WWII, Spitfire, One Arm Mac, RAF, Royal Air Force, Douglas Bader, Battle of Britain

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by Paul Reynolds.

1. I could do that with one arm…

Aerial combat in WWII took a special breed, and Squadron Leader James MacLachlan, nicknamed “one-arm Mac,” certainly fit the bill. “Mac” had his arm amputated after being wounded on a mission, and remarkably, it only sidelined him for seven months. There were more than a few pilots who flew for the Royal Air Force (RAF) with prosthetic limbs and became aces. Pilot (and later Sir) Douglas Bader lost both his legs in a training accident in 1931. Originally barred from flying again, the RAF agreed to let him do it in 1940, because of a severe pilot shortage. It turned out to be a good move for both Bader and Britain, as the double amputee was credited with 22 kills, making him a quadruple ace.

British army, North Africa, Bernard Montgomery, Second battle of El Alamein, Sahara, Tunisia

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by Doug.

2. The face of grit

These two British soldiers are putting a brave face on the ugly side of war. If they seem filthy that’s because they are, as the sands from the Sahara Desert in Tunisia coat their uniforms. The two suffered wounds during the Battle of Mareth Line in March of 1943. The battle was a follow up to the famous Second Battle of El Alamein, and both battles were led by the controversial British General Bernard Montgomery. Even though Montgomery won a stunning victory at El Alamein, it took him almost five months to follow it up and press his advantage. Ever the cautious commander, these two brave lads were wounded when the British exposed a gap in the German lines, but waited days to exploit it.

Cox. Colorized by Matthew Black.

3. Marry me! Errrrr, just don’t beat me up

This is Veronica Foster aka the “Ronnie the Bren Gun Girl,” aka Canada’s “Rosie the Riveter.” Canada employed almost a million women in manufacturing jobs alone during WWII, and the United States’s figure is 2.8 million (in conjunction with the 400,000 that served in the armed forces). At the conclusion of the war, experts cited Germany and Japan’s lack of using women for the war effort as one of the deciding factors in them losing. Instead, they relied on the use of slaves, whose passive methods of resistance included working slow, and manufacturing bombs that didn’t work.

WWII, United States of America, Great Britain, Supermarine Spitfire, Mediterranean, North Africa, Italy, Gibraltar, USAAF, Navy, WWII

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by Paul Reynolds.

4. That’s a lot of spit

A trained eye might think this photograph is a fake. That’s a British Supermarine Spitfire with American stars painted on it. While the British relied heavily on American ships, equipment, and weapons during WWII, the US Army Air Force (USAAF) and Navy only employed about 600 of the British fighters. This one was likely lost somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea, as the USAAF operated their Spitfires out of Gibraltar in aid of Allied efforts in North Africa and Italy.

WWII, Finland, sniper, dog, boy soldier, Winter War, Continuation War, 1940-1941, Soviet Union, Germany, Simho Hayha

SA-kuva. Colorized by Jared Enos.

5. Boy and his dog

Like many countries in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia during WWII, Finland found itself caught between a rock and a hard place. They allied with the Germans to make a successful stand against a Soviet invasion in 1939–1940, then later fought on the Soviet side against Germany. Unconventional warfare tactics were employed by the Finish army, and the use of snipers cloaked in white to match the snow was common. One such sniper, Simo Häyhä, is believed to be the deadliest sniper in history. Estimates say he killed around 250 Soviet troops using a rifle (and the same amount with a machine gun) with iron sites just like the one held by the boy in this photo.

WWII, Dauntless Dotty, Memphis Belle, Major Morgan, Captain Morgan, United States, Japan, Tokyo, fire bombing, B-29, USAAF

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by Leo Courvoisier.

6. I’ll name my plane after you if you marry me

The B-29 Superfortress in the background has a decidedly storied reputation. It was piloted by famed Major Robert Morgan who previously flew the Memphis Belle in Europe, which was the first bomber to complete a combat tour of 25 missions (no small feat). In this photo, crews get ready to load Dauntless Dotty (named after Morgan’s third wife, and the Belle after a different sweetheart #loverboy) with 500-pound, high explosive bombs in a mission over Tokyo. Terrible accuracy during the raid resulted in USAAF leaders dropping the plane down from 30,000 to below 5,000 feet in future missions, as well as switching to incendiary bombs.

Flying Tigers, Pappy Boyington, Tex Hill, Claire Chennault

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by Tom Thounaojam.

7. Flying Tigers

This Chinese Nationalist soldier (as opposed to Chinese Communist soldier that fought the Japanese under Mao Zedong) guards P-40 Warhawks of the infamous Flying Tigers. Led by Claire Chennault the handful of volunteer fighter pilots from all branches of the US military employed innovative tactics to take the fight to the enemy. Anyone claiming the Doolittle Raid as the first to bring the fight to the Japanese would be mistaken, as the Flying Tigers saw combat less than two weeks after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Aside from Chennault, the Flying Tigers included legendary pilots Gregory “Pappy” Boyington and David Lee “Tex” Hill.

Lucky Strike

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by Paul Reynolds.

8. Got a light?

This geared up paratrooper from the 17th Airborne got his cigarette lit by a member of the 6th Armored Guards Brigade. If that’s a Lucky Strike he’s smoking then it’s likely the British soldier asked him for a cigarette. “Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco” was an advertising slogan introduced by the brand around the time this photo was taken. C Rations for US troops during WWII included nine cigarettes, and the most coveted of them were Lucky Strikes. Cigarettes were considered to be essential to troop moral by the top brass in WWII.

Leonard Haines

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by Paul Reynolds.

9. The few

British Flying Officer Leonard Haines sits proudly on top of his Spitfire in the early days of WWII. Haines played a heavy role in the Battle of Britain and is credited with several aerial kills. Tragically, Haines was killed at the young age of 21, as his prowess as a combat pilot saw him being posted as an instructor, where he died in an accident. The defense of Britain in the air caused Germany to call off Operation Sea Lion, which would’ve been the invasion of the island. For their bravery, Prime Minister Winston Churchill said of the pilots, “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.”

WWII, Night witches, Red Army, Soviet Union, women soldiers, female soldiers, Hero of Russia, WWII

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by Olga Shirnina.

10. Night witches!

They don’t look like witches, but raining death from above in the darkness will get you a title like that! The German army learned to fear pilots like Rufina Gasheva and Nataly Meklin (pictured) who were so good at their job they both received “Heroes of the Soviet Union” honors (the medal can be seen below and to the right of their collars), which is the Soviet equivalent of the Medal of Honor. These two pilots combined for over 1800 missions, sometimes flying eight sorties in a single night.

WWII, United States Army, Easter eggs for hitler, writing on bombs, black soldiers, segregation, artillery, Battle of the Bulge, 1944-1945, Thomas, Jackson

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by Johhny Sirlande.

11. Present for me?!

Soldiers William E. Thomas and Joseph Jackson were part of the heroic 333rd Field Artillery Battalion who suffered 50% losses in the opening days of the Battle of the Bulge. Less than two months after the battle, Thomas and Jackson can be seen smiling with their special Easter presents for Hitler. The 155mm shells do slightly resemble Easter eggs, and the fact that Thomas placed his in a basket adds to the hilarity. Hitler probably wouldn’t have liked the joke because, historians say, he was against organized religion. Historians also agree he was against bombs meant to kill him.

Lancaster bomber, Nissen hut

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by Paul Edwards.

12. Brrrrrrr!

This crew of a British Lancaster heavy bomber is warming up in their Nissen hut after returning from a bombing raid over Stuttgart, Germany. Perhaps it’s the March weather in Lincolnshire, England that has them cold, or more likely it was the -40 degree temperature at 30,000 feet. Prior to the advent of the B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers were not pressurized, exposing crews to the elements. Oxygen masks were around, but saliva and mucous build up often caused them to freeze. Gloves were also essential because gunners would certainly lose them to frost bite after gripping the cold metal of their machine guns.

Brewster Buffalo 239

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by Tommi Rossi.

13. Lucky

This Finnish Brewster Buffalo 239 fighter is reportedly parked at an airfield, but the photo certainly doesn’t lend much to that claim. What’s striking about this photo is the insignia on the bottom side of the wing, which is the blue swastika adopted by the Finnish Air Force. The blue swastika, unlike the one adopted by Germany, is an ancient symbol of the sun and good luck. It’s all for not though, because upon closer inspection that’s a black cat walking in front of the plane (just kidding, that’s a stamp from the photographer).

2nd Lieutenant Robert Wade Biesecker

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by Benjamin Thomas

14. Unlucky

Dogs were common mascots for squadrons and crews of B-17 bombers during WWII, and that’s easy to understand, but it appears that the man next to US Air Force pilot 2nd Lieutenant Robert Wade Biesecker is holding a black cat! Probably nothing was more unlucky than being assigned to the Army Air Force as part of the crew of a heavy bomber. Even around the clock bombing on German cities and industry didn’t stop them from increasing fighter production in 1944 to record levels. With the exception of ground forces in direct combat, US Army Air Force crews suffered the highest casualty rate of WWII.

Sherman tank

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by Royston Leonard.

15. Lucky stars

This crew of an M4A1 Sherman tank are thanking their lucky stars as they enjoy a cup of coffee. Their tank wasn’t destroyed by German fire, but rather overturned when it slipped off a road in Italy near the Gothic Line. While their tank is certainly out of action, the fate of the crew was certainly better than most Sherman tank crews knocked out of combat in WWII. Because of the fact that they had a terrible habit of catching fire when struck by enemy shells, the Germans had an ominous nickname for the mass produced tank: Tommy Cookers.

Kriegsberichter, Operation Barbarossa

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by Royston Leonard

16. Read between the lines

This is a rare photograph of a Kriegsberichter, or German war correspondent. This photo was taken on the Eastern Front sometime in 1941 during Operation Barbarossa, which was the German invasion of the Soviet Union. It looks like he’s taking cover behind this out of action Soviet tank as he figures out what to shoot. Film captured by the Kreigsberichter were important for German propaganda, and even though the war was going well for the Germans when this photo was taken, the coming Russian winter was about to change all that.

T-35, T-34

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by Royston Leonard

17. Down but not out

These German soldiers are posing on a knocked out Soviet T-35 tank in the early days of Operation Barbarossa. The T-35 employs old WWI concepts to its design; a hulking chunk of medal with multiple small caliber guns. It was the advent of the T-34 tank however that turned the tide of the war for the Russians. The T-34 was smaller, faster, and had a much larger 76.2mm gun. The advent of the T-34 came just in time to help turn the tide of the war against the Germans, and the Russians fell in love with it so much that built over 150,000 various versions of it during and after the war.

Pavuvu, Russell Islands, Operation Clean Slate

Vintage Everday. Colorized by Royston Leonard.

18. Clean slate

These Marines taking part in Operation Clean Slate have nothing to fear (yet) as they reach the shores of the abandoned island of Pavuvu. The Japanese used the island as a staging ground for their evacuation of the Solomon Islands, and left even before US forces attacked. It would become an important staging ground for future operations such as the invasion of Peleliu. Eventually, a large airbase would grace the island, which prompted Japanese naval forces to conduct several bombing raids on the island.

WWII, Eugene Sledge, USMC, Marines, Peleliu, Pacific Theater, Island hopping, With the old breed, United States

Vintage Everyday. Colorized and researched by Benjamin Thomas.

19. Semper fidelis

These young, brave Marines have no idea what they’re about to get into. Peleliu was a terrible battle made worse by the fact that US leadership forgot to send their Marines ashore with any water! A young Marine named Eugene Sledge would later immortalize the battle in his memoir With the Old Breed. After the battle he writes, “I felt like a weary insect climbing a vine. But at last I was crawling up out of the abyss of Peleliu! … But something in me died at Peleliu … Possibly I lost faith that politicians in high places who do not have to endure war’s savagery will ever stop blundering and sending others to endure it.”

WWII, Soviets, Red army, stuka dive bomber, Germany, Soviet Union

Waralbum.ru. Colorized by Matthew Black.

20. What goes up, must come down

This group of Soviet troops are firing at a German aircraft flying overhead. If the prospect of hitting a moving aircraft with a rifle seems ridiculous to you, that’s because it is. But if you encountered a Stuka dive-bomber thundering down from the sky, screaming with murderous tenacity, you might want to take a shot at it too. War is typically not a venture best done while lying on your back, but they all seem pretty motivated. The only problem is, where do those bullets go after firing into the sky?

WWII, GI, uniforms, Battle of the Bulge, Medic, US Army, United States, January 1945, sabotage

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by Joey Van Meesen.

21. Clothes shopping

These medics are sorting through captured German equipment just a week after the Battle of the Bulge. What was alarming to them was the amount of US Government Issued (GI) clothing they found. The German attack just before Christmas 1944 commenced when elite German paratroopers — dawning GI uniforms and speaking practiced English — were dropped behind Allied lines. They proceeded to steer US Army elements in the wrong direction, disrupt communications, and conduct many other forms of sabotage. Not to put words in their mouths, but the medic on the right is saying he’ll trade those boots and socks for that jacket. Just a theory.

WWII, F6F Hellcat, aircraft carrier, Pacific Theater, hero, valor, Lt. Walter L. Chewning, Byron M. Johnson, US Navy, US Marines

Wikimedia Commons. Colorized by Matthew Black.

22. Get me out’a here!

Let’s get the burning (sorry) question answered first: yes, the pilot survived, and he even came away unharmed. Pilot Byron M. Johnson can thank the heroism of Catapult Officer Lt. Walter L. Chewning for that. What’s striking about this image is of course the burning F6F Hellcat, but look at what Lt. Chewning is standing on. That’s an external fuel tank engulfed in flames that he seems completely unconcerned about. Sources say the fuel tank was ruptured and leaking while engulfed in flames. This act of bravery prompted both the Navy and Marine Corp to award Lt. Chewning medals for valor.

WWII, Soviet Union, Red Army, Artillery, 76mm divisional gun, industry, industrialization, oder river, germany,

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by Royston Leonard.

23. Those caissons go rolling along

These Soviet soldiers are just miles from the German border and receiving the full brunt of the Wehrmarcht defending their homeland. By the end of 1944 and early 1945, the Red Army had reclaimed nearly all the territory lost in Germany’s Operation Barbarrosa. They were producing weapons like this 76mm divisional gun on a massive scale. Fortunately for the Russians, the drive across the Oder River, as pictured here, was made easier by Hitler’s insistence on moving essential armored units west in an offensive against the advancing American and British armies. It would prove to be a costly blunder that sped up Germany’s demise.

WWII, Cape Glouchester, USMC, Marines, United States, Japan, Japanese Empire,

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by Doug.

24. A picture’s worth a thousand words

If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then how many thousand is this one worth? This heartbreaking photograph shows a battle-weary group from the 1st Marine Division on Cape Gloucester. It was taken on the eve of the battle’s conclusion, and the Marines’ blank expressions give us only the tip of the iceberg as to how they feel about winning the battle. According to reports, these particular young men experienced 23 days straight on the front line, fighting a fierce Japanese enemy. You can bet it wasn’t easy for them by those flags they’re holding.

WWII, Soviet Union, Red Army, T-34, prayers, trenches. Battle of Kursk, tanks, crushed, Eastern Front

Mark Markov-Grinberg/Waralbum.ru. Colorized by Matthew Black.

25. No atheists in foxholes

You can almost hear this Soviet soldier’s prayer as he closes his eyes and leaves his fate up to higher forces. That’s actually one of his comrades driving a T-34 tank overhead in the Battle of Kursk. The battle was the largest tank engagement in the history of warfare, and saw the Germans engage an extremely well entrenched Soviet army. Instances of men in trenches being crushed by tanks on the Eastern Front were not uncommon. The tank itself isn’t the worry — the ground on both sides buckled from the weight of the over 50,000 pound armored vehicle.

WWII, london, the blitz, 1940-1941, milkman, bombing, bombs, Great Britain, England, United Kingdom, resolve, Germany

Rare Historical Photos. Colorized by Ari Bernstein.

26. Cheerio mate

British resolve during WWII is legendary and this photo shows exactly why. “The Blitz” of late 1940 and early 1941 was Germany’s attempt to bring England to its knees. Instead, all it did was strengthen their spirit. Despite nightly aerial bombings on population centers such as London, this milkman nonchalantly navigates his delivery amid the rubble from the previous nights raid. Firemen are still putting out the fires from German bombs, but as they say, “life goes on.”

Spanish American War, WWI, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Jimmy Stewart, James Stewart, Brigadier General James Stewart, USSAF, United States, movie star, celebrity, WWII

Vintage Everyday. Colorized by John Gulizia.

27. Get to work, son!

Dad was wheeling and dealing at his hardware store while movie-star son Jimmy Stewart was planning a date. Stewart had already reached legendary status as an actor for films like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington before he enlisted in the army in 1941. Stewart deserves his smile, as he did not use his celebrity status to coast through the war. He flew 20 combat missions, and stayed in the military until 1968, achieving the rank of Brigadier General. His father was surely proud, as he was a veteran of both the Spanish-American War and WWI.

C-47, Franco, Spain, Great Britain, United Kingdom, United States, Allies, Gibraltar, search lights, WWII, North Africa, Italy, Malta, Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean

Wikimedia Commons. Colorized by Matthew Black.

28. Welcome to the rock!

Search lights illuminate the darkening sky as this Allied C-47 transport plane prepares for flight. In the background is the ultimate defensive position in the rock of Gibraltar. The strategic location of “the rock” was vital to Allied success in the naval arenas of the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Within the rock are networks of caves and tunnels that connect barracks, supply depots, and even a hospital. Hitler hoped that Generalissimo Franco of Spain would join the Axis side so he could come up behind Gibraltar where its defenses were less impressive. Luckily for the Allies (and Spain), Franco decided to remain neutral during WWII.

522nd Artillery, 442nd Regimental Combat team, Japan, Japanese American, United States, segregation, Medal of Honor, gothic line, germans, italy

Rare Historical Photos

29. Fighting the good fight

That’s not a Japanese soldier fighting for the empire, but a Private in the US 522nd Field Artillery unit in Italy. Japanese Americans, though rounded up and interned at home in the States, were finally given the chance to serve for their country in 1943 (though only in segregated units). The most famous of units was the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The 442nd had an extremely distinguished combat record and 21 of its members received the Medal of Honor. Perhaps the most famous of instances was that of Daniel Inouye, who single-handedly cleared three German machine gun nests stationed on the Gothic Line, after being shot in the stomach and having one of his arms nearly severed.

WWII, VE Day, Victory in Europe, May 8, 1945, London, Great Britain, United Kingdom, civilians

Vintage Everyday. Colorized and researched by Benjamin Thomas.

30. Share your smile with the world!

Go ahead and try to find a person that isn’t smiling (okay, there’s a couple). After almost six years of war for the British, these battle-hardened citizens rejoiced at news the war in Europe was over. May 8, 1945 will forever be known as VE Day, or “Victory in Europe Day.” The news didn’t exactly come as a surprise. Hitler committed suicide only a week earlier, and the German army around Berlin mainly consisted of boys and old men. What’s interesting about that is, this photo is almost completely devoid of men of fighting age. While up to 25 million fighting men died in the war, that number is eclipsed by the over 50 million civilians killed. Given WWII’s extreme strain on civilian populations, this London photo doesn’t only show jubilation, but also relief.

Colorized Photographs by Matthew Black were created using Algorithmia Color Photos