A thousand previously lost voices telling tales of the shared experiences of those who lived through the aerial bombing campaigns in World War Two have been digitised and preserved for future generations in a new digital archive.
The International Bomber Command Digital Archive brings amazing stories to life, including the story of Vera Willis – a Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) veteran who was responsible for driving aircrew to their aircraft during the war and who lived with the horror of so many of them not returning.
The archive, which has been funded with a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, has been developed at the University of Lincoln, UK, in partnership with the Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial Trust as part of the wider International Bomber Command Centre project.
The team has already carried out more than 1,000 interviews with those who were directly affected by the bombing war, many of whom served in Bomber Command and who have sadly since passed away.
In addition to the interviews, the archive consists of personal documents, such as photographs, diaries, letters and log books. There are 3,500 such items in the archive already, including 2,000 photos. Many of them have never been seen before outside the families who own them.
The collection is a living archive which will continue to grow as more items are added and the team is still interested in hearing from anyone who has anything to contribute. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to contact the team.
Keep up to date with the work of the IBCC Digital Archive team through their blog at www.ibccdigitalarchive.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk.
To find out more about the International Bomber Command Centre visit the website at www.internationalbcc.co.uk.
Eddy Smythe reminisces about his father, John Henry Smythe, who was from Sierra Leone and served in Bomber Command during the Second World War. John flew as a navigator until his aircraft was shot down in November 1943. He became a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft 1 until 1945.