Photos Colour and Colourised Photos of WW2 & earlier conflicts



Captured Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3, DG200, in flight while serving with No. 1426 (Enemy Aircraft) Flight. Formerly 'Black 12' of 2/JG51, this aircraft force-landed at Manston, Kent, on 27 November 1940, after being attacked by Supermarine Spitfires of No. 66 Squadron RAF over the Thames estuary. After repair at the Royal Aircraft Establishment it was delivered to Rolls-Royce Ltd at Hucknall in February 1941 for engine performance tests. On 8 February 1942 it was passed to the Controller of Research and Development at Hatfield for propeller tests before going on to the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down, and, in March 1942, to No. 1426 Flight at Duxford and later Collyweston. In 1943, DG200 was put into storage, eventually moving to St Athan in 1969 for refurbishment. Once restored to its wartime paint scheme, it moved to the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon in 1976, where it is presently on display in the Battle of Britain Hall. DG200 is seen here being flown without its cockpit canopy, which was removed (and never replaced) while the aircraft was at Hucknall to enable Wing Commander J H Heyworth, a Rolls Royce test pilot who was very tall, to fit into the cockpit.
 
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Messerschmitt 109-F is seen at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, where it underwent repairs and was test flown by the RAF in British camouflage and marking, although it ultimately crashed near Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire whilst being tested, which resulted in the death of its Polish pilot. It was thought that the cause of the fatal crash was carbon monoxide poisoning caused by leakage into the cockpit of exhaust gasses.
 


Dutch Mounted Field Artillery with a 7cm Field Cannon on their way during an inundation during the mobilization, November 1939.

A bit of History
The Dutch Water Line was a series of water-based defences conceived in the early 17th century. Combined with natural bodies of water, the Water Line could be used to transform the ‘Holland’ Provinces almost into an island.

Early in the Eighty Years' War of Independence against Spain (1568-1648), the Dutch realized that flooding low-lying areas formed an excellent defence against enemy troops.

Sluices were constructed in dikes and forts and fortified towns were created at strategic points along the line with guns covering especially the dikes that traversed the water line.
The water level in the flooded areas was carefully maintained at a level deep enough to make an advance on foot precarious and shallow enough to rule out effective use of boats (other than the flat bottomed gun barges used by the Dutch defenders). In wintertime the water level could be manipulated to weaken ice covering, while the ice itself could be used when broken up to form further obstacles that would expose advancing troops to fire from the defenders for longer.

The Dutch Water Line proved its value less than forty years after its construction during the Franco-Dutch War (1672), when it stopped the armies of Louis XIV from conquering Holland, although the freezing over of the line came close to rendering it useless.

It was further extended and modernised in the 19th century, with forts containing round gun towers reminiscent of Martello towers. The line was mobilised but never attacked during the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 and World War I.

At the advent of World War II, most of the earth and brick fortifications in the Water Line were too vulnerable to modern artillery and bombs to withstand a protracted siege. To remedy this a large number of pillboxes were added. However, the Dutch had decided to use a more eastern main defence line, the Grebbe Line, and reserved a secondary role for the Water Line.

When the Grebbe Line was broken on May 13, the field army was withdrawn to the Water Line. However, modern tactics could circumvent fixed defense lines, as happened during the French Maginot Line. While the Dutch army was fighting a fixed battle at the Grebbe Line, German airborne troops captured the southern approaches into the heart of "Fortress Holland" by surprise, the key points being the bridges at Moerdijk, Dordrecht and Rotterdam.

When resistance did not cease, the Germans forced the Dutch into surrender by aerial bombing of Rotterdam and threatening the same for Utrecht and Amsterdam. From its conception in 1815, until the last modernisation in 1940, the equivalent of around 50 billion euro was spent on the New Dutch Water Line Today many of the forts are still more or less intact. There is renewed interest in the waterline for its natural beauty.
 
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Normandy, France. 5 July 1944
A PzKpfw V Panther Ausf A and crew of the 12th SS Panzer Division "Hitlerjugend" move through the Normandy bocage.

The translated German caption on the back of the photo goes as follows: "To the Normandy Front: 220 Kilometers. 'Panthers,' our strongest tanks, roll forward to reinforce. Normandy, 5/7/44."

The 12th SS Panzer Division "Hitlerjugend" (also nicknamed 'the Baby Division')was a German armoured division of the Waffen-SS. The majority of its junior enlisted men were drawn from members of the Hitler Youth, while the senior NCOs and officers were from other Waffen-SS divisions.

The division committed several war crimes while en route to and during the early battles in Normandy, including the Ascq and Ardenne Abbey massacres. It first saw action on 7 June 1944 as part of the German defensive operations at Caen where it suffered 80 percent losses.

In December 1944, the division was committed against the US Army in the Ardennes offensive. After the operation's failure, which became known as the Battle of the Bulge, the division was sent to Hungary to participate in fighting around Budapest. The division eventually retreated into Austria and surrendered to the 7th US Army on 8 May 1945. After the war several members of the division, including its commander Kurt Meyer, were convicted of war crimes.
 


A young German fallschirmjäger captured by the US army, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, near Weywertz. Belgium, 15 January, 1945.

The reaction of this young Fallschirmjäger Obergefreiter to becoming a prisoner of war speaks volumes about his sense of unit pride and shame of capture. This youthful captive was a rarity in the Luftwaffe’s 3rd Parachute Division, where few had ever jumped into combat. This was because he wears the diving eagle Parachutist’s badge (Fallschirmschützenabzeichen), for making six qualifying jumps, which will no doubt shortly become a GI souvenir. Part of Oberst Helmut von Hoffmann’s Fallschirm Regiment 9, this Obergefreiter had fought through Lanzerath attached to Kampfgruppe Peiper on 16 December, only to be captured by the US 1st Infantry Division at Weywertz, near Butgenbach, on 15 January 1945.
 
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Italian Alpini Artillery Officers and a Military chaplain in the WW1 Ossuary of Nervesa della Battaglia ( Treviso, Northern Italy).
Most of them are veterans from the Abyssinian Campaign.

The Alpini divisions saw combat in France, Africa, Italy, Albania, The Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Greece. One Alpini battalion was employed in East Africa. In 1942, Tridentina, Julia and Cuneense division were sent to fight in the Soviet Union. In Russia, instead of being deployed in the Caucasus mountains as expected, the Alpini were tasked with holding a front on the plains of the Don River. As a result of this disastrous strategic decision, troops armed, trained, and equipped for mountain warfare were pitted in the plains against tanks and mechanized infantry, to counter which they were neither equipped nor trained. Despite this, the Alpini held the front until January 1943, when, due to the collapse of the Axis front, they were encircled by the advancing Soviet Army.

Photo Taken in 1938 by Zaccaria dal Sacco
 


U.S. soldiers take a morning walk through the grounds of Hoensbroek Castle in Limburg accompanied by Dutch children (in traditional dresses from Volendam), in the southern part of the Netherlands, late 1944.

Around 145 young Dutch children were living there under the care of Catholic nuns of the 'Congregation of the poor Child Jezus'. The children and nuns had to leave their homes and school in Velsen (on the North Sea Coast), because the Germans extended their coastal defences and Flak-units.

The children, mostly three years olds, expressed their appreciation for the kindness of American Gi's stationed in the area by entertaining them with games and dances in local traditional dress from Volendam.

"The Americans were crazy about our children," said Sister Marie Pascale (Mien Osendarp) from Warmond, who was in charge and accompanying the group at the time this photo was taken.

After the liberation, the sisters and children of the castle were regularly visited by American soldiers. They said they wanted to visit the castle, but they actually came to play with the children. And ofcourse they brought chocolate treats. They loved the kids. The sisters organized colorful evenings for the Americans.
They taught the children dances and English songs. 'My Old Kentucky Home' was also on the repertoire. When an American general from Kentucky heard that, he started to cry.

American soldiers also wept a tear when the children sang "Silent Night, Holy Night" in English on Christmas Eve. The sisters knitted slippers and painted clogs with windmills for the Americans. The American preference for the clogs gave the sisters the idea to dress the children as 'Volendammertjes' while they performed.

The following day the Americans came back and asked if they could have their picture taken with the Volendammertjes. The photos went around the world. In the end, permanent housing in the castle turned out to be too expensive and the children moved to a different location, including Simpelveld. The last children and sisters left on June 2, 1946.
 


G.I.'s from (possibly) the 1st Btn, 314th Inf. Rgt. of the US 79th Inf. Div., during an attack on the Bolleville road, just north west of La Haye-du-Puits in Normandy. ca. July 8, 1944

The Dodge Command Car belongs to the 3rd A.D. 166th Signal Photo Co unit 6 and could be the transport of the photographer Rodger Hamilton.
The soldier on the right carries a .30 BAR Caliber Browning Automatic Rifle.

At 1830, on the 4th of July, 2nd Btn moved through 1st Btn's position to bypass La Haye du Puits to reach an assembly area about 800 yards northwest of Bolleville. 1st Btn was holding the line to the right, and 3rd was in a defensive position northwest of Ste. Catherine. 5 July - After six hours of heavy fighting, 2nd Btn managed to only advance one-half mile and was stopped cold until tank support arrived. 3rd Btn's K/Co was sent to recon La Haye du Puits and, at 0900, secured the railroad station on the north end of town. The Germans bombarded the station heavily and orders for K/Co to pull out were issued that afternoon. Later in the day, the entire 3rd Btn pulled back to regroup to the right flank (south of Bolleville) for the next day's assault.

1st Btn moved in south from Bolleville. Late in the afternoon, 3rd Btn ran into a battalion of Waffen SS in defensive positions of La Haye du Puits. The 315th, near Montgarden, was so far away that what resulted was a 500 yard gap in the 3rd's right flank. On the northern sector, a 1st Btn recon unit ran into resistance and had to fall back to Bolleville.

On the 7th of July, 2nd and 3rd Btn's tried to advance again with slight progress and at a high casualty cost. By nightfall, command of 2nd Btn had changed three times due to heavy losses. 1st Btn made another attempt to reconnoiter La Haye du Puits, but ran into heavy German defensive positions - mine-studded fields strung with checkerboard patterns of piano wire about one inch off the ground, mortar bursts, and machine gun batteries. Behind the 314th's position, the 8th Infantry Division was preparing it's 28th Regiment to relieve 2nd Btn's position. The next day's orders were for the 1st Btn to just contain the town, leaving the dirty work to the 8th Infantry Division.

But, as will become pattern, the orders changed sending 1st into town. The battalion broke up into smaller units to penetrate the German defensive positions. It was an awkward, almost Guerilla-like attack, but after a day of this tactic, on 8 July, the 1st Btn secured La Haye du Puits.
 


Kapitän zur See Otto Ernst Lindemann, Commander of the battleship Bismarck, 24 August 1940.

Lindemann joined the German Imperial Navy in 1913, and after his basic military training, served on a number of warships during World War I as a wireless telegraphy officer. One year after the outbreak of World War II, he was appointed commander of the battleship Bismarck, at the time the largest warship in commission anywhere in the world and the pride of the Kriegsmarine.

In May 1941, Lindemann commanded Bismarck during Operation Rheinübung. Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen formed a task force under the command of Admiral Günther Lütjens on board the Bismarck. Orders were to break into the Atlantic and attack Allied shipping. The task force's first major engagement was the Battle of the Denmark Strait which resulted in the sinking of HMS Hood. Afterwards the Bismarck was hunted down by the British for a showdown and was engaged in battle on 27 May. After about 100 minutes of fighting, being hit by combined effects of shellfire, torpedo hits and deliberate scuttling the Bismarck was sunk, taking Ernst Lindemann, Admiral Günther Lütjens and 2,200 sailors with it to depths of the Atlantic.

Lindemann was posthumously awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. The medal was presented to his widow, Hildegard, on 6 January 1942.
 


A newly manufactured Handley Page Halifax III, photographed on a test flight on 28th January 1944.

On 25 April 1945, the Halifax performed its last major operation against the enemy during an attack upon coastal gun batteries on Wangerooge in the German Frisian Islands of the North Sea. While the type continued to fly operations after this, these were primarily diversions to other operations and sporadic, uncoordinated attacks against targets of opportunity.

Upon the end of the conflict, Bomber Command quickly disbanded the majority of its Halifax-equipped squadrons; the aircraft themselves were transferred to Transport Command. During the type's service with Bomber Command, Halifaxes flew 82,773 operations and dropped 224,207 tons of bombs. 1,833 aircraft were lost
 
More than 800,000 soldiers from the French colonies, including residents of Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, fought on the fronts of World War I. The photo depicts soldiers of the 2nd regiment of spagi, a kind of light cavalry, the acquisition of which came mainly from the local population of these countries.
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July 1917 Two soldiers sleep in La Araz, in the north of the country, near the French border with Luxembourg.
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Military equipment played a huge role during the battles. Initially, France had hopes for infantry troops, but closer to the end of the war, "gun-cars" began to be actively used, such as in the photo.
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The Katyn Massacre
Parfemon Kiselev, a local resident of the Katyn area and a witness of the massacre, is giving his testimony to Dr. Ferenc Orsós, Professor of Forensic Medicine and Criminology at the University of Budapest, a member of the International Medical Commission. Dr Marko Markov, a reader of Forensic Medicine and Criminology at the University of Sofia, can be seen on Dr Orsós' right. Katyn Forest, Russia, 30 April, 1943.

The Katyn massacre was a series of mass executions of nearly 22,000 Polish military officers and intelligentsia carried out by the Soviet Union, specifically the NKVD ("People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs", the Soviet secret police) in April and May 1940. Though the killings also occurred in the Kalinin and Kharkiv prisons and elsewhere, the massacre is named after the Katyn Forest, where some of the mass graves were first discovered.

The massacre, initiated by NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria's proposal to Stalin to execute all captive members of the Polish officer corps, was approved by the Soviet Politburo led by Joseph Stalin on March 5, 1940.

Of the total killed, about 8,000 were officers imprisoned during the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland, another 6,000 were police officers, and the remaining 8,000 were Polish intelligentsia the Soviets deemed to be "intelligence agents, gendarmes, landowners, saboteurs, factory owners, lawyers, officials, and priests". The Polish Army officer class was representative of the multi-ethnic Polish state; the murdered included ethnic Poles, Polish Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Polish Jews including the Chief Rabbi of the Polish Army, Baruch Steinberg.

The government of Nazi Germany announced the discovery of mass graves in the Katyn Forest in April 1943. Stalin severed diplomatic relations with the London-based Polish government-in-exile when it asked for an investigation by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The USSR claimed the Nazi's had killed the victims, and it continued to deny responsibility for the massacres until 1990, when it officially acknowledged and condemned the killings by the NKVD, as well as the subsequent cover-up by the Soviet government.
 
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US soldiers of the 41st Armoured Infantry Regiment, US 2nd Armoured Division, guard German POWs at the entrance to Rue des Fossés Plisson, in Domfront, Lower Normandy, France.

Domfort was liberated on the 15th of August, 1944. The 2nd Armoured Division was at Barenton (Manche) on the 10th of August and later in Seés (Orne) on the 18th so this photo was probably taken between the 15th and the 18th of August, 1944.

In early 1943 a two piece herringbone twill (HBT) camouflage uniform was issued to Army units serving in both Europe and the South Pacific. The 1943 issue was then replaced with a 1944 HBT pattern that differed in the colours, going to a darker shade..

In France, immediately after D-Day, this uniform was issued to the 41st Armoured InfantryRegiment of the 2nd Armoured Division. There’s evidence it was also being worn by the 17th Armoured Engineer Bn. and a few elements of the 2nd and 30th Infantry Divisions.

The experience was short lived because, it is often said, the unfortunate wearers of the camouflaged uniforms were shot at, not only by the enemy, but also by other Allied soldiers who identified camo uniforms with the Germans. Presently, this idea seems to have been mostly rebuked.

Nevertheless, a veteran of the 29th Infantry Division (quoted by an unknown source) is said to have commented, “those guys should have known better than to wear camouflage like damned Germans. We shot the hell out of them.”
 


Supermarine Spitfires Mark V of No. 243 Squadron RAF undergo maintenance at Comiso airfield, Sicily. Photographed over the tail section of an abandoned Messerschmitt Bf 109G of 6./JG53. July 1943

Due to its proximity to the invasion beaches (about 10 km), Comiso airfield was one of the priority targets of Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily.

As soon as the Allies landed on July 10, Comiso started being evacuated by the Luftwaffe but bombing operations continued against the invasion beachheads only a few miles away.

The airfield was finally occupied by US troops of the 3rd Battalion/157th and 179th IR (US 45th Inf. Division) at 15:55 on D+1 (July 11).

The new occupants found 25 unserviceable enemy planes on the ground and the wreckage of a hundred more in the aircraft cemetery.

One German airplane had escaped just as the Americans moved in. A few minutes later a German Ju-88 bomber flew near the airfield and was fired upon. The pilot landed anyway, jumped out of the cockpit, and began furiously cursing the gunners, whom he took to be Italian. The allied soldiers took him prisoner. Two other Luftwaffe fighters are said to have been later captured the same way.
 


An M-10 'Accident' of the 3AD's 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion, Co A, is seen near Saint-Jean-de-Daye in Normandy on July 11, 1944.

This was the day that the German Lehr Division launched a counter-attack, and the 703rd was credited with destroying ten Panther tanks.
 

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