was the first vehicle of the 3rd Platoon from the 1st Company (red). Command tanks at Battalion or Regiment level used black and white background/bars.
* The IWM’s caption states that this machine is a L3/33 but the hull is clearly bolted which in my opinion makes it a L3/35.
Original: IWM (E396)
A captured German tank at Saleux, an A7V, with the name 'Elfriede III', used by the enemy for the first time at Villers-Bretonneux, in the attack of 24 April 1918.


It was captured by ‘A’ Coy 1st Battalion Royal Tank Corps.
(photo taken May 26 1918)
(Colorised by Frédéric Duriez from France)
Supporting troops of the 1st Australian Division walking on a duckboard track near Hooge, in the Ypres Sector. They form a silhouette against the sky as they pass towards the front line to relieve their comrades, whose attack the day before won Broodseinde Ridge and deepened the Australian advance.’ 5 October 1917.


Colour: @ColourisedPieceofJake
A sergeant of the 4th Btn., 3rd NZ Rifles Brigade visiting a Mle 1914 Hotchkiss machine gun post occupied by men from the 44e régiment d'infanterie near Louvencourt, Somme. 22 April 1918. Photo taken by Henry Armytage Sanders
A veteran of the New Zealand contingent at Anzac Day commemorations in Sydney, 25 April 1937.


For those followers unfamiliar with the term, ANZAC is the acronym coined during the First World War to describe the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who first landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey, on the morning of the 25 April 1915.
As the Sydney Morning Herald wrote in 1937:
'Anzac was first an exploit, then a great name, and is now an all-embracing tradition. The exploit itself was in its hour almost a failure. By some error to which the darkness and the offshore current contributed, the landing was made a mile away from the designed place, which was to have been much closer to Gaba Tepe.'
Landing at the wrong location due in part to tidal currents, the ANZAC forces faced fierce Turkish defences, forcing them to dig in to the steep cliffs above the beach; a position that would remain largely unchanged for much of the following eight months. The original objective of cutting a path up the peninsula to take Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) never came close to being realised.
The ultimate withdrawal of Allied forces in December 1915 under the cover of darkness was perhaps the most successive aspect of the entire campaign. But the military failure gave rise to popular sentiments of Australian and New Zealand national identity that continue to reverberate in both countries over a century later.
The day is one recognised by Australian and New Zealanders to pause and pay our respects to all those who have served in military and peace-keeping missions around the world, and remember those who gave up their lives doing so.
* 25 April ANZAC DAY *
Members of A Company, 2/12th Battalion who helped silence a Japanese mountain gun on Mount Prothero.
This image has also been identified as (from left to right) members of B Company; NX86190 A 'Skinny' McQueen; NX111498 A Ron Lord; VX70488 A Eric Willey; QX18277 Alan F Hackett.
The Battle of the Shaggy Ridge was part of the Finisterre Range campaign, consisting of a number of actions fought by Australian and Japanese troops in Papua New Guinea in World War II.
Shaggy Ridge was a 6.5-kilometre (4.0 mi) long spur dotted by several rocky outcrops, which the Australians dubbed "Green Pinnacle", "The Pimple", "Green Sniper's Pimple" and "McCaughey's Knoll".[5] To the north and north-west of Shaggy Ridge, two high features were identified as "Prothero I" and "Prothero II", while the Kankiryo Saddle to the north-east joined Faria Ridge and divided the Faria River from the Mindjim River.
Following the Allied capture of Lae and Nadzab, the Australian 9th Division had been committed to a quick follow up action on the Huon Peninsula in an effort to cut off the withdrawing Japanese. Once the situation on the Huon Peninsula stabilised in late 1943, the 7th Division had pushed into the Markham and Ramu Valleys towards the Finisterre Range with a view to pushing north towards the coast around Bogadjim, where they would meet up with Allied forces advancing around the coast from the Huon Peninsula, before advancing towards Madang.
A series of minor engagements followed in the foothills of the Finisterre Range before the Australians came up against strong resistance centred around the Kankiryo Saddle and Shaggy Ridge, which consisted of several steep features, dotted with heavily defended rocky outcrops.
After a preliminary assault on a forward position dubbed The Pimple in late December 1943, the Australians renewed their assault in mid-January 1944 and over the course of a fortnight eventually captured the Japanese positions on Shaggy Ridge and the Kankiryo Saddle, after launching a brigade-sized attack up three avenues of advance. In the aftermath, the Australians pursued the Japanese to the coast and subsequently took Madang, linking up with US and Australian forces.

Acting Wing Commander Colin F. Gray, New Zealand's highest scoring ace with 27 kills, pictured with his Spitfire MkIXC (EN520) at Souk-el-Kehemis while commanding No 81 Squadron, RAF in North Africa.


Colin Falkland Gray was born in Christchurch, New Zealand on 9th November 1914. Gray and his twin brother, Kenneth, applied for short service commissions in the RAF in April 1937. His brother was accepted but Gray failed for medical reasons.
In January 1938 he failed again but passed the following September. On 16th December he left for the UK in the RMS Rangitata.
Gray began his training at 1 E&RFTS Hatfield on 24th January 1939, moving to 11 FTS Shawbury on 18th April. After two weeks at AGS Penrhos he was posted to 11 Group Pool at St. Athan, where he converted to Hurricanes.
On 20th November 1939 Gray joined 54 Squadron at Hornchurch. He shared in the destruction of a Me109 on 24th May 1940 and returned to Kenley badly damaged without brakes, flaps, airspeed indicator or guns.
Gray destroyed a Me109 on 13th July, two Me109's on the 24th, a probable Me109 on the 25th, two Me109's on 12th August and two Me109's on the 15th.
He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 15th August 1940).
On 18th August Gray destroyed a Me110, shared another, damaged two more and damaged a Do17. He shot down a Me110 on the 24th, and Me109's on the 25th and 31st, another Me109 and a probable He111 on 1st September, a Me109 and a Me110 on the 2nd and a Me109 and a shared Me110 on the 3rd.
In December 1940 Gray was posted to 43 Squadron as 'B' Flight Commander but returned to 54 Squadron on 16th January 1941 to be 'A' Flight Commander. He went to No. 1 Squadron at Redhill on 12th June as 'B' Flight Commander and shared a He59 on the 16th. Flying with 41 Squadron on 2nd August 1941, he shot down a Me109, which crashed on its own airfield at Le Havre.
He was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 20th September 1941).
Posted to Debden on 28th September to command 403 Squadron, Gray was recalled to Tangmere three days later to take command of 616 Squadron at Westhampnett. At the end of this tour Gray was posted to HQ 9 Group, Preston as Squadron Leader Tactics on 25th February 1942.
He went to 64 Squadron at Fairlop as a supernumerary on 28th September and took command of the squadron on 1st November.
Gray was posted overseas in late December and reported to HQ 333 Group at Algiers on 19th January 1943. He joined 81 Squadron at Gibraltar as CO on the 24th and on the 27th flew across to Tingley airfield, south-west of Bone. On 22nd February Gray probably destroyed a Me109, on 2nd March shared in the probable destruction of another, on the 23rd destroyed a Mc202, on the 25th and 27th two Me109's, on 3rd April a Me109, on the 18th a probable Me109, on the 20th a Me109 and another shared and two more Me109's on the 23rd and the 28th.
He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 15th May 1943).
On 1st June 1943 Gray was made Wing Commander Flying 322 Wing at Ta Kali, Malta. He shot down a Me109 on 14th June, a Mc202 on the 17th and a Me109 on 10th July, the day the invasion of Sicily took place.
The Wing moved to Lentini airfield on 19th July. On the 25th Gray led the Wing to attack a large force of Ju52's that were landing supplies on beaches near Milazzo. 21 were destroyed, two by Gray, and four enemy fighters were shot down.
On 7th September 1943 Gray went to HQ MEF Cairo and returned to the UK in October. He was given command of 2 CTW Balado Bridge on the 30th, received his DSO from the King on 9th November and was awarded a second Bar to the DFC (gazetted 15th November 1943).
He was posted to 61 OTU on 4th December as OC Training Wing. He went to the Fighter Leaders School at Milfield on 8th June 1944 as OC Spitfire Wing and on 27th July was made Wing Leader at Detling, moving two weeks later to the Lympne Wing.
Gray led the Wing until January 1945, when he was posted to Cranwell for a Senior Commanders Course, after which he became Station Commander at RAF Skeabrae. Granted a permanent commission in April 1945, Gray stayed on in the RAF and held a series of appointments and commands before retiring at his own request on 31st March 1961 as a Group Captain.
He returned to New Zealand and worked for the Unilever Company, retiring as Personnel Director on 9th November 1979.
Gray died in 1995.
The two-seater Spitfire in New Zealand flies in the colours of this aircraft and is available for joyrides.
IWM photo
For Anzac Day 2021, this is Captain Harry Delamere Dansey (service number 16/1017) of the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion, New Zealand Division during WWI.


Born in in 1874, Harry was the grandson of a Maori chief on his mother's side. Born in Taupo, he worked as an engineer in Auckland before enlisting in 1915 and joining the NZEF (New Zealand Expeditionary Force) with the 2nd Maori Contingent just after the conclusion of the Gallipoli campaign. Along with two of his younger brothers, George and Roger (who was with the NZNC at Gallipoli), Harry served on the Western Front and finally returned home in august 1919. All three brothers survived the war. Post war Harry was awarded the Military Cross.
Following the Gallipoli campaign the NZEF was reorganised which included the formation of the Pioneer Battalion by merging the NZNC (New Zealand Native Contingent) with the OMR (Otago Mounted Rifles) in March 1916. In September 1917 the unit was renamed the New Zealand Maori (Pioneer) Battalion as the arrival of several waves of Maori reinforcements meant that the entire battalion could be manned by Maori* with the remaining former OMR men being absorbed by other units in the Division.
Pioneers acted as a type of field engineer labour, constructing trenches, roads, fieldworks, camps, camouflage screens etc. This meant they were worked close, to and often at, the front lines which meant they were often the target of enemy artillery, machine guns and gas attacks. Although they didn't fight as regular infantry they did conduct night raids on enemy trenches. Indeed, in July 1916 Harry Dansey used aerial photos to create a scale model that was used to plan their first night raid which was lead by his brother Roger.
*Not just Maori but many volunteers from various Pacific islands such as Niue, Rarotonga and the Cook Islands served with the Battalion. Being from small, isolated Pacific islands they suffered terribly from European diseases, especially during the winter.
Source: IWM HU 120928
A group of Australian and New Zealand personnel examine a CAC Boomerang from 5 (Tactical Reconnaissance) Squadron RAAF, based at Piva Airfield at Torokina, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, probably in January 1945.


Barely two months after Pearl Harbour, Japanese bombers attacked Darwin, Australia’s Northern Territory capital, in the first of 97 raids.
Australia had never before produced a frontline combat aircraft. The new plane had to use whatever components were already on hand: engines from a torpedo bomber, structural elements from a trainer. It was designed by Friedrich David, who was officially an enemy alien. Born with few advantages but succeeding through dogged persistence, the Commonwealth Aircraft Company CA-12 through CA-19 Boomerangs were true “Aussie battlers.”
An Austrian Jew, Fred David had been sent to Japan by Ernst Heinkel to save him from Nazi persecution. There he helped develop the Mitsubishi A5M “Claude” fighter and Aichi D3A “Val” dive bomber before the Kempeitai secret police began to show an unwelcome interest in him. Fleeing to Australia just as war broke out, David was interned as an enemy alien until CAC’s general manager, Wing Commodore Lawrence Wackett, arranged for his release and appointed him chief engineer. Even so, David had to report to the police every two weeks.
Australia was producing two military aircraft at the time: the obsolescent Bristol Beaufort torpedo bomber and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) Wirraway (Aboriginal for “challenge”), a trainer and general-purpose aircraft developed from the North American NA-16 - known as the Harvard I to Commonwealth forces. David designed the Boomerang around the Beaufort’s 1,200-hp Twin Wasp engine, reusing the jigs used to build the Wirraway’s wing, centre section, landing gear and tail assembly.
Initial tests brought good news and bad. The Boomerang’s agility and high rate of climb meant it could hold its own in mock dogfights against a Bell P-39 Airacobra and a Curtiss Kittyhawk (the RAF name for the P-40D and later variants), but its comparatively underpowered engine was a concern, especially above 15,000 feet.
The RAAF ordered 105 CA-12 Boomerangs in February 1942, the same month as the initial raid on Darwin, receiving the first aircraft just five months later. An order for 145 more led to the CA-13, CA-14 and CA-19 versions, each with minor improvements. A single CA-14 was fitted with a General Electric supercharger to improve high-altitude performance, but it barely fit into the compact fuselage and its large intake resulted in buffeting problems. By this time, though, the Boomerang was being replaced by faster Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vcs (the first 70 of which reached Australia in January 1943) and P-40D Kittyhawks from Britain and the US.
After RAAF fighter squadrons reequipped with Spitfires and Kittyhawks, the Boomerang found its true calling as a close support and tactical reconnaissance aircraft with Nos. 4 and 5 squadrons in New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Borneo. The fighter’s armament, ruggedness and agility suited it for this new role. Operating in pairs, one at treetop height and one flying top cover, Boomerangs dealt with enemy positions ahead of advancing Allied forces. In addition to employing their guns, they could carry bombs weighing up to 500 pounds on a central hardpoint, as well as 20-pound smoke bombs to mark targets.
No. 5 Squadron also received Boomerangs in 1943, and was sent to Bougainville as part of No. 84 (Army Co-operation) Wing. On April 16, 1945, when two Australian brigades were held up by a Japanese force blocking a vital road, No. 5’s Boomerangs placed smoke bombs just 25 yards apart and 300 yards from the Australian front line, enabling Royal New Zealand Air Force F4U Corsairs to clear the way, with no Australian casualties.
Group Captain G.N. Roberts, who commanded the New Zealand Air Task Force, said, “The excellent pinpointing by the Boomerangs has made the job a great deal easier and much more effective.”
Text courtesy of
Image courtesy of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand
Colour: Benjamin Thomas Colours of Yesterday
• Anzac Day •
A 25 Pounder gun of the 29th Battery of 6th New Zealand Field Regiment fires at night from its position in a vineyard near Sora, Italy, 1st June 1944.


Their position near the Fibreno river provided a lush and damp environment for the troops, a much welcomed change to the dry and dusty roads they had covered in their advance towards Sora to drive out the German occupiers.
The Italian campaign was New Zealand’s primary combat contribution to the war following the hard-won victory over Axis forces in North Africa. Almost all the New Zealanders who served in Italy did so as members of the 2nd New Zealand Division – a highly competent fighting force affectionately known as the 'Div'.
The men of the Div endured harsh winters and 18 months of gruelling combat before ending the war in the city of Trieste in May 1945. The legacy of the campaign was profound and long-lasting: more than 2100 New Zealanders were killed and 6700 wounded during the liberation of Italy; place-names like Orsogna, Cassino and Faenza continue to evoke the memory of their contribution and sacrifices. (
(Source - National Library of New Zealand)
(Photographer - George Frederick Kaye)
(Colourised by Joshua Barrett from the UK)
Gunners of HMAS Shropshire prepare some shells for her secondary armament with a with a 'personal message' for the Imperial Japanese Army.


HMS Shropshire was a Royal Navy (RN) heavy cruiser of the London sub-class of County-class cruisers. She is the only warship to have been named after Shropshire, England. Completed in 1929, Shropshire served with the RN until 1942, when she was transferred to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) following the loss of sister ship HMAS Canberra.
The cruiser was involved in the Battle of Luzon during January 1945, during which she was attacked by two kamikaze aircraft: one narrowly missed, while the second was shot down by HMAS Gascoyne close enough for debris to hit Shropshire. Shropshire fired in anger for the last time during the Corregidor landings, then briefly returned to Australia.
Shropshire returned to the Philippines in time for the Japanese surrender of the islands, then proceeded to Japan, and was present at Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945 for the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender.
The cruiser's wartime service with the RAN was recognised with five battle honours: "New Guinea 1943–44", "Leyte Gulf 1944", Lingayen Gulf 1945", "Borneo 1945", and "Pacific 1945".
Only five personnel died during the ship's RAN service, but although all five occurred during World War II, none were the result of enemy action; one drowned, and the other four were the result of accidents.
Commissioned as HMAS Shropshire, the ship remained in RAN service until 1949, and was sold for scrap in 1954.
Cutella Airfield, south of Vasto, Abruzzo’s Region, Italy, 1944.


An RAF Wing Commander inspects a 1,000-lb GP bomb slung beneath the fuselage of a Curtiss Kittyhawk Mark IV of No. 450 Squadron RAAF in a dispersal.
Two 500-lb GP bombs are also slung from the wing loading points. The Kittyhawk was widely employed during the Campaign of Italy as fighter-bomber with good results.
Colour: ColourisedPieceofJake
Colourised PIECE of JAKE
Source: WorldWarPhotos

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