This week some of the magneticNorth team headed down to the Imperial War Museum in Duxford for the launch of a massive archive project we’ve been working on for the American Air Museum.
Working collaboratively with the team at IWM Duxford we have delivered a large-scale online archive project that, for the first time, starts to build a picture of the experiences of the two million American servicemen who passed through Britain during the Second World War. Nearly 30,000 of whom never returned to their homeland.
During the process of creating the site we’ve been really humbled by the stories that have been surfaced by the data sets we’ve been working with. Amazing tales of cooks and cowboys, fighter aces and fireman – and every job in-between. There are stories of unbelievable bravery and, as you’d expect, tales of real sadness and tragedy.
Now the site is live the hope is that the public will build on the data that has been collated. Creating a digital resource of memories, pictures and information that will live on for many generations to come. Within 24 hours of launch thousands of people had already visited the website and updated information within the site – just the start we’d hoped for.
The archive is split into six sections: People, Planes, Places, Missions, Groups and Images and currently holds details of 300,000 people, 18,000 planes, 450 places, 2,000 missions, 4,000 groups and 5,000 images. This data has been sourced predominately from The Roger Freeman Collection, a collection of approximately 15,000 images and slides assembled by aviation historian and native of East Anglia, Roger Freeman (1928-2005).
The website also hosts 225,000 names from the National Museums of the Mighty Eighth Air Force in Savannah, Georgia, USA, alongside a plethora of fascinating material from museums and individuals in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Moving forward the ambition is that both researchers of Second World War history and relatives of those who served including people in the UK who befriended and married servicemen will help populate the site and fill in the gaps.
So, as they say, it is over to you now. Please do tell anyone you think might have a connection to the site about it – they might be sitting on an anecdote about a person that makes for a remarkable story.
We’ll be doing a more in-depth post about our work on the archive in the next few weeks.
Huie H. Lamb receiving his DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) from Brig. Gen. Murray C. Woodbury. Photo courtesy of Huie H. Lamb.
Lieutenant Urban Drew (seated on the left) and three fellow pilots of the 375th Fighter Squadron, 361st Fighter Group sit inside the back of a crew bus at Bottisham. Handwritten caption on reverse: '375 FS Pilots, Bottisham 44, Drew'.