Entries are listed alphabetically. The first line (in bold) is the full name of the person, which is also a hyperlink to every item in the IBCC Digital Archive described with that tag. The second line (in italics) contains alternative forms such as nicknames or equivalences in other languages. Each entry is supplemented with a concise biography and links to related concepts.
Harold Alexander, Field Marshal the 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis (1891–1969) became the Allied commander of the Mediterranean theatre in World War Two. Alexander joined the Army in 1911 and fought on the Western Front during World War One. In early World War Two he commanded part of the British Expeditionary Force in France and was on the last destroyer to leave Dunkirk. In early 1942 he was posted to India and promoted to General to oversee the British Forces in Burma (now Myanmar). By August 1942 Alexander became Commander-in-Chief of Middle East and oversaw Montgomery’s victory at El Alamein. As Dwight Eisenhower’s deputy he led the combined Allied ground troops in defeating the German Forces in North Africa. Alexander subsequently commanded Allied Forces in Sicily and Italy and, promoted to Field Marshal in 1944, took the German surrender in Italy in April 1945. Post war he became Governor General of Canada.
Sir Claude Auchinleck (1884 – 1981) had two spells during World War Two as Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army between which he was Commander-in-Chief Middle East Forces. Auchinleck joined the India Army in 1904 and during World War One saw action in the Middle East. During World War Two in 1940 he was promoted to General and Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army. Posted to Command the Middle East Forces in July 1941 he had initial successes in pushing back the German Army but then suffered defeats as the Germans counter-attacked. Auchinleck did however stop the German advance at the first battle of El Alamein. In June 1943 Auchinleck was again appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army where he supported the troops in the Burma campaign. In June 1946 he was promoted to Field Marshal and helped prepare the Indian Army prior to the partition of India and Pakistan.
Air Vice Marshall Donald Clifford Tyndall Bennett (1910–1986) was the Air Officer Commanding of 8 Group Bomber Command during World War Two. Born in Australia Don Bennett joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1930 and learned to fly, transferring to the Royal Air Force in 1931. He joined Imperial Airways in 1935 and began specialising in long distance navigation. Rejoining the RAF in 1941 Bennett was in command of 10 Squadron in April 1942 for an attack on the Tirpitz during which he was shot down. He escaped by walking across Norway into Sweden from where he was repatriated. In August 1942 he was chosen to command the new Pathfinder Force which, in January 1943 became 8 (Pathfinder) Group. Bennett became the youngest ever Air Vice Marshall and utilised new techniques and equipment such as Gee, Oboe, H2S, target indicators and the use of a Master Bomber. Bennett forged the Pathfinders into a unit with a strong sense of identity and loyalty.
Roy Chadwick (1893-1947) was the designer of the Lancaster. Chadwick started with Avro in 1911 and became Chief Designer in 1918. In response to a 1936 specification he designed the Manchester which entered service in late 1940. However problems with the twin-engined design were already apparent and Chadwick modified the airframe to take four Merlin engines; the resulting aeroplane became the Lancaster. It first flew in January 1941 and became operational in March 1942. By May 1945 Lancasters had dropped two-thirds of the total Bomber Command tonnage. 7377 Lancasters were built. Chadwick modified the aircraft to take the bouncing bomb for the Eder, Möhne and Sorpe operation (16/17 May 1943) as well as later modifications for the Tallboy and Grand Slam bombs that could only be carried by the Lancaster. Chadwick was killed in a flying accident in 1947. The Chadwick Centre at the International Bomber Command Centre is named after him.
The Right Honourable Arthur Neville Chamberlain FRS (1869 – 1940) was the Conservative Prime Minister 1937 – 1940. His period in office was dominated by the policy of appeasement towards Adolf Hitler. Neville Chamberlain became an MP in 1918 and Prime Minister in 1937. His main policy was one of appeasement especially towards Hitler’s expansionist aims for Germany. During 1938 he attempted to dissuade Hitler from his aim to annexe the Sudentenland of Czechoslovakia and declared the Munich Treaty of September 1938 as “peace for our time”. He abandoned his appeasement policy in April 1939 when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia. Following the German invasion of Poland Chamberlain declared war on Germany on 3rd September 1939. In May 1940 Chamberlain resigned as Prime Minister having lost Parliamentary support following the Norway campaign. He continued to serve in Winston Churchill’s war government until ill health forced his resignation in September 1940; he died in November 1940.
Baron Cheshire of Woodhall VC, OM, DSO and two bars, DFC (1917-1992) became the most decorated pilot in Bomber Command during World War Two. Geoffrey Leonard Cheshire joined the Royal Air Force in 1937 and flew Whitley and Halifax aircraft in 102 Squadron and 35 Squadron respectively. By August 1942 he was in command of 76 Squadron and by March 1943 he was the youngest ever Group Captain and placed in charge of RAF Marston Moor. Cheshire returned to operational flying when he commanded 617 Squadron in September 1943. Whilst with 617 Squadron he pioneered low level marking techniques using Lancaster, Mosquito and P-51 aircraft. His methods enabled the squadron to become highly accurate, including using the Tallboy bomb against V-Weapon sites. He left the squadron in July 1944. Cheshire was awarded the Victoria Cross having flown a total of 100 operations. Post-war Cheshire founded the Leonard Cheshire Disability Charity.
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874 – 1965) was a soldier, author and politician who became Prime Minister during World War Two. Churchill’s early life was a mix of military adventurism and journalism. He became an MP in 1900 and during World War One he was First Sea Lord, a commander on the Western Front and guided the development of the tank. Churchill was out of office 1929-1939 but warned of the growing Nazi threat. He was however ignored during the period of appeasement. In May 1940 Neville Chamberlain resigned and Churchill became Prime Minister and led the coalition government for the rest of the war. Actively involved in the day-to-day running of the war he also played a major role in the ‘grand alliance’ between himself, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin formulating high level Allied strategies. He lost the 1945 General Election but returned to become Prime Minister again 1951-1955.
Andrée De Jongh was a Belgian woman who joined the Resistance during the war and created the 1200 mile (1900 kms) Cométe escape line. This took mainly Allied aircrew shot down in Belgium and Northern France southward through France, across the Pyrenees into Spain and to Gibraltar. She operated under the code name Dédée and persuaded British Military Intelligence (MI9) to support the escape line. The Cométe Line had over 2000 volunteers and helped more then 800 evaders. It was infiltrated on several occasions with members captured and many executed. Andrée De Jongh herself escorted 118 people, including 80 aircrew, across the Pyrenees until, on her 33rd trip, she was betrayed and captured in January 1943. She was interrogated multiple times and subsequently imprisoned in Ravensbrück Camp until being liberated in 1945. Post-war she received a number of awards including the George Medal (UK), the Medal of Freedom (USA), Legion of Honour (France) and the Croix De Guerre (Belgium).
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, officially known as Elizabeth II. She was the longest reigning monarch in British history. Elizabeth was the elder daughter of Prince Albert and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Her uncle acceded to the throne as Edward VIII but abdicated in 1936 resulting in her father becoming King George VI and herself becoming heir to the throne. During World War Two she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service; the first female member of the Royal Family to join the Armed Forces as a full-time member. She acceded to the throne on her father’s death in 1952, with her coronation held in 1953.
Albert Frederick Arthur George Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1895-1952) became King George VI of the United Kingdom whose reign (1936-1952) encompassed World War Two. He was the second son of King George V and during World War One he saw Naval action at the Battle of Jutland. In 1919 he joined the Royal Air Force. He acceded to the throne in 1936 when his elder brother, Edward VIII, abdicated. During World War Two the King stayed in Buckingham Palace despite the bombing of London. He fully supported Winston Churchill and made morale building overseas visits to troops, including to France just 10 days into the Normandy Campaign (6 June – 21 August 1944). Recognising that modern warfare impacted the whole population he instigated the George Cross and George Medal for acts of bravery “not in the face of the enemy”. Post-war he saw the transition from the British Empire to the Commonwealth of Nations, formed in 1949.
Wing Commander Guy Penrose Gibson VC, DSO and bar, DFC and bar (1918-1944) was a pilot who was on his 74th bombing operation when he was killed. Guy Gibson joined the Royal Air Force in 1936 and by September 1939 was with 83 Squadron in Bomber Command flying the Hampden. In late 1940 he was posted to 29 Squadron in Fighter Command flying Beaufighter night-fighters from RAF Digby; he undertook about 90 operational sorties in this role. He returned to Bomber Command in April 1942 in charge of 106 Squadron initially flying Manchesters but soon converting to Lancasters. In March 1943 he formed 617 Squadron at RAF Scampton. Guided by Barnes Wallis he developed the method for attack using the bouncing bomb designed to carry out the Eder, Möhne and Sorpe operation (16/17 May 1943), following which Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross. In September 1944 he was the master bomber for an operation but was killed when his Mosquito crashed in the Netherlands.
Hermann Goering (1893-1946), as Reichsmarshall, was second only to Adolf Hitler and was Head of the Luftwaffe during World War Two. During World War One Goering was a decorated fighter pilot. In 1923 he joined the Nazi Party and in 1932 became President of the Reichstag. With Hitler in power from 1933 Goering formed the Gestapo and established concentration camps for political opponents. In 1935 Goering became Head of the Luftwaffe and in 1937 he additionally became minister for economic affairs. His rise continued and in 1939 was named as Hitler’s successor and in 1940 he was given the rank of Reichsmarshall. The Luftwaffe was instrumental in the early German successes of World War Two. At the Nuremburg War Trials in 1946 he was found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to be hung. However he committed suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule the night before his scheduled execution.
Harris, Arthur Travers (1892-1984)
Used for: Bomber Harris, Butcher Harris
Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Arthur Travers Harris, 1st Baronet (1892-1984) was Commander-in-Chief of Bomber Command from 1942 to 1945 and implemented the policy of area bombing. Harris joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1915 and by September 1939 was Air Officer Commanding 5 Group. In February 1942 he was appointed to head Bomber Command. Although he didn’t create the policy Harris was a firm advocate of the area bombing campaign resulting in attacks such as those on Cologne (30-31 May 1942), Hamburg (24-31 July 1943) and Dresden (13-15 February 1945). Despite his initial resistance Harris established the Pathfinders and also the tactical use of his forces for the Normandy Campaign (6 June – 21 August 1944). Subsequently however there were tensions between himself and the Chief of the Air Staff Charles Portal over attacking oil and transport targets in the latter stages of the war.#
Hitler, Adolf (1889-1945)
Used for: Führer
Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) was the German dictator, leader of the Nazi Party and responsible for starting World War Two. Although of Austrian birth he served in the German Army during World War One. In 1919 he joined the National Socialist Party, better known as the Nazi Party, and in 1921 became its chairman. Whilst not winning the 1932 election the Nazi Party vote was strong enough for Hitler to be appointed Chancellor of Germany. Subsequently he established himself as Führer (leader) and dictator, suppressing opposition and passing anti-Semitic laws resulting eventually in the Holocaust. The German invasion of Poland in 1939 triggered World War Two and Hitler took personal control of many military decisions. After a series of initial successes the Germans were eventually pushed back by the Allies on both the Eastern and Western Fronts. In April 1945 Hitler committed suicide before the final Nazi surrender in May 1945.
Sir Archibald Hector McIndoe CBE FRCS (1900-1960) was a New Zealand plastic surgeon who pioneered treatment of severely burned Allied aircrew injured in action during the Second World War. He developed new techniques for treating badly burned (the skin graft and saline solutions), while also stressing the importance of rehabilitation and social reintegration. His patients established in 1941 the Guinea Pig Club as mutual support network, the name chosen to suggest the experimental nature of McIndoe’s treatments. He was later created Commander of the British Empire (CBE), Commandeur de la Légion d'honneur, and eventually knighted in 1947.
Mussolini, Benito (1883-1945)
Used for: Duce
Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) was the Fascist dictator of Italy 1925-1945. In 1919 Mussolini formed a fascist political party including armed groups, known as the Black Shirts. In October 1922 they marched on Rome and the King dissolved Parliament and invited Mussolini to become Prime Minister. By 1925 Mussolini had dismantled the democratic institutions and made himself dictator. Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in 1935 and, like Adolf Hitler, supported Franco in the 1936 Spanish Civil War. He formed a pact with Nazi Germany in 1939, introduced anti-Semitic laws and declared war on Britain and France in June 1940. Italian defeats in Africa and the Balkans were followed in 1943 by Mussolini’s arrest and Italy agreed peace terms with the Allies. However Germany then occupied northern Italy and installed Mussolini as leader. As the Allies moved north Mussolini tried to escape but was captured and shot by Italian partisans in April 1945.
Charles Frederick Algernon Portal, 1st Viscount Portal of Hungerford (1893-1971), nicknamed ‘Peter’, was Chief of the Air Staff for most of World War Two during which he advocated the strategic bombing campaign as a key element in defeating Nazi Germany. During World War One Portal saw action in the Royal Flying Corps. In April 1940 he became Air Officer Commanding Bomber Command and in October 1940 became Chief of the Air Staff, a role he held until the end of the war. During his tenure he supported the strategic bombing campaign, the creation of the Pathfinders as well as the tactical use of British and American bombing forces for the Normandy Campaign (6 June – 21 August 1944). He subsequently backed attacking oil and transport targets in the final stages of the war which resulted in tensions between him and Arthur Harris, the Air Officer Commanding Bomber Command.
Roosevelt, Franklin Delano (1882-1945)
Used for: FDR
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) was President of the United States 1932-1945 for an unprecedented four terms. He led America through the period of recovery from the Great Depression and much of World War Two. He commenced his political career in 1910 and, although being stricken by polio in 1921, he became Governor of New York in 1928. He was first elected President in 1932, and instigated the ‘New Deal’ which was a series of economic and social reforms to help recover from the 1929 financial crash. During the initial stages of World War Two Roosevelt provided aid and equipment to Britain. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941 America entered the war. Roosevelt took a lead role in the ‘grand alliance’ between himself, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin formulating high level Allied strategies, including the ‘Europe first’ approach. He also advocated the formation of the United Nations.
Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) was the Soviet dictator and head of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union from the mid 1920s to his death. Of Georgian birth Stalin joined the Bolshevik movement in 1903. By 1922 he became secretary general of the central committee of the ruling party. Following Lenin’s death in 1924 Stalin became supreme leader and in 1928 initiated a series of 5-year plans resulting in increased industrialisation and collective agriculture, the latter resulting in mass famines. He also embarked on a series of politically driven mass purges resulting in millions of deaths. Following the German invasion of Russia in 1941 Stalin oversaw the gradual turning of the tide and the eventual defeat of the Nazis. Stalin was part of the ‘grand alliance’ between himself, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt formulating high level Allied strategies. He subsequently initiated the ‘Cold War’ and took Russia into the nuclear age.
Harry Truman (1884-1972) was President of the United States, 1945-1953, who authorised the use of the atomic bomb and was instrumental in the post-war containment of Communism. Harry Truman entered politics in the 1920s and in 1944 became vice-president to Franklin D. Roosevelt. He became President in March 1945 when Roosevelt died and oversaw the final days of World War Two, including authorising the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (6 August 1945) and the bombing of Nagasaki (9 August 1945). Post-war he adopted the ‘Truman Doctrine’ to oppose the expansion of Communism. He supported the creation of the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Truman was also instrumental in the 1948-1949 Berlin airlift to overcome the Russian blockade and the ‘Marshal Plan’ of financial aid to re-build Western Europe. In 1950 he sent troops to South Korea to resist the invasion from communist North Korea and China
Sir Barnes Neville Wallis (1887-1979) was a British aviation engineer who contributed significantly to aircraft construction methods and World War Two bomb design. Wallis joined Vickers in 1913 and in 1930 designed the R.100 airship. He invented the geodetic system, a light but strong method of construction used in the Wellesley and Wellington bombers. Wallis designed the bouncing bomb used by Guy Gibson and 617 Squadron to carry out the Eder, Möhne and Sorpe operation (16/17 May 1943). Subsequently Wallis designed the 12,000lb (5440 kgs) Tallboy and 22,000lb (9980 kgs) Grand Slam bombs that could only be carried by the Lancaster. These bombs were designed to penetrate the ground and explode at depth creating an earthquake effect to undermine the target. They could also penetrate thick concrete and were used to attack heavily fortified targets such as the Tirpitz, submarine pens, viaducts and V-weapon sites. Post-war Wallis was involved with supersonic and swing-wing developments.