Photos Colour and Colourised Photos of WW2 & earlier conflicts


Battle of Britain pilot Neville Frederick Duke (aged 19) from Tonbridge, Kent, pictured with a MkVb Spitfire of No 92 (East India) Squadron at RAF Biggin Hill in Kent, during the summer of 1941
(possibly Brian Kingcombe's Spitfire QJ-Y R6904)
Neville Frederick Duke
DSO, OBE, DFC & Two Bars, AFC, FRAeS
(11 January 1922 – 7 April 2007 - aged 85)
British test pilot and fighter ace of the Second World War. He was the most successful Western Allied ace in the Mediterranean Theatre, and was credited with the destruction of 27 enemy aircraft. After the end of the war, Duke was acknowledged as one of the world's foremost test pilots. In 1953, he became holder of the world air speed record when he flew a Hawker Hunter at 727.63 mph (1,171.01 km/h) over Littlehampton in West Sussex.
(Photo source - © IWM HU 112294)
Photographer - Cecil Beaton)
(Colourised by Jecinci)

Ventura Mark II, AE939 SB-C, of No. 464 Squadron RAAF based at Feltwell, Norfolk, in flight.
No. 464 Squadron RAAF was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) bomber squadron during World War II. Formed in 1942 in the United Kingdom with personnel from Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the Netherlands, the squadron served in the light bomber role, undertaking operations over France and the Low Countries, from bases in England. It also flew night fighter missions. Later, following D-Day, the squadron moved to France where it was used to interdict German transports and infrastructure. It further engaged in several low-level precision raids against Gestapo targets in France and Denmark. The squadron was disbanded in September 1945 following the conclusion of the war.

Five Malta-based pilots sitting in front of two fighter aircraft at Luqa. Third and fourth from the left, respectively are, Wing Commander J K Buchanan, Commanding Officer of No. 272 Squadron RAF, and Wing Commander M M Stephens, leader of the Hal Far Fighter Wing, shortly before the end of his tour of operations. Behind them is Wing Commander P P Hanks' Supermarine Spitfire Mark VC, BR498 'PP-H', which he flew as leader of the Luqa Fighter Wing, parked in front of a Bristol Beaufighter of No. 272 Squadron RAF.

R.C.A.F. Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Allen Davidson enjoying one of his many cigars while sitting on a 1000 lbs bomb in front of a Hawker Typhoon Mark IB at Welschap Airfield (Eindhoven, The Netherlands), September, 1944.

On September 18th a platoon of American paratroopers arrived at "Welschap" and recaptured the airfield which was occupied for 4 years by the Luftwaffe. A day later, the first British Airfield Recovery Units arrived at "Welschap", which immediately started closing more than 1650 bomb craters at the airfield. Not an easy task, because the Germans were still in the area.

Typhoon fighter-bombers of the 2nd Tactical Airforce (2TAF) were then stationed with the main task of providing air support to the land forces of the Allies. Despite the fact that the Germans still bombed the airport regularly, "Welschap" remained one of the most important advanced airports of the Allies until March 1945.

Handley Page Halifax III, photographed during a series of shots on a flight of the 28th January 1944. At the time of the photograph this aircraft was not allocated to any unit but was later given No. 51 sdqn RAF, as part of No. 4 Group RAF, as part of RAF Bomber Command's strategic bombing offensive against the Nazis, operating from RAF Snaith, in East Yorkshire.

Just two months later, this aircraft LV857, took off for a night sortie at 22.11 hrs on the 30th March 1944, from Snaith, and was shot down in the early hours 31st by a Me110 night-fighter (Oblt Martin Becker 1/NJG6) crashing 400 meters south of Rossbach. The crew were buried at Hannover cemetery.

Jack Percival George BINDER (1337685) Pilot.
Sergeant James BREAR (1521636) Flight Engineer.
Flight Sergeant Walter Austin GUY (1029598) Navigator.
Sergeant Frank KASHER (1592239) Air Gunner.
Sergeant Basil Hughes MENARY (1237634) Air Gunner.
Sergeant Edmund Joseph Paul MONK (1390097) Wireless Operator.
Warrant Officer Class II Raymond Hathaway WILSON (R/162866) Air Bomber.

Photographer: Charles E. Brown.
Credit: Authors Personal Collection (Via Raf Museum)

A team of RAF ground crew work on a Spitfire Mk VIII's Merlin engine at Darwin, Australia, c.1943.
The are attached to No. 54 (Spitfire) Squadron RAF, which originally served in Britain during the early part of WW2, but was relocated to Darwin airfield in Northern Australia in January 1943.
Depicted, from left to right: Corporal V. Morrow (Belfast, Northern Ireland), J. Fernand (Glasgow, Scotland), Leading Aircraftman S. Morris (London, UK), R. Anderson (Fifeshire, Scotland) and A. Ayers (Durham, UK).
Photographer: Argus newspaper, Melbourne
Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

Paratroopers inside the fuselage of an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley aircraft during training at RAF Ringway, Manchester, August 1942.
The Whitley was the RAF's largest bomber at the outbreak of war. In 1939 it soon became obsolete due to its slowness and vulnerability.
It was then handed over to Airborne Forces, being used for parachute training until superseded by the Albemarle and C-47. It carried the parachute assault parties for the raid on the Tragino Aqueduct in Italy in 1941 and the Bruneval Raid in February 1942.
For parachuting, the rear turret was removed and a circular aperture fitted with hinged doors was cut in the floor. Sitting with their feet in the hole, parachutists would launch themselves through the exit on the Parachute Jump Instructor's command.
As the hole was nearly three feet deep inexperienced parachutists were liable to smash their face on the opposite face of the floor opening, an event known as "ringing the bell". The effect of ringing the bell was dependant on the strength of the head strike but included bruising, broken noses, black eyes, and concussion as many Ringway students will testify!
The Whitley could carry 10 parachute soldiers with a radius of action of at least 500 miles. However its suitability for parachuting was regularly questioned and the eventual availability of more suitable transport aircraft later in the war led to it being phased out.
On the night of 29/30 April 1942 No. 58 Squadron flying Whitleys bombed the Port of Ostend in Belgium. This was the last operational mission by a Whitley equipped bomber squadron.

Spitfire MkIX of RCAF 416Sqn, DN-B, BS319 with DN-G sitting in the background, at Wellingore, England, late May 1943.
No. 416 Squadron RCAF was initially formed at RAF Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1941 as a fighter squadron for service during the Second World War and was based at various RAF stations in Scotland, England and continental Europe. The squadron was disbanded in March 1946.
Photo: Canadian National Archive PA. 136898.

Supermarine Spitfire Mark IX of No. 242 Squadron RAF at Calenzana, Corsica, after a patrol over the invasion beaches in southern France, Aug 17th, 1944.

A group of pilots of No. 19 Squadron RAF discuss a recent sortie by Manor Farm at Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire. September 1940.
Standing from left to right are: Sergeant David E Lloyd, Flight-Sergeant George C 'Grumpy' Unwin, unknown, Flying Officer Hugh S L Dundas (of No. 616 Squadron RAF), Flight Sergeant Harry Steere and Squadron-Leader Brian J E 'Sandy' Lane, the Squadron's Commanding Officer. Flight-Sergeant Unwin's pet German Shepherd dog 'Flash' can be seen to the left.

A party of riggers working on the tailplane of a Supermarine Spitfire of No. 601 Squadron RAF at Lentini West, September 1943, Sicily, Italy.
No. 601 Squadron was formed at RAF Northolt on 14 October 1925 when a group of wealthy aristocratic young men, all of whom were amateur aviators, decided to form themselves into a Reserve Squadron of the RAF after a meeting in White's Club, London.
The original officers were picked by the first commanding officer, Lord Edward Grosvenor, youngest son of Hugh Grosvenor, 1st Duke of Westminster. Grosvenor tested potential recruits by plying them with alcohol to see if they would behave inappropriately. Grosvenor wanted officers "of sufficient presence not to be overawed by him and of sufficient means not to be excluded from his favourite pastimes, eating, drinking and Whites"
The Squadron was initially known as "the millionaires squadron", a nametag gained because of a reputation for filling their ranks with the very 'well-heeled'. Most of these affluent young pilots had little regard for the rigid discipline of the regular service; they lined their uniform tunics with bright red silk and wore blue ties rather than the regulation black.
They played polo on brand-new Brough Superior motor cycles, drove fast sports cars (the squadron car park was said to resemble a Concours d'Elegance) and most of the pilots owned their own private aircraft.
The Squadron became a day fighter unit in 1940 and operated both the Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire. Aircrew attrition and transfers to other units, war quickly took its toll on the pre-war personnel and as replacements were drafted in from all walks of life and all parts of the Commonwealth to cover casualties and promotions, the Squadron became as cosmopolitan as any other.

F/O Lewis E. Park Jr. (KIA 27/6/44) of 438 Squadron RCAF on his Norton motorcycle in front of Hawker Typhoon Ib R-D (MN518) the personal aircraft of W/C Robert Tremayne Davidson. RAF Funtington or Hurn, April-May 1944

Pilots of No. 85 Squadron RAF pause for a photograph between sorties at Lille-Seclin, at 9am on the first day of the German invasion of France. They had been intercepting German formations since 4.15am and were to continue to do so until 9pm that evening, claiming a total of seventeen enemy aircraft destroyed for the loss of four Hawker Hurricanes. 10 May 1940
Back row l-r: *F/Lt James R M Boothby, F/O Thomas G Pace (KIA 3/12/41), S/Ldr John W “Doggie” Oliver, P/O John H Ashton, *P/O John W Lecky (Died in RTA 18/5/40), F/O Stanley P Stephenson, Sgt. Geoffrey “Sammy” Allard (KIFA 13/3/41), Sgt Leonard A Crozier (KIFA 14/10/44), Warrant Officer Newton. Front l-r: F/O Kenneth H Blair, Sgt John M Little (KIA 19/5/40)
*1940-05-18 40308 P/O LECKY, John W Pilot 85 sqn FR Killed in a motor accident returning to his unit after a spell of leave; F/Lt J.R.M. Boothby injured in same accident.

WAAF flight mechanics conduct an inter-flight inspection on Miles Master Mark II, DM425, of No. 9 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit at night at Errol, Perthshire. They are, in the cockpit, Corporal H Shaw; on the fuselage, Leading Aircraftwoman M Agnew; on the ground (left) Aircraftwoman M H Arnott, and Aircraftwoman C W Fraser; all from Glasgow.

Women at War.

Leska-Daab, Anna (Pilots RAF)
Flight lieutenant of the British Royal Air Force (RAF); ferry pilot of the British Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA); commander of a women’s squadron; and the sole ATA pilot to receive the Royal Medal.
At eighteen years old, Anna Leska-Daab qualified as a Category A and B glider pilot and as a balloon pilot at the Warsaw (Poland) Flying Club, which eventually granted her a sports pilot’s license. When the Warsaw Flying Club maintained that she had too few points to be admitted to flight training, she implied that the club discriminated against women. Early in 1939 she began to fly at Poland’s Pomeranian Flying Club. In June 1939 she qualified as a pilot of the RWD-8. Following Germany’s invasion of Poland in September 1939, she was assigned to the Polish Air Force headquarters squadron to fly liaison missions. She also delivered an RWD-13 to an indicated airfield, even though she then had only a few hours of solo flying to her credit. She subsequently flew sixteen wartime missions aboard this type of aircraft.
After her arrival in Great Britain via Romania and France, she initially worked at the headquarters of the RAF and subsequently at the British Air Ministry. Having passed a flying test intended for those with 250 hours of flying, she was immediately recruited by the ATA, even though she had but one-tenth of the flight-time requirement. Along with Jadwiga Pilsudska and Barbara Wojtulanis, Leska-Daab was one of three Polish women to fly with the ATA, which was subordinated to the Ministry of Aircraft Production. Leska-Daab started ferrying ATA aircraft on February 10, 1941, and served until October 31, 1945, longer than the other Poles, delivering the largest number of aircraft.
Stationed at Hatfield and Hamble, Leska-Daab ferried a total of 1,295 aircraft including 557 Supermarine Spitfires. She flew 93 types of aircraft, including flying boats, and was airborne 1,241 hours (Malinowski 1981, 12). When picking up an aircraft at a plant, she had to check its operation both on the ground and in the air and comment in writing on its performance during the flight for the benefit of the destination wing. After landing a multi-engine combat aircraft, such as the Wellington, it took some effort on her part to persuade the male pilots receiving the aircraft that she was, in fact, the pilot. Among her subordinates, whom she instructed and assisted, were five British women and one each from the United States, Chile, and Argentina. Leska-Daab received many Polish and British decorations, including the Polish Military Pilot Badge and the Royal Medal.

A Gloster Meteor F Mark III of No. 616 Squadron RAF Detachment, takes off from B58/Melsbroek, Belgium, shortly after joining No. 84 Group of 2nd TAF for air defence purposes. In the foreground a mobile Chance light stands parked by the main runway.

Pilots and ground crews of No. 132 Squadron RAF, pose for the photographer with their Supermarine Spitfire Mark VBs, lined up at Newchurch, Kent. Summer 1943 (foreground Spitfire Mk Vb AA850 "Heather" coded G-FF).

Leading Aircraftmen Norman Bond of Swindon and William Webb of Addington, Surrey, carry a rocket projectile to load under the wing of Bristol Beaufighter Mark X, NE646 'V', of No. 211 Squadron RAF Detachment at Ranchi, India
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Remembering 24 May 1915, Italy enters the war.

In this photo the nine brothers of Italian family Ponte, all enlisted for Great War, and all survived. The oldest was born in 1882, the youngest in 1899.

The photo was taken in 1923 to celebrate the return to life at home.

The uniforms worn are not really theirs but supplied by the photographic studio, and represent the different branches of the army: infantry, Alpine troops, Bersaglieri, artillery, engineering.
Imperial Germany:
Kaiserliche Marine U-boat U155 in display at the river Thames after the surrender of Germany, December 1918.
USS Iowa (BB-61) crew members attend mass on the battleship's starboard after deck, at the time of the Marianas Campaign, circa June 1944. She’s wearing Measure 32 camouflage scheme of Navy Blue (5-N) and Light Gray (5-L).

USS Brennan (DE-13) underway while serving as an escort training ship, circa 1944-1945.
Rear turret of the French armoured cruiser "Pothuau". This is a 194mm/40 (7.64”) of which she had 2 of those weapons; one fore and one aft. These were complemented by the 10x 5.5”, 12x 47mm, 8x 37mm, and 5x 450mm torpedo tubes. Protected by a 3” belt and a 4” deck all going 19 knots.

A decent little 5,000 ton armoured cruiser.

The gilding is a unique case, as this is the ship where the Franco-Russian alliance was signed.
The left side is French symbolism, the right side is Russian. The scroll reads 'Aboard the Pothuau in the harbor of Cronstadt, on the 26th of august ????".
The Polish Navy submarine ORP Orzeł in the base at Rosyth, January 1940.


ORP Orzeł was the lead ship of her class of submarines serving in the Polish Navy during World War II. Her name means "Eagle" in Polish. The boat is best known for the Orzeł incident, her escape from internment in neutral Estonia during the early stages of the Second World War.

Orzeł was laid down 14 August 1936 at the Dutch shipyard De Schelde, as the Job No. 205; launched on 15 January 1938, and commissioned on 2 February 1939. She was a modern design (designed by the joint venture of Polish and Dutch engineers), albeit quite large for the shallow waters of the Baltic Sea

Orzeł departed on her seventh patrol on 23 May 1940, to the central North Sea. On 1 and 2 June a radio message was transmitted from Rosyth ordering her to alter her patrol area and proceed to the Skagerrak. No radio signals had been received from her since she had sailed, and on 5 June she was ordered to return to base. She never acknowledged reception, and never returned to base. 8 June 1940 was officially accepted as the day of her loss. Although various theories exist regarding her loss, and it is commonly believed that she ran onto a mine in the Skagerrak, the true cause of her loss remains unknown to this day. There is the possibility that Orzeł may have been sunk either by a British minefield or by an adjacent German minefield, or mistakenly attacked by a British airplane.
Between 2008 and 2017 a number of Polish expeditions, both private and public-funded, searched the region of North Sea where she went missing with the hope of finding her final resting place. Wrecks of various other ships have been located, but Orzeł has not been among them and ultimately the fate of the ship remains a mystery.
Colour: Mateusz Prociak
About picture above:

Lt. Andrzej Piasecki (29 years old), executive officer of the Polish submarine ORP "Orzeł" ("Eagle" in English), January 1940.


The Polish Navy submarines ORP "Orzeł" ("Eagle" in English) and ORP "Wilk" ("Wolf" in English) in the base at Rosyth, January 1940.


Colour: Mateusz Prociak 2020.
The coffin of the Unknown Warrior in state in Westminster Abbey in 1920. In order to commemorate the many soldiers with no known grave, it was decided to bury an 'Unknown Warrior' with all due ceremony in Westminster Abbey on 11th November, Armistice Day, in 1920.
On February 8 1942, the Soviet ring finally closed around the already depleted SS-Division Totenkopf and the German II and X Corps, trapping 12, 30, 32, 123 and 290.Infantry Divisions. When contested villages changed the occupants they usually turned into flames. The Totenkopf Division was split up, on orders of 16.Armee, with sub-units being despatched to various crises points. The Waffen-SS units fighting in snow well over one metre deep and in temperatures of minus 30 degrees, came under extreme pressure as they tried to hold the line of scattered villages.

Images: photos taken by a Propagandakompanie (PK) on the north-eastern front showing a German and a presumably Latvian volunteer Jäger of unidentified units, both with determined expressions into the wide vista. The Jägers were usually crack shots used for ambushes and patrols. Commons: Bundesarchiv.

Canadian Armoured Autocars, April 1918


A grandfather of sorts of modern armoured vehicles, the Armoured Autocar consisted basically in a metal box atop the chassis of an Autocar, a 4x2 truck manufactured by US Autocar Company.
20 Autocar trucks were supplied to Canada, of which 8 were Armoured Machine-Gun Carriers.
They formed the "Automobile Machine Gun Brigade No. 1", which was deployed to Great Britain with the first Canadian contingent in October 1914. It stayed in Great Britain until 1916, among other reasons, because with the armies entrenching themselves, wheeled vehicles were deemed useless.
The brigade finally moved to France in 1916, where the vehicles had the two Model 1914 Colt machine-guns replaced by the superior Vickers .303 machine-gun (plus an optional Lewis mg for the vehicle’s Commander). The Vickers could rotate 360º while the Lewis only fired forward.
With its armament, mobility, and ammo capacity of 10-12,000 rounds, the Armoured Autocar served well as a fire-brigade of sorts, providing extra defensive fire power to the infantry in the trenches whenever the situation demanded.
On the negative side, its weak armour (9.5mm) was only capable of stopping conventional bullets at ranges of 60 yards or more (so it was claimed). As a consequence, the crews of 8 men crammed into each of the vehicles suffered a high number of casualties.
Of the 8 MG vehicles, 4 survived the war.

Original: Library and Archives Canada (No. 3395368)
I have similar suspicions that this is a picture from the initial phase of this operation. Unfortunately, no additional data (including units e.g. 201 Airborne Brigade or 250 Airborne Regiment etc.)

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