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.
Another article contrasting the Germans and Japanese can be read here...
Although the press questioned U.S. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson (1867 - 1950) as to why the Selective Service Department had been ordered to call-up an additional 100,000 men when it was agreed that the U.S. military was already "over strengthened" with the full participation of 7,700,000 personnel currently under arms, Stimson made it clear in this notice from the Far East Edition of YANK, that he had his reasons - and this article lists a number of them.
Click here to read about a W.W. II draft board.
To read an article about American draft dodgers of W.W. II, click here.
The World War II pay raise that was granted to U.S. Army combat infantrymen in the summer of 1944 did not extend to the front-line medic for reasons involving the Geneva Convention Rules of War. This triggered a number of infantrymen to write kind words regarding the medics while at the same time condemning the Geneva restrictions:
"...I've seen the medics in action and I take my hat off to them. Most of them have more guts then us guys with the rifles...I've seen them dash into cross-fire that would cut a man to ribbons to help a guy who was in bad shape. I say give them all the credit they deserve."
"So they've given up."
"They're finally done in, and the rat is dead in an alley back of the the Wilhelmstrasse."
"Take a Bow, GI - take a bow, little guy."
"Far-flung ordinary men, unspectacular but free, rousing out of their habits and their homes - got up early one morning, flexed their muscles, learned the manual of arms (as amateurs) and set out across perilous oceans to whop the bejeepers out of the professionals."
"And they did."