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.
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.
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
The contested forts of Verdun (Battle of Verdun, 1916), Fort Douamont, Fort Souville and Fort Vaux, were little more than storage sheds to the American army of World War Two; and during the four years of German occupation, the forts played a similar roll for the German army as well. This is a neat article that briefly touches on the importance of these structures during the previous war and what kind of flotsam and jetsam the GIs were able to find as they wandered about the forts (like a W.W. I skeleton). Of particular interest was a wall that was covered with the names of various combatants from all sides and from both wars:
"The American names are big and black and seem to blot out the others. One of them says:
"Austin White, Chicago, Ill., 1918 and 1944.
This is the last time I want to write my name here".
Click here to read more magazine articles about the African-American efforts during the First World War.
By posting this notice that appeared in a 1944 issue of YANK, we had hoped to play a useful roll by bringing to an end some of the bar room arguments and late-night dorm bickerings that came about as a result of the unlikely story line that was presented in the movie, Saving Private Ryan (Paramount Pictures, 1998).
When the Yank staff writers asked the G.I.s to "name the greater menace to our country and our values" -most of the servicemen polled seemed to agree that the real enemies were from Japan; while Germany, it was believed by most, simply had to be brought back into the fold.