On the same side: homosexuals during the Second World War

Stephen Bourne reveals some of the varied experiences of homosexuals who served in the armed forces during the Second World War

British troops marching in celebration of Bastille Day, c1944. (FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

This article first appeared in the February 2012 issue of BBC History Magazine

In 1942 the heroic Battle of Britain pilot Flight Lieutenant Ian Gleed published a memoir called Arise to Conquer. It proved to be a remarkably honest account of his exploits, given the restrictions imposed on him by wartime censorship and propaganda. Twice he bailed out of blazing Spitfires. Twice King George VI congratulated him.

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