Migrants of War: IWM North reveals the changing faces of Britain during World War Two

| 14 September 2015

Mixing It: The Changing Faces of Wartime Britain at IWM North reveals the forgotten histories of those who came to Britain during WWII and how the national and ethnic diversity of the British population changed

The Indian test pilot

A photo of a smiling Flying Officer P C Ramachandran, of the Indian Air Force, in the cockpit of a Spitfire,1942
Flying Officer P C Ramachandran, of the Indian Air Force© IWM D9503
Flying Officer P C Ramachandran AFC, of the Indian Air Force, in the cockpit of a Spitfire prior to a test flight in 1942. During World War Two over 17,000 Indians volunteered to join the RAF alongside 25,000 Indians who fought in the Indian Air Force. Thirty seven officers from Indian Air Force flew with the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain in 1940.

Honduran foresters
a photo of a group of forestry workers sawing wood outside
The British Honduras forestry unit in Britain, 1941© IWM D 6390
Eight hundred men volunteered for the British Honduras Forestry Unit crossing the Atlantic to work in camps deep within Scottish forests. The men worked mainly on the production of pit props, pit wood, and wood pulp.

Dutch child refugees

a photo of a two young boys and a girl each with labels on their coats and a small package under their arms, Dutch child refugees arriving at Tilbury, Essex in 1945
Dutch child refugees Tilbury, Essex, 1945© IWM (D 24054)
In 1945 Britain took refugee children from Holland, which had just suffered a crippling a winter of famine. Here a group of Dutch refugee children walk away from the ship upon which they have just arrived. They have berthed at Tilbury Docks in Essex and will be taken to a rest centre, before onward transport to a hostel.

American Red Cross Nurse

a photo of a woman serving coffee to two GIs leaning out of a railway carriage
American Red Cross girl serves coffee to recently arrived United States servicemen© IWM H 37401
From the beginning of 1942 thousands of American service personnel began pouring into Britain. Here a woman from the American Red Cross is seen serving coffee to recently arrived GIs.

Australian Airmen

a black and white photo of five Australian airmen in front of their Wellington bomber
The Royal Australian Air Force at RAF Leconfield, Yorkshire,1943© IWM CH 11173
The first all Australian crew in Bomber Command to complete a tour of operations (with No 466 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force) stand in front of their Vickers Wellington bomber at RAF Leconfield, Yorkshire. Left to right: Flight Sergeant J P Hetherington (bomb aimer), Pilot Officer A C Winston (rear gunner), Pilot Officer J H Cameron (captain), Flight Sergeant J Samuels (W/O - air gunner), and Pilot Officer J J Allan (navigator).

German POWs

a photo of men filing on to a dockside via a slipway - German U-boat prisoners arriving in Scotland
German U-boat prisoners arrive. 6 January 1942, Greenock, Scotland© IWM A 7072
January 1942, German U-boat prisoners arrive in Greenock, Scotland. Initially, when the threat of a German invasion of Britiain remained real, many German POWs were shipped to Canada and the US. By the end of the war over half a million were held in Britain.

Italian POWs

a photo of a men walking down a gangplank onto a dockside for a ship
Italian prisoners of war arriving in Liverpool. 26 April 1942.© IWM A 8469
From July 1941, Italian prisoners captured in the Middle East were brought to Britain. This was the first major influx of prisoners of war to the country. After the the Italian surrender in 1943, 100,000 Italians volunteered to work as 'co-operators'. They were given considerable freedom and mixed with local people.

Kiwi Airmen

a black and white photograph of men in uniform smiling and waving to the camera
More New Zealand airmen for the RAF (undated).© IWM CH 1224
A further contingent of airmen of the RNZAF arrive in Britain to serve with the RAF. The men are armourers, and wireless operators for ground duties. New Zealanders of No. 75 Squadron of the Royal Air Force operated as a bomber unit in World War II.

Polish soldiers

a black and white photo of a group of soldiers at a bar drinking coffee
Polish soldiers enjoying coffee at a milk bar, London, 1940© IWM D 1733
Polish soldiers enjoying coffee at a milk bar, London, 1940. By March 1944, the Polish armed forces fighting under British command numbered 195,000 including about 20,000 personnel in the Polish Air Force and 3,000 in the Polish Navy.

West Indian Technicians

a black and white photograph of a group of West Indian men next to a bus
West Indian war workers in Britain: a group of Jamaican technicians outside West India House© IWM L24
Labour shortages meant that Britain turned to the colonies for skilled labour during World War Two. Here West Indian war workers in Britain - Jamaican technicians -   pose for a photo outside West India House in London.

  • Mixing It: The Changing Faces of Wartime Britain is at the WaterWay Gallery, IWM North until February 2016. Free Entry, Donations Welcome @IWMNorth; iwm.org.uk

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Thank you for this (Migrants of War: IWM North reveals the changing faces of Britain during World War Two).

My Grandfather was a Honduran Forrester, I have never seen an image of them working before today.. and never heard of them being acknowledged until now.
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