THE HELL BELOW; Revealed at Last I the Aerial Pictures That Show the True Horror of the Second World War

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tom Newton Dunn

THEY are an astonishing record of the most heroic, nerve-racking and ghastly moments of World War Two.

These birdOs eye views of battlefields and Nazi occupied Western Europe are published for the first time today.

Until now, almost all of the aerial reconnaissance pictures taken by daring RAF pilots behind enemy lines during World War Two have never been seen outside a tiny top secret circle. But after more than 60 years

collecting dust behind locked doors, the five million once highly classified snaps will be available for all to view on a new official internet site,, launched this Monday.

Perhaps the singularly most important aerial snap taken during the war was of the legendary German battleship, the Bismarck.

The lone flier, Pilot Officer Suckling, found the enormous hulk and her three support vessels following behind, lurking off the coast of Norway on May 21, 1941. With the Royal NavyOs fleet alerted, the Bismarck had been sunk within seven days of the snap being taken, giving a massive and much- needed morale boost to Britain and her beleaguered troops. Some of the bravest pilots Britain had were tasked with the ultra- risky job of low level reconnaissance flying over enemy-held territory.

All had to grapple with the tortuous dilemma that the lower they flew, the better the picture would be, but the more chance there was of them being shot down.

Pilot Officer Suckling, for example, was killed on a mission in June 1941, less than a month after he found the Bismarck. One of the few people allowed into the National Archives, in Kew, where the grainy black and white images have been stored, was Hollywood director Steven Spielberg.

He was given special access to research the TV series Band Of Brothers and his Oscar- winning war film Saving Private Ryan.

The blood and chaos of battle as it unfolds is also captured vividly by the air aces, as the photographs taken on D-Day prove. …