Friday pictures: World War II archive

I apologize for skipping a few installments of Friday pictures – work and Thanksgiving derailed me a bit, but I am back with a longer entry today, in part to make up for those missed posts. With no further ado…

As I say nearly every time I write these, Flickr offers an amazing chance to look through others’ eyes all around the world, and I have tried to show works here from across the country and from a few overseas photographers, too. The other dimension that photography permits us to travel easily is time, and I recently stumbled across a growing collection of pictures being assembled by Flickr user dougshely. A Missouri resident, Doug has gathered (as of this moment) 312 World War II images that are exceptionally well curated. They come from all over, although I think many of them are from Army and Navy historical archives. More recently, he has incorporated things from the Life collection recently released by Google. There are images of naval and land operations, but the majority of the pictures depict aerial actions and contain dozens of iconic, timeless images. Many of them were burned into my brain as I leafed through endless illustrated American heritage histories of World War II.

Of particular note is the effort Doug has taken to annotate the images – often deciphering plane names and associating them with units, serial numbers, and dates. It is a vivid reminder that these are not just striking pictures, but a record of the bravery and sacrifice put forth by thousands of young men in the service of their country and freedom. 

Choosing just a few of these pictures was hard, but here is a starting glimpse. You will want to look at the collection for yourself. My thanks for the work and dedication involved.

Some of them are beautiful.

Douglas A-20 Havoc medium bombers of the 9th Air Force over France
Douglas A-20 Havoc medium bombers of the 9th Air Force over France

Some are even in color. 

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 8th Air Force in formation
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 8th Air Force in formation

Some are saddening.

Douglas A-20 Havoc hit by flak over Germany
Douglas A-20 Havoc hit by flak over Germany

And some can never be forgotten.

Consolidated B-24 Liberator, severed by flak, falls from the sky
Consolidated B-24 Liberator, severed by flak, falls from the sky

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

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