Aerial Photographs of Second World War in England Opened to the Public

A collection of black and white aerial photographs taken by the US Army Air Forces (USAAF) Photographic Reconnaissance units during the Second World War are now accessible to the public. These photographs were captured in 1943 and 1944, after the US joined the war in December 1941. The 3,600 images provide a unique perspective of England during the war, revealing the impact of bombings, including the damage to the Old Trafford football stadium in Greater Manchester.

The photographs also depict ancient monuments surrounded by anti-tank defences in West Sussex, with Cissbury Ring Iron Age hillfort in Worthing being one such example. Additionally, there is a low-level photograph of a US Army camp in Wiltshire, which captures firing ranges in the foreground and soldiers playing baseball in a recreation field.

Furthermore, the collection contains images of Worthing Pier in West Sussex, where part of its decking was removed to hinder enemy landings. Another photo taken at Stonehenge in Wiltshire on Christmas Eve in 1943 reveals markings highlighting the location of a First World War aerodrome and camp.

The Historic England Archive has made these photographs available to the public for the first time through an online map. The chief executive of Historic England, Duncan Wilson, stated that the collection not only showcases the changes that occurred in England during the Second World War but also captures remarkable details, such as American troops playing baseball. Wilson emphasized the importance of aerial reconnaissance during the war and expressed the organization’s aim to provide public access to this significant historic collection.