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80th anniversary of the Second World War

Britain entered the Second World War 80 years ago, on 3rd September 1939. Following the German invasion of Poland, Britain and France declared war on Germany. British soldiers and airmen were sent to France to prepare for an expected invasion.


Photographic reconnaissance of western Germany enabled the Allies to gather vital intelligence. Missions were flown by the Secret Intelligence Service, the French Deuxieme Bureau and the Royal Air Force. Many of these early photographs were lost when the Germans invaded France in May 1940.


Over 1,000 British, French and German images taken in the early days of the war are now accessible on our website.

3 September 2019