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World War Two

               World War Two Film Clips

34th Division: From Kasserine, All the Way up the Boot (Yank Magazine, 1945)

On January 26, 1942 the long awaited boatload of U.S. troops to Great Britain had finally arrived. The first American G.I. to step off the plank and plant his foot on British soil was Pfc. Milburn H. Henke (1918 - 1998) of the 34th Infantry Division; and as the news spread throughout all of John Bull's island that help had arrived and the first guy had a German surname, the Brits (always big fans of irony) had a good laugh all around.

This article tells the tale of the 1st Battalion, 34th Division which had the distinction of being the longest serving U.S. combat unit in the course of the entire war. It was these men of the Mid-West who took it on the chin that day at Kasserine (America's first W.W. II battle, which was a defeat), avenged their dead at El Guettar, landed at Salerno, Anzio and fought their way up to Bologna. By the time the war ended, there weren't many of the original men left, but what few there were reminisce in this article. Interesting gripes about the problems of American uniforms can be read.


The Psychology of Fear in Combat (Yank Magazine, 1943)

The YANK MAGAZINE editors remarked that this brief column, which was intended to help American G.I.s deal with panic attacks during combat, was written by the National Research Council and appeared in the Infantry Journal of 1943. It is a segment from a longer article titled, "Psychology for the Fighting Man". The psychologists who wrote it presented a number of examples of soldier's panic (mostly from the last war) and illustrate how best the front-line soldier could deal with this stress while the bullets are flying. Happily, they made it sound so easy.

Click here to read about one other effect the stress of combat wrought upon the luckless men of the Forties.

From Amazon: Psychology for the Fighting Man - also from Amazon: Cowardice: A Brief History


A Psychological Study of Valor (Yank Magazine, 1943)

This is yet another excerpt from "Psychology for the Fighting Man" which addresses a grave concern that has been on the mind of all soldiers from time immemorial: "how to be brave and safe?". In simply three paragraphs the psychologists charged with answering this question actually do a pretty feeble job, but they did a fine job summing up the heavy responsibilities that the front-line G.I. had on his mind when great acts of courage were expected of him.

Perhaps one of the most lucid definitions of bravery was uttered by an anonymous soldier from the Second World War who offered that courage is like a bank, with a finite balance; each soldier is allowed to make a small or a large withdrawal from the account and they can do so when ever they wish, but when the account is empty they can't go to the bank any longer.

Click here to read a psychological study of fear in combat.


A Writer in the Ranks (Yank Magazine, 1945)

Dashiel Hammett (1894 - 1961) had a pretty swell resume by the time World War II came along. He had written a string of well-received novels and enjoyed a few well-paying gigs in Hollywood. During the war years it was rare, but not unheard of, for an older man with such accomplishments to enlist in the army - and that is just what he did. The attached article spells out Hammett's period serving on an Alaskan army base, his slow climb from Buck Private to sergeant, his difficulty with officers and the enjoyment of being anonymous.

Accompanying the article is a black and white image of the writer wearing Uncle Sam's olive drab, herringbone twill - rather than the tell-tale tweed he was so often photographed wearing.

Click here to read a 1939 STAGE MAGAZINE profile of Hammett's wife, the playwright Lillian Hellman.


One Austrian's Fight Against Global Fascism (Yank Magazine, 1945)

As far as we know, this 1945 page from YANK was the first article to tell the tale of the incredible Herbert Zipper (1904 - 1997); a story that began in Austria during the Anschluss (1938), carried on through two German concentration camps (Dachau and Buchenwald), continued through to Paris, Manila, and an Imperial Japanese detention center after which the story concludes with Dr. Zipper happily conducting his orchestra in a post-war concert before the victorious American Army.

This story was told in the highly celebrated 1995 documentary film, "Never Give Up: The 20th-Century Odyssey of Herbert Zipper" (American Film Foundation Production). This is a good read; it is a remarkable World War Two story about a rebellious soul with a lot of guts.


The Man Who Designed American World War II Medals & Insignia
(Yank Magazine, 1945)

This YANK reporter, Sergeant Barrett McGurn, was amused by the seemingly aloof Arthur E. Dubois, who at the time was serving as Chief of the Heraldic Section, U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps in Washington, D.C. During his tenure in this office, DuBois had much to do with the design of American military insignia, medals and decorations. He was one of the designers involved in the creation of the Distinguished Flying Cross (1927) as well as the campaign ribbons that support both the Good Conduct Medal (1941) and the American Defense Service Medal (1942). Throughout much of the late twenties and thirties he was involved in some of the design of numerous uniform insignia for both officers and enlisted men, as William K. Emmerson makes clear in his book, Encyclopedia of United States Army Insignia and Uniforms .


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