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Thread: Royal Indian Air Force in WW2 - Lots of Rare Pics

  1. #1
    Senior Member rajkhalsa's Avatar
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    Default Royal Indian Air Force in WW2 - Lots of Rare Pics

    Its a little known fact that that the Royal Indian Armed Forces were the largest all-volunteer armed force in history, with nearly 20 million men fighting with the Indian Army, the Royal Indian Air Force and the Royal Indian Navy.

    In 1932, the Indian Air Force act was passed, establishing for the first time a localized air force in India. The legacies of racism and colonialism toward Indians by the British made the growth of the Royal Indian Air Force slow, and by 1938, only a squadron was in service, both flying and called the Wapitis.

    The emergency of WW2 changed all that. By 1939, the RIAF was up to three sqns, and a plan for rapid expantion was put in place.

    By the end of the war, the RIAF had risen to seven squadrons, with substantial numbers of Indian personnel flying in RAF and many other colonial nations. This airforce fought side-by-side with the British and Americans against the Japanese all over Asia, and Indian-manned squadrons distinguished themselves in the air war in Europe, as well as in the Middle East and North Africa.

    The inaguration of the Indian republic in 1950 had the force redesignated Bharatiya Vayu Sena or the Indian Air Force.


    Below are some very rare photos of the RIAF in WW2, courtesy BR:


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    No. 1 Squadron reequiped with the Westland Lysander, an Army support aeroplane. Paid for through funds raised by the citizens of Bombay, No.1 Sqn flew into combat when war broke out in the fareast with Japan.

    From 1st February 1942 to 12th March, No.1 was involved in the operations under the command of Sqn Ldr K K "Jumbo" Majumdar. All the pilots being evacuated to India after handing over the aircraft to the Burmese Air Force.


    ^ Sqn Ldr Karun Krishna Majumdar had the distinction and Honor of leading No.1 Squadron into war on the Burma Front. Here, Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck (Auk) pins the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) onto Sqn Ldr Majumdar for his leadership of No.1 Squadron during the first Burma Campaign



    ^ Sqn Ldr Majumdar (Right) with Sqn Ldr Aspy Engineer (Left) after the investiture ceremony.


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    The Coastal Defence Flights were formed immediately after the outbreak of the Second World War.

    Several RAF Units detached aircraft to form flights. Most of the CDF aircraft were obsolete types like the Wapitis, Audaxes, Blenheims etc. RAF and Indian Air Force Volunteer Reserve Aircrew manned these various units.

    The IAFVR Pilots were about 100 Civilian License holders who had volunteered for service duties in 1940.


    ^ Ground Crew work on a Blienheim of No.3 Coastal Defence Flight. One of the three Blienheims in this flight was lost in a Japanese air raid.


    ^ Flt Lt Rupchand (2nd fro Left) finishing the pre-flight briefings before a Wapiti Sortie


    ^ A Blenheim of 60 RAF Squadron seen with Wapitis of No.27 RAF Squadron at St Thomas Mount in Madras. This RAF Sqn. had many Indian airmen serving in it.


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    The RIAF re-equipped following the outbreak of WW2. At the outbreak of the War, the IAF had a strength of 16 Officers and 144 Ranks. Only one Squadron was operational and all training was undertaken by units in the UK. But the outbreak of the war put a strain on UK's training requirements and also to cater to the Indian training needs, the IAF established new units and set up more combat units.

    By the end of the war, the number of personnel trained or under training, by the end of 1944 was in excess of 22000 Officers and men. A mamoth jump considering the initial strength of the IAF.

    The aircraft operated initially was the Westland Wapiti. A myriad of types were inducted including Dakota transports and Spitfire fighters. The IAF had Nine operational fighter - bomber squadrons, Four flights for AD gun training. A far cry from the single squadron of about a dozen Wapiti biplanes.


    ^ Wg Cdr S Mukerjee, OC Kohat on a visit to Miranshah interacts with the pilots and Army Liason Officers.


    ^ A Spitfire XIVe [NH786] of the No.1 Service Flying Training School at Ambala.


    ^ Air Commodore H J C Proud , the AOC, Air HQ, India visiting a forward airfield and meeting Indian Pilots


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    On its return from the first Burma campaign, No.1 Squadron re-equipped with the Hawker Hurricane. Moving between several locations within the country, the Squadron settled down at Kohat till December 1943 when it made preparations for a move to the Imphal sector on the India - Burma border.

    The Squadron arrived in February 1944 under the command of Sqn Ldr Arjan Singh. It remained in operation for a record fourteen months and saw action in the fateful siege of Imphal, and the trans Chindwin and trans- Irrawady offensives.

    By the time the Squadron withdrew to its peacetime base in Kohat, No.1 Squadron had flown around 4,813 Operational Sorties and 7,219 flying hours against the Japanese. The Squadron earned a total of Seven Distinguished Flying Crosses. The Commanding Officer Arjan Singh himself being a recipient of one of these.


    ^ Sqn Ldr Arjan Singh (right) with his aircraft mechanics Daruwala and Khalsi. Arhan Singh went on to become Chief of Air Staff in the rank of Air Marshal, and eventually Marshal of the Air Force in January 2002 making him the first and the only 'Five Star' rank officer with the Indian Air Force.



    ^ Fg Offr A R Pandit and Fg Offr B R "Pop" Rao, both DFCs of No.1 Squadron on a Hawker Hurricane in Miransha



    ^ At the frontline. Pilots of No.1 Squadron with the CO, Arjan Singh sitting at the drivers position in the Jeep.



    ^ At a forward airfield thats been turned to a quagmire due to the Monsoons, Fg Offr A C Prabhakaran, Flt Lt Ramaswamy Rajaram and Fg Offr S Hafeez pose by one of the Hurricane IIcs. Unfortunately both Prabhakaran and Hafeez were to die in operations later on in late 1944. Rajaram became an Air Marshal and AOC in C of SWAC. But he died of Leukemia in 1966.



    ^ 'Tullu' Talwar reads the Telegram from Air Marshal Baldwin confirming the award of Distinguished Flying Cross to Arjan Singh.



    ^ The Tigers celebrate their CO's DFC. Air Cmde SF Vincent, AOC 221 Group is lying on the ground along with Sqn Ldr Arjan Singh.


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    Senior Member rajkhalsa's Avatar
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    ----=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=----


    The first unit to be so equipped with the Vultee Vengeance dive-bomber was No.7 Squadron which was raised on this aircraft in Mid 1943. Being a pioneer in using the aircraft, the Squadron had to evolve its own techniques and tactics in using the aircraft in an offensive role.

    In Mid December 1943, No.7 moved to Cox Bazar to take part in the second Arakan Campaign. The full scale ops started in March 44. Led by Sqn Ldr Hem Chaudhuri, It participated in the siege of Kohima and Imphal, operating from Uderband ***** near Kumbhirgham.


    ^ Sgt Das Gupta and Aircraft Enshain with another trailer load of 'cookies' for the Japanese besieging Kohima.



    ^ A Vultee Vengeance dive-bomber of No.7 Squadron flying near Peshawar in December 1943. No.7 was raised on the Vengeance and did thier training at Peshawar and Kohat before proceeding to Burma.



    ^ Sqn Ldr P C Lal, CO of No.7 Sqn and officers at Ranchi in 1944. Lal took over command in October 44, and No.7 converted to the Hurricane soon afterwards.



    ^ A Vengeance on the takeoff roll at Uderbund, Silchar.



    ^ No.7 Squadron's Groundcrew service a Vengeance at Kumghirgham (Silchar) in March 1944


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    Few people realise that a number of Indian pilots took part in operations from England. At the height of the Battle of Britain, 24 Indian pilots were sent to the UK to under go conversion training and participate in Ops. Even though they could take part only after the Battle of Britain, many of them distinguished themselves flying operations with the various commands.

    Of the 24, eight were destined never to return. The remaining sixteen officers came back and bought with them the experiences of flying in the European theatre. One of those who returned, 'Chacha' Manmohan Singh, died in a Japanese air raid on Broome.

    A number of Indians who were domiciled in England directly joined the Royal Air Force or the RAFVR. As did many Anglo Indians. Indians flew rhubarbs with Fighter command, night raids with bomber command, coastal patrols and a few even made it to North Africa and Malta!

    The aircraft that they operated varied from obsolete types like the Magister, Whitley, Wellington to the more modern types like the Stirling, Lancaster, Mitchell Bombers and Whirlwind, Tempest Mustang and even the latest Meteor III jet fighters.


    ^ 8th October 1940: A policeman shakes hands with a group of Indian pilots, MS Pujji DFC is 2nd from Right.



    ^ Twenty four Indian pilots were sent to England during the summer of 1940. They joined the various OTUs and subsequently spread out among the Squadrons in Fighter, Coastal and bomber Command. Eight of them were killed in operations.



    ^ 1604 GD(P) Flt Lt Mohinder Singh Pujji DFC in the cockpit of his Hawker Hurricane named 'Amrit' after his Fiancee.



    ^ Plt Offr Calender Eknath Sukhtankar (144197 RAF (Later 2810 GD(O)), No.83 RAF Squadron. Sukthanker was the first Indian Officer in the RAF to win a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). He was commissioned in March 1943 and, having trained as a navigator, took part in many bombing sorties over Berlin, Essen, Dortmund and other strongly defended urban and industrial centres in Germany. During these sorties, he displayed a high level of commitment, skill and efficiency



    ^ Sgt Sayanapuram Duraiswamy Thyagarajan (Center) with No 263 Squadron, RAF, Whirlwind P7094 HE-T . The CO Flt Lt Geofferey B Warnes is second left and the Adjutant , F/L EC Owens is at first left . Other pilots in the Squadron are Canadian, Austarlian and West Indian.The sqn converted to Typhoons in Feb 44. Later promoted to Pilot Officer (177663 RAF), Thyagarajan was shot down and killed over France on 26th August 1944



    ^ 1555 GD(P) Sqn Ldr K K Majumdar DFC in the cockpit of an Hawker Typhoon fighter bomber during his tenure with No.268 Squadron during the D-Day Operations in Europe. Note the 'INDIA' shoulder flashes


    (Read some details Majumdar's Typhoon and model reproduction by Polly Singh)


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    More pics tomorrow!
    - RaJ

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    Amazing photos rajkhalsa. I cant wait to see more of it.

    Thanks for the post.

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    Member Heinzi's Avatar
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    Thanks rajkhalsa!

    Very interesting read, and great photos

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    Senior Member rajkhalsa's Avatar
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    Thanks guys

    Since its now technically tomorrow, and I can't sleep, here are some more pics!


    ----=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=----


    No account of the operations are complete without mentioning the names of the pilots and aircrew who led the missions against the enemy in the Second World War.

    Indian Pilots started seeing action simultaneously in Burma as well as England towards the end of 1941. 24 Pilots served with the RAF's Fighter, Bomber and Coastal Command in 1942, Eight of them being killed in operations.

    More pilots served in far-away sectors like North Africa, Australia, Ceylon and the Middle East.

    Here are a some portraits of Indian airmen


    ^ 1567 GD(P) Sqn Ldr Pratap Chandra Lal DFC in the cockpit of a Vultee Vengeance bomber. Lal became the Chief of Air Staff later on. He led the IAF in combat during the 1971 India Pakistan War



    ^ Sqn Ldr Hem Chaudary commanded No.3 CDF during the first Burma Campaign. Here he is seen with one of the Bristol Blienhiems



    ^ 1551 GD(P) Subroto Mukerjee as a Group Captain at the end of the Second World War. Mukerjee was the senior most Indian pilot serving with the IAF



    ^ 1554 GD(P) Proudly displaying the freshly pinned Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) is Sqn Ldr Aspy Engineer, the second Indian in WW2 to be so awarded.



    ^ 1556 GD(P) Wing Commander Narendra, was from the third batch of Cranwell trained officers. He rose upto the rank of Air Commodore in the 1950s.



    ^ 1577 GD(P) Group Captain Arjan Singh DFC towards the time of the Independence.



    ^ Flt Lt K Y "Buddha" Mathews of No.7 Sqn. Mathews once had a snake crawl up his control column while flying a Hurricane over Burma.



    ^ 1614 GD(P) Wg Cdr MM Engineer DFC, who was took part in the 1947 Kashmir Operations was from No.3 Squadron in Burma



    ^ 1644 GD(P) Wg Cdr HS Moolgavkar crashed his Spitfire at Cox Bazar and survived to become CAS later



    ^ 1691 GD(P) Plt Offr M Barker (Later Air Marshal), was the first Anglo-Indian Officer in the Indian Air Force



    ^ 1699 GD(P) Pilot Officer l Behram Sanjana of the IAF Volunteer Reserve. He died in a Hurricane Crash



    ^ 1703 GD(P) Fg Offr Theodore Alex Manuel Andrade was shot down in flames on 8th May 44



    ^ 1707 GD(P) Anand Ramdas Pandit was a Flg Offr with No.1 Squadron when he received the DFC for service on the Burma Front



    ^ 1726 GD(P) Fg Offr Bollineni Ramachandra Rao earned his DFC with No.1 Squadron



    ^ 2351 GD(P) Fg Offr Hoshang K Patel (Later Wg Cdr) started his tour of ops with No.6 Sqn



    ^ 2988 GD(P) Pilot Officer Cecil Henry Lawrence Digby was graduated with wings towards August 1945 and served with No.4 Squadron



    ^ Fg Offr Neville Gill served with No.4 Sqn and No.12 Sqn before retiring in 1948



    ^ 3096 GD(P) Plt Offr Bhasker Dutt of the 31st PC died in a Spitfire crash at the 151 OTU at Ambala on 25th Sep 1945, just weeks before he was to be operational.


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    Senior Member rajkhalsa's Avatar
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    ----=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=----


    Here are images from the 10th anniversery celebrations of the RIAF, on 1st April 1943


    ^ The IAF Colors are paraded during the 10th Anniversary of the IAF



    ^ Field Marshal Wavell reviews the 10th Anniversary parade of the Indian Air Force on 1st April 1943 at SFTS Ambala. Note the Tigermoth flying past at low level before the inspecting officer.



    ^ Field Marshal Wavell reviews the 10th Anniversary parade of the Indian Air Force on 1st April 1943 at SFTS Ambala



    ^ Squadron Leader Mehar Singh stands in front of a Vultee Vengeance during the 10th Anniversary Parade of the Indian Air Force in 1943. The different types of the IAF illustrated by the Hurricane, Audax and Vengeance on display here.


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    Here are some group photos of IAF pilots


    ^ Personnel of 205 RAF Squadron flying the Catalina at Seletar in January 1942. Standing in the middle of last row is Sardar Manmohan Singh, who died in the Japanese raid on Broome, Australia.



    ^ Photograph of Indian Pilots from Walton near Lahore in 1941. Details unknown - believed to have Plt Offr M Barker in the picture.



    ^ Pilots of 8 Squadron check the Squadron's report on Aircrew status. Sqn Ldr Nur Khan is sitting on table in front.



    ^ March 1944. Captain Cotton (rear right), an Army Liaison Officer, gives crews details regarding Japanese positions. The Unit is believed to be 8 Squadron



    ^ Legends Are Us - A Unique photograph taken during the IAF Squadron Commander's conference in 1944.

    Standing (L to R): Flt. Lt. Kipps, Wg. Cdr. Fish, Sqn. Ldr. Arjan Singh, Sqn. Ldr. Upton, Sqn. Ldr. Haider, Gp. Capt. HJC Proud, Sqn. Ldr. Prithpal Singh, Wg. Cdr. Subroto Mukherjee, Sqn. Ldr. Majithia, Sqn. Ldr. Niranjan Prasad and Wg. Cdr. Coot Robinson.

    Sitting (L to R): 'Jumbo' Majumdar, Mehar Singh and Hem Chaudhuri.


    ----=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=----


    Still more tomorrow!
    -Raj

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    Senior Member oldsoak's Avatar
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    Excellent - the contribution of India should not be forhotten.

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    ....very interesting gallery tnx....!!!!

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    Superb post, my man...

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    loved it thank you

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    Default Royal Indian Air Force in WW2 - Lots of Rare Pics

    Awsome

  12. #12
    Senior Member rajkhalsa's Avatar
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    Thanks guys


    ----=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=----


    The Hawker Hurricane had made its name as the the workhorse of RAF's Fighter Command in the skies of Battle of Britain during 1940. The first of these fighters were provided to the IAF in 1942, No.1 Squadron being the first unit earmarked to be so equipped with the aircraft.

    No.2 Squadron followed soon after in September 1942 and No.6 was raised on this aircraft. All the three units went into action in Burma in 1943 and stayed on till the end of 1944. The Hurricanes earned the sobriquet "The eyes of the XIVth Army" while performing Tac R missions. No.6 Squadron's Hurricane pairs were affectionately referred to as "The Arakan Twins" or "The Kaladan Twins" etc by the ground troops.

    Other squadrons like No.3, No.4 , No.7, No.9 and No.10 converted to the Hurricane. Only No.8 was the sole unit not to fly this magnificient aircraft. The Hurricane was obsolete when compared to the Japanese types. Even the RAF was flying the Hurricanes in the Burma Sector. Starting Mid 1943 RAF units started taking on Spitfires. The IAF laboured on with its Hurricanes till late 1945 when the last of the units converted to the Spitfires.



    ^ No. 10 (Hurricane) Squadron Kyaukpyu, Ramree Island, Burma. 4 August 1945. Two RAAF members, P/O Eric Evans of Newcastle, NSW, and P/O WH (Cobber) Pye of Ultimo, NSW with F/O MM Crishna and an undentified Indian Officer with their Hurricane K for Kangaroo.



    ^ Sqn Ldr RFT Doe with members of No.10 Squadron during the visit of the Nawab of Bhopal



    ^ Hurricane IIb Z4573 of 2 Squadron does a power test on the engine. Note the riggers hanging on to the tail to prevent the aircraft from nosing over.



    ^ Hurricane IIc LB835 of No.4 Squadron



    ^ Flying Officer Hrishikesh Moolgavkar of No.10 Squadron waves to his pet dog before take off in his Hurricane. Moolgavkar later survived a near fatal crash in a Spitfire and went on to become the Chief of Air Staff of the Indian Air Force in the Mid-Seventies



    ^ Outside the Miranshah fort near Peshawar, Two Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIc fighters are being worked on by the ground crew. The Hurricanes were inducted in 1942. Armed with four 20mm Cannon and having the capacity to take upto two 250lb bombs, the Hurricane provided the IAF with punch.




    ^ A Hurricane IIc (LE-146- Koel) of No.2 Sqn during takeoff at Akyab, Burma. Notice the white *****es across the wing and the tail fin to facilitate easy identification



    ^ A classic shot of a Hurricane IIc of No.1 Squadron flying over the tribal areas of te North West Frontier Province. This photo of KZ371 was taken over Miranshah.



    ^ A Hurricane II with long range fuel tanks on the Burma front




    ^ Another Hurricane of No.1 Squadron, LF208 flies over the NWFP.



    ^ A Hurricane of No.2 Squadron taxies to refuel at a forward airbase in Assam. The heat and dust necessaited the fitting of a tropical filter below the chin of the aircraft.


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  13. #13
    Senior Member rajkhalsa's Avatar
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    ----=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=----


    The first Supermarine Spitfire with the IAF was a lone Spitfire Mk Vc provided to No.4 Squadron on the eve of the Arakan Campaign. Operated by Indian veterans from the European front, the Spitfire was flown in a pathfinding as well as an interceptor role operating from Cox Bazar.

    The First unit to convert to the Spitfire was No.8 Squadron. It became the only Indian Spitfire unit to see action against the Japanese when it started operations from Cox Bazar in January 1945. The squadron completed its third tour in the front till the Japanese surrender in August 1945.

    After the surrender, the second unit to have the Spitfires, No.4 was given the distinction of forming part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan. The Pilots of which bought back an Okha Rocket plane as a souvenir from Japan!

    The Saga of the Spitfire continued till the late 1950s when No.14 Sqn became the last unit to fly them till they converted to the Hawker Hunter.

    For many years the Spitfire was the dream of every rookie pilot joining the IAF. One topper from the AFA on posting to the Jet Training Wing in Hakimpet begged the Base Commander to do his training on the Spitfire rather than the newly arrived Jet Vampires! Such was the legacy of this elegant and sleek fighter.



    ^ IAF Airmen work on the maintainance of a Spitfire MkVIII.


    ^ IAF Pilots of No.8 Squadron scramble to their Spitfire VIIIs. Note the unique white band on the dark spinner of the second Spitfire



    ^ An IAF Pilot naps on a 250kg bomb in the foreground while Spitfire VIIIs of No.2 Squadron form the backdrop



    ^ "The Yanks stole our Nose Art Idea!" Indian pilots with a Spitfire of No.2 Squadron at Miranshah. Pic Courtesy



    ^ Spitfire VIII of No.8 Squadron in 1945. No.8 was the first IAF squadron to get the Spitfires.



    ^ Servicing a Spitfire in a Jungle setting.



    ^ Spitfire XIVs of No.4 RIAF Sqn being loaded onto a ship for transportation to Japan as part of the BCOF - British Commonwealth Occupation Force. The Sqn was commanded by Sqn Ldr Aspy Engineer DFC, followed by Sqn Ldr Nur Khan



    ^ A classic shot of a Hurricane IIc of No.1 Squadron flying over the tribal areas of te North West Frontier Province. This photo of KZ371 was taken over Miranshah.



    ^ Spitfire XIVs of No.4 undergoing maintainance



    ^ Flt Lt N Haider from a Spitfire Squadron briefs pilots preparatory to an airstrike at Kangaw Valley.


    ^ The Flight Commander of No.8 Squadron, Flt Lt Haider briefs Fg Offs Thandi, Zahid, Philip, Beg, Subia, Mendoza and Aziz


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    Cheers,
    Raj

  14. #14
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    Fantastic post! Can I ask where the photos come from? We may wish to source these for future exhibitions (I work for the Imperial War Museum).

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    Good post, nicepics

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