Within the DDN collection, there are a number of folders containing pictures that cover various campaigns of the Second World War. These pictures were used in the newspaper for stories and often times still have the original captions still attached to them.
I decided to pick a couple of themes and post some pictures from the World War II folders in the archive. The two main themes in this small assortment of pictures are the end of the war in Europe, and military aviation in both theaters. I chose these themes because I have an interest in military aviation, and because it’s interesting to see how the things looked immediately in the immediate aftermath of a battle. I also found many of the pictures intriguing since I had never seen them before. I hope that those reading this blog will see them as thought-provoking as I have.
The first group of photographs in this blog are of American bombers on combat missions.
According to the original caption with this image, this picture was taken on October 9th, 1943, when B-17s from the 8th Air Force flying from England bombed the Focke-Wulf aircraft factory at Marienburg, Germany. Visible in this picture is the airstrip from which fresh fighters were flown from. Bombers would return to again attack this target in 1944.
- This is a B-26 Marauder medium bomber which, according to the caption, is on a mission to Triqueville, France where a German fighter base is located. The picture is dated November 26th, 1943.
This picture, dated January 6th, 1944, shows B-17s from the 15th Air Force on their way to a target in Italy. The caption points out several surviving pieces of a Roman aqueduct visible on the ground- the long shadows on the ground indicate where the surviving parts of the structure are.
This picture, dated May 18th, 1944, shows a gathering of crew members who bombed Ploesti, Romania. They are grouped together in this photograph to watch Generals Car Spaatz and Jimmy Doolittle present several crew members with medals. The bombers in this picture are B-24 Liberators. Ploesti was the location of oil refineries which were extremely valuable to the German war machine. Because of their importance, the target was heavily defended, and the attacking bombers suffered heavy casualties.
This picture was taken on D-Day, June 6th, 1944. The aircraft, a B-26, is flying over what appears to be Utah beach, one of the American landing zones. The bomber has been specially marked for D-Day with black and white stripes on the fuselage and wings, which were to identify itself as a friendly aircraft to ground units during D-Day and the weeks that followed.
This picture comes from Port Moresby, New Guinea. Though credited as having been used in September 1943 for the Dayton Daily News, the caption notes that the picture was originally taken in 1942. It was taken following a Japanese air raid on the airfield, which destroyed one C-47 transport at left, and has apparently set fire to the other C-47 on the right. If one looks closely, they can see where heat has wrinkled the skin of the aircraft, just behind the cargo door. The man running towards the camera is carrying cans to be filled with water to try and extinguish the fire.
This picture shows a B-25 of the 5th Air Force attacking a Japanese merchant ship during an attack on Wewak Harbor, a base in New Guinea providing supplies to Salamaua and Lae. The B-25′s bombs have just missed the ship, which is shooting back at its attackers, as evident by the black puffs of flak. The B-25 was the main bomber of the 5th Air Force, which modified many of these bombers to have an extra 4-8 machine guns located on the nose of the plane for concentrated fire on strafing attacks.
This picture was shot from the tail of a B-25 of the 5th Air Force during its bombing run over the major Japanese air base at Rabaul, New Britain on October 12th, 1943. The bombs are parafrag bombs, which used parachutes to slow their descent and allow the bomber dropping them to escape the range of shrapnel. Using parafrags was necessary when attacking at such a low level as shown in the photograph, since without them bombs would explode almost directly beneath the aircraft, damaging it. Also visible in this picture are several Japanese G4M “Betty” medium bombers in revetments, and at the lower left is a wrecked A6M3 Zero fighter.
This next group of photos show German soldiers during the war.
These are German POWs captured during the Normandy campaign. You might notice that they are teenagers- as the war raged on and more and more of Germany’s potential fighting men were consumed by the fighting, the military had to expand the age range of those eligible for service.
These POWs are on board a Coast Guard ship heading back to the United States from France. While they are about to enter a prisoner camp in the States, the picture notes that they are trying to keep up their spirits by singing along with the man playing the guitar.
The last group of photographs show former German installations and technology after the site that they are at has been captured by Allied forces.
The caption for this picture reads, “Le Bourget Airport Battered”. The tail of the plane visible to the right of this picture is that of a Heinkel 111, a German bomber. Normally, the tail of this aircraft sits on the ground, so it seems likely that this aircraft has been damaged. As you can see in the background, the airfield has been heavily damaged by Allied bombers in an attempt to render it useless to the German Luftwaffe.
These are wrecked ships at the Italian port of Leghorn. The ships were victims of Allied bombing attacks.
These three enormous flak towers guarded a German Marine base near Angers, France. Each tower would have been armed with several large caliber and small caliber anti-aircraft guns. They were destroyed by Allied air attacks as General Patton’s 3rd Army advanced East.
This picture of the Reichstag was taken after the end of the war, and shows the extent to which the building was damaged. Following a fire in 1933, the building was further damaged during the war by Allied bombing raids, and even more extensively during the Battle of Berlin. Interestingly, while the Reichstag was a symbol representing the enemy to the Allies, the Nazi government rarely met in the structure. The building was captured over the course of three days of fierce fighting. The building would sit unoccupied for over forty years until the fall of the Berlin wall, when the building was renovated to become the seat of the new German government. The phrase, “Dem Deutschen Volke” or “For the German People” remains above the entrance of the building today. There are also still battle scars visible on certain parts of the building .
This is a German 240mm Rail Gun, captured by American soldiers in the spring of 1945. The Germany Army utilized many rail guns such as this, hiding them in tunnels during the day to avoid aerial attack and rolling them out to fire at night. As large as this gun seems, the biggest rail gun used by the Germans (and one of the largest guns in history) was a 800mm gun called “Schwerer Gustav.”
This picture shows American soldiers examining a partially built German tank in Germany in 1945. The tank is probably an E-100, a superheavy tank designed by Germany near the end of the war. The tank when built would have weighed a whopping 140 tons and been armed with a 128mm cannon. However, the end of the war halted this advanced Germans weapons project as it did so many others.
This picture shows American soldiers from the 1st Army examining part of a V-2 rocket after the army had captured the town of Bromskirchen, Germany. The picture shows that the rocket has not yet been paired with the upper half of the body and warhead. The fuel cell and insulation are visible at the open end of the rocket body.
This picture shows an underground V-2 rocket factory at Klein Bodungen, 62 miles west of Halle, Germany. As the war went on and more and more German industry was targeted by Allied bombing missions, building underground factories became more common and practical. According to the photo’s caption, this factory was one of the largest in Germany. The rocket pictured is not complete- it appears to be missing both an engine and a fuel tank.
Here is another underground factory, this one near Hinterbruhl, Austria.This factory was tasked with building Heinkel 162s, a jet fighter built of cheap materials near the end of the war. The fighters were referred to as “Volksjaeger” with the idea that the aircraft would be easy to fly for new pilots, though in reality the aircraft was very difficult to handle. This photograph shows tens of fuselages awaiting wings and engines.Only a few Heinkel 162s ever saw active service due to its late war introduction.
Thanks for viewing,
- Seth Marshall