This online collaborative exhibition aims to highlight the role of engineers and engineering during the Second World War through the lens of the archive collections held by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).
It cannot be an appraisal of all engineering feats or engineers from the Second World War, but instead highlights those stories, achievements and roles played by engineers who were members of one or more of the three Institutions and whose material now exists within their archives.
Lasting almost six years and involving over 100 million people across 30 different countries the Second World War not only encompassed almost the entire globe but also became (and remains) the deadliest conflict in history resulting in an estimate of 70 million fatalities.
The Second World War marked a shift in the nature of warfare to one that relied heavily on mechanised weaponry, advancements in technology and huge amounts of industry. In Britain, the Blitz and rationing brought the impact of War to domestic shores.
Attaining military and technological advantage relied greatly on all branches of engineering. Engineers helped to keep vital troop supply lines moving, protect civilians through the creation of air shelters and use their expertise to make military advances applicable to post-war civilian life.
Our timeline outlines some of the major events of the conflict.
Click on the themes below to learn more about the different roles engineering played during the Second World War.
Keeping ahead with advances in engineering technology was vital for the war effort. From developing an aircraft engine to assisting with the invasion of Normandy discover some of the projects engineers contributed to throughout the War.
The War had a direct impact on civilian life. Explore how engineering contributed to the design of air raid shelters and discussions about electricity rationing. Gain insight into the importance of continuing education both for engineers at home and those imprisoned as Prisoners of War.
The War provided learning opportunities for engineers to consider improvements to existing standard and infrastructure. Learn about projects included town and city planning, improvements to building standards and the use of electricity in the home.