UNC Charlotte Special Collections J. Murrey Atkins Library - Special Collections & University Archives

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Berlin Airlift Collection

Identifier: MS0412

Scope and Contents

This collection contains a photographic scrapbook, loose papers and a CD entitled, “Wir Das Heerestfliegerregiment 16” concerning the Berlin Airlift. These were collected by William Fotheringham of the 40th Troop Carrier Squadron, US Air Force. There is also a t-shirt signed by some of the airmen who participated in the airlift and a file of material concerning the traveling exhibit hosted by Atkins Library at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2009. A book by the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony is part of the collection but is shelved in Rare.


  • 1948 - 2000
  • 1948 - 1949


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Historical Note

William Tait Fotheringham served in the 40th Troop Carrier Squadron from 1948 to 1949 in Germany during the Berlin Airlift. He was a member of the 11th Tac Recon when it was formed at March Field in 1947, aircraft mechanic assigned to A-26 ser.no. 44-35657. His crew chief was Tsgt Mack E. Drake, Sqdn. Commander at that time was Lt/Col Royal B. Allison. He and a number of men were shipped out to the Berlin Airlift in Oct. of 1948. During the time he was with the airlift project, he kept a photographic scrapbook and other materials concerning his military service.

The Berlin Airlift, officially known as the Berlin Blockade, was one of the tensest moments of the Cold War, between the Western democracies and the Soviet bloc. At the close of World War II, the Allies divided Germany into four “zones of occupation,” each administered by one of the victors: Britain, France, the United States and the Soviet Union. The peace settlement also decreed that the city of Berlin would also be divided into four different zones of occupation, just like Germany itself, even though Berlin was located far into the Soviet-controlled eastern zone. Soon after the peace settlement that determined this arrangement, thousands of Germans in the Soviet zone fled the now-communist zone of eastern Germany into Berlin, and from there, fled to the free, democratic zone of western Germany. In order to halt this exodus, the Soviets began the construction of a massive and lengthy wall around West Berlin—a wall that the Soviets steadily bolstered and re-enforced over the years. Then, on June 24, 1948, in an attempt to pressure the British, French and American occupiers to abandon western Berlin, the Soviets closed roads and railroads leading from the western German sector to western Berlin.

At first, it seemed that Berliners would soon starve. Not only was famine a threat, but also the Berliners in the western sector needed fuel and medicine. Rather than bow to Soviet pressure to abandon the western sector of Berlin to Soviet communism, President Truman quickly decided to initiate an airlift of food, fuel and medicine to the citizens of that isolated sector. At first it appeared that the proposed undertaking was too massive to succeed, that there were too many people in western Berlin and not enough aircraft to accomplish the mission. Nevertheless, with careful planning and prudent use of resources, the western allies succeeded in provisioning the people of western Berlin until it became apparent that the Soviet blockade had failed. The Soviets lifted the blockade on May 12, 1949.


1.25 Linear Feet




Scrapbook, interactive CD and other memorabilia concerning the Berlin Airlift.


The collection is arranged into the following two series: William Fotheringham materials and 60th Anniversary materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Most items acquired from William Fotheringham, in July 2009. T-shirt received through The German Community of the Charlotte Region, presented at the 60th anniversary celebration in July 2009. Books purchased or received in support of the celebration and collection.

Related Materials

Candy bomber: the story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot" / Michael O. Tunnell (LU DD881 .T845 2010, Atkins Library General Collection) tells the story of the pilots and airmen who dared to add some joy to the German children when they dropped supplies behind the blockade lines.

Daring young men: the heroism and triumph of the Berlin Airlift, June 1948-May 1949 / Richard Reeves (DD881 .R435 2010, Atkins Library General Collection) details the harrowing journey of two men who risked their lives to defy the Soviet blockade intended to drive Western powers out of Berlin.

To save a city : the Berlin Airlift, 1948-1949 / Roger G Miller and the Air Force History and Museums Program (D 301.82/7:B 45, Atkins Library Documents) National government publication.

Separated Materials

Candy Bombers: the untold story of the Berlin Airlift and America's finest hour / Andrei Cherny - http://uncc.worldcat.org/oclc/190761280

Processing Information

Processed by Ursula J Guidry, under the direction of Robert A. McInnes. Additional materials added and processed in 2015 J. Henry.
Berlin Airlift Collection
Ursula J Guidry
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte 28223 United Stated