The IBCC Digital Archive
The ethos of the IBCC is to promote recognition, remembrance and reconciliation. In keeping with these values, the IBCC Digital Archive focuses on people’s stories of RAF Bomber Command and the bombing war in Europe, 1939-1945, from multiple perspectives: on the ground and in the air, military and civilian, and on both sides of the conflict. Over 10,000 items are available online (April 2020).
We collect two main kinds of material: oral testimonies of veterans and other eyewitnesses, and personal memorabilia. These have rarely been heard or seen outside of the owners’ family circle since the Second World War. It is important to emphasise that these are original sources, published ‘as is’, rather than having been interpreted. This is an archive, not an encyclopaedia.
The Digital Archive has done its utmost to identify veterans and other eyewitnesses whose stories we wished to record for posterity. Yet there is a strong ‘chance’ element in the way it has grown, too. Few eyewitnesses now survive to tell their stories. In addition, we have had to rely on families with personal collections to make contact with us, and to be willing to lend us their collections for digitisation.
So, while we have preserved a vast amount of material, it is not a ‘methodical’ Archive because of this fortuitous, unpredictable element. The result is that, for example, some squadrons are well represented while others are not covered at all; or again, coverage of the experiences of those on the ground is stronger for some parts of Europe than others.
So far, the Archive is focused on the UK and other Allied war experiences, although there is a growing body of material from what was then occupied Europe. We know we need to expand the ‘orchestra of voices’ into under-represented areas. If you have material that you are willing to share with us so that we can share it with others, please find our details at contact us.
Just as we have striven for an inclusive approach in content, so we have built the Archive in an inclusive way. We are grateful to the many volunteers who have donated thousands of hours to the various tasks of preservation and publication. They represent a very valuable ‘crowd’ from which we have sourced knowledge and dedication. All of them have been trained in the tasks they have undertaken.
It is worth noting that this is a digital archive; the owners of original items lend these to us for digitising and they are then returned to them. Once digitised we have no access to the originals.