LUFTWAFFE TARGET RECONNAISSANCE PHOTOGRAPHY
OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND
THE SITE OF
LUFTWAFFE AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHS OF WW2 BRITAIN
The Luftwaffe Aerial Pictures of the UK in WW2
Britain's towns, cities and landscapes have changed greatly since the Second World War. Through the destruction of war, the Luftwaffe opened a window on a United Kingdom never to be the same again. The great ports of the west were blighted by bombs and the centres of our industrial cities were ripped apart.
In the post war reconstruction of Britain huge changes have occurred.
The population has increased, motorways have been built, industry has migrated from the centre of town and cities, farms have and field size have grown.
The Luftwaffe archive of reconnaissance photography provides a unique record of the landscape of the past.
The aircraft are flying due west - the two docks are the Royal Albert Docks - the one to the right is the Victoria Dock . Blitz raid on Silvertown, London.7th September 1940
A Brief History of the Reconnaissance Photographs of the Luftwaffe
In the first years of the Second World War, and the years leading up to it, Hitler ordered the Luftwaffe to undertake a secret aerial reconnaissance of the United Kingdom (and all of Europe) in preparation for an invasion. After the collapse of the Third Reich, the race to salvage the secrets of Hitler’s huge intelligence gathering operation began. The Luftwaffe archive was of extreme value both to the west and the Soviet Union and competing Soviet and Allied intelligence operatives searched desperately in the debris of the Third Reich for archive of the Luftwaffe.
In June 1945, British intelligence Unit stumbled upon 16 tons of reconnaissance pictures in a barn at Bad Reichenall, deep in the forests of Bavaria. The entire cache was transported and flown back to Britain. There were no announcements and few people were aware of this major discovery. The archive was classified as top secret and disappeared into the vaults of CIA and the British secret service.
Fragments of this unique record did leach out and in 1974 the entire Luftwaffe archive was declassified and free for public access. There is no complete archive and many of the records are missing yet to be discovered.
22.Firth of Forth Bridge.
16th October, 1939
The aerial photograph of the attack on the
Forth Bridge. The ships in the picture are
the cruisers HMS Southampton and
HMS Edinburgh with the destroyer HMS
Mohawk. The Mohawk sustained bomb
damage in the attack. The Luftwaffe's main
target was the Forth Bridge, that the ships
were there was a coincidence.
Luftwaffe Aerial Reconnaissance Photographs of England, Scotland and Wales
ADOLF’S BRITISH HOLIDAY SNAPS.
I recently published this new hard back book about the images which is now available & signed from me.
There are many images of the United Kingdom with background information to the Luftwaffe aerial reconnaissance photographs.
I am also available to give talks on this subject.
Hardback: 224 pages
Cover Price: £18.99 (includes UK postage)
Author: Nigel J. Clarke ISBN: 978 1 78155 105 9
Identified as Woodbury Common. By Glenville McLean of Canada
October update on Luftwaffe Site.
I am always amazed at the use of these images. In the years since I first published the book "Adolf Hitler's Holiday Snaps", I have supplied images for many and varied purposes. Subject include: A footpath dispute, a local council which wanted to examine the changes in tree cover since WW2. I also had a developer looking for polluted industrial waste, on a site that he had bought. Another request was from a company, looking for unexploded ordnance. There was also an archaeologist researching a lost Neolithic settlement, in Dorset.
I have had letters about lost landmarks, building bombed and the ghostly outline old warship (HMS Foylebank) sunk in Portland Harbour. I sold a set to the National Library of Ireland who never knew that the Luftwaffe had recorded, by aerial imagery, the targets in the Republic.
I am often asked how I became interested in these images. The truth is mundane. I live on the coast and was interested in the history of my local area where large parts of the coast fall into the sea on a regular basis. I wanted to know what the coast and cliffs looked like in the past. A written description would not do and paintings and lithographs often leave out features. I found an image of the coast taken by Luftwaffe of a cliff near where I live called “Black Ven.”
Two of the images that I had trouble identifying have been identified after an open competition which I put on this site. I do not know how, but I am indebted to Mr Glenville McLean of Canada for his dogged persistence and correctly identifying an unclassified image of Woodbury Common in Devon. The military camp in the picture (I think) was a staging camp for the American forces in WW2. The area is greatly changed and is now a golf course.
The new book “Adolf’s British Holiday Snaps” (which was published by Fonthill Media) has attracted considerable interest from the media. I would like to thank all those people who have emailed me about the images and supplied further information on them.
Nigel J Clarke