Rarely seen photos record World War II in brilliant, immersive color

Though color photography was invented decades before World War II, it was still a rather niche process, more complicated and expensive than black-and-white photography.

The scarcity of color film was compounded by the hazards of shipping in wartime and the difficulties of reproduction and printing.

Nevertheless, thousands of color images were created during the global conflict. 3,000 of those were assembled by the British Ministry of Information and eventually ended up in the collections of the Imperial War Museums, which now hold over 11 million photos of conflict from the first World War to the present day.

A new book of never-before-published photos drawn from the IWM's archives, The Second World War in Colour, surveys myriad aspects of the war, from frontline combat among flamethrower tanks and paratroopers to factories and hospitals on the homefront — all in vividly immersive color.