Cambridgeshire

Museum trying to identify World War Two orphans

Donald Image copyright IWM Roger Freeman Collection
Image caption Donald was one of seven children sponsored by US airmen

A museum is appealing for help in identifying seven war orphans "adopted" by US airmen during World War Two but known by their first names only.

The servicemen were based at RAF Duxford in Cambridgeshire and sponsored the children's meals and education.

The images have been uncovered as part of the Imperial War Museum's website-based project to create a digital record of the USAAF's time in Britain.

Over 3,000 people have registered with the site since it was launched.

Donald, Jeanette, June Rose, Margaret, Ann, John and Brian had lost one or both parents during the conflict.

Image copyright IWM Roger Freeman Collection
Image caption 83rd Fighter Squadron entertaining Jeanette at Christmas 1944, a year after they "adopted" her
Image copyright IWM Roger Freeman Collection
Image caption June Rose, the 84th Fighter Squadron's orphan, at its Christmas party

Esther Blaine said: "Their visits are recorded in the Duxford Diary, a book created by and for the service personnel who were based at Duxford at the end of the war, as a memento of their time at the airfield, but they are only referred to by their first names."

Duxford units contributed $400 for each child to pay for school and two meals a day for four years.

Some units also paid for extras such as music lessons.

Image copyright IWM Roger Freeman Collection
Image caption The 84th Squadron also helped Margaret, Ann and John, whose father was killed during an air raid while at work in 1941
Image copyright IWM Roger Freeman Collection
Image caption Brian was sponsored by HQ and HQ Squadron 79th Group

The American Air Museum website was set up using 5,000 photographs from the collection of aviation historian Roger A Freeman.

He collected more than 15,000 prints and slides before his death in 2005.

Museum staff are asking people to contribute photographs and stories of the men and women of the US armed forces who served in Britain during World War Two, as well as of the British people who befriended them, to the site.

Ms Blaine said 8,000 images and documents have been added since its launch.

She is appealing for people who think they know more about the children to post the information on the website.

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