News

What RAF-pilots saw during the liberation

Published on
April 15, 2020

On May 5 2020, the Netherlands will celebrate the 75th anniversary of its liberation in World War II. The Library is commemorating the Dutch liberation with a small online exhibition. The exhibition contains 34 aerial photographs and some details of these photographs. The images have been added to Wageningen University & Research Image Collections.

Online exhibition

The aerial photographs in the online exhibition, 75 Years Liberation in aerial photographs, are presented chronologically. The series starts with a few items about the beginning of World War II, and focuses on events that took place from September 1944 to May 1945. The photos are just a small selection from a collection of over 94,000 aerial photographs held by Wageningen University & Research – Library, Special Collections.

RAF-collection

During reconnaissance flights in small airplanes, pilots of the Allied Air Forces photographed parts of the Dutch occupied territory. The aerial photographs were mainly taken between September 1944 and May 1945 during the liberation of the Netherlands. The photos show traces of German defence structures, and bombarded cities, landing strips, bridges, harbours, etc. Traces from Allied actions, such as Operation Market Garden, crashed airplanes, inundations and bombings can also be seen on the photos.

The RAF-collection is a unique source for historical research on World War II. The images are also used to trace unexploded bombs and ammunition and to study changes of topographical features and land use in the 20th century. Even archaeological and pre-war historical traces can be found on the aerial photographs.

All RAF aerial photographs are digitally available in the WUR Geoportal. You can explore them in their geographical context by selecting an area on the map or search by location or flight data.

These Allied Air Force photographs were made under Crown Copyright which lasted for 50 years after production.

The RAF aerial photographs can be downloaded for free in low resolution for personal and non-commercial use. In the case of commercial use or (digital) publication, a high quality image has to be purchased at Dotka Data. Special Collections of WUR Library is the holder of the original images.

Arnhem
Arnhem
Deventer
Deventer
Airplanes near Wolfheze
Airplanes near Wolfheze
Market square in Wageningen
Market square in Wageningen