June 1944 was the month of D-Day, where 160,000 Allied troops crossed the English Channel to the beaches of Normandy. These soldiers needed reading material when they weren’t dodging German sniper rounds, and one such G.I. read was Hit! Let’s pretend we’re in our barracks and take a look, page by page…
Did our servicemen really need an instruction manual on how to write love letters? Evidently, yes. Among the tips: “How to discourage the ‘too romantic friend'” and “How to make every day events sound interesting”… because sinking German submarines can sound so hum-drum on paper.
After your parachute battalion has successfully defended the bridge and survived the heavy mortar barrage from the Germans, it’s time to learn how to draw.
Alexis Smith was a successful actress in the 1940s and 1950s, working alongside the likes of Errol Flynn, Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart.
The first article: “Miss Victory Parties Servicemen on Ranch”
Servicemen furloughing in Hollywood are invited by model Pat Starling (“Miss Victory”) for a good time down on the ranch. What follows are “candid photos” of their “old fashioned Western party”.
Pat Starling is the brunette (I’m not sure who the blonde “girlfriend” is). She appeared in about 15 films during the 1940s, namely as the heroine in westerns. She earned the title “Miss Victory” in July, 1942 at the age of 18 in a beauty contest at the Victory House in Pershing Square, Los Angeles. Prizes included a role in a movie.
Pat Starling became good friends with Yvonne DeCarlo, who also did her share of westerns… but you likely know her as Lily Munster.
Pat had to get court approval to get a studio contract because she was only 18. You can read the newspaper article about her court decision here (interestingly, right amid epic headlines regarding WWII).
She would have been 18 years old during this photo shoot. You can read the newspaper article about her big break here.
These servicemen, on leave from the bloody battlegrounds of Europe and the Pacific, are probably only interested in one thing at this point and time…. and it ain’t riding a donkey.
Time for the funny pages…
I don’t find this particularly funny, actually… a bit sad, really.
Holy shit! That is a disturbing cartoon.
Okay, I have to admit. That one is kind of funny.
Okay, I need some help with this one, folks. Is he going to light his ass on fire? Is that the joke? Help.
Next article: “Backstage Visits Give Boys Thrill”
This is another “candid camera” article where servicemen are given backstage passes to the Broadway productions: “Oklahoma” and “Stars on Ice”.
“Stars on Ice” opened on Broadway on July 2nd, 1942 and ran until April 16, 1944 (827 performances)
This is an amazing photograph. The marine and the navy seaman get the treatment backstage at “Stars on Ice”.
“Lovely Clair Wilkins and Ragna Ray are giving Private Ted Frey something to remember them by. Isn’t that worth fighting for?”
Next: “Pin Up of the Month”
Pat Clark hit it big early, wearing mink coats and enjoying the fruits of being a starlet on the rise during the 1940s. She dated movie producers, oil men, and even the richest man in Egypt before finally fading into oblivion, like so many beautiful Hollywood starlets of her day. Pat’s days on the silver screen were over by the 1950s, but she finally settled on an ultra-rich Wall Street broker. She purportedly died young (in the 1950s) from an overdose on pills.
Next: “Soldiers Discover How Those Lovely Pin-Ups Are Made”
Another “candid camera” article – this one follows servicemen from the Santa Ana Air Base as they get a peek behind-the-scenes at Dorothy Preble Model Agency.
I’m not sure what strange exercise routine these ladies are performing, but this G.I. is soaking it all in while it lasts.
These poor guys are going to catch hell for this once this article is published.
I don’t know, fellas. I think a bit more leg is needed in order to make this “barracks worthy”.
Next: “Invitation to a Bowl!”
The Broadway chorus girls of “Stars and Garter” invite some Coast Guard servicemen for a round of bowling at the Roxy Bowling Center. Of course, “candid” shots of the match were taken.
I love how everyone seems to be having a rollicking good time… except for the couple on the right. She smokes a cigarette with a dour look on her face, and the guy looks unhappy with this situation. I wonder what the backstory is here.
Chorine forgot to let go of the ball? Not the brightest chorus girl in the lineup to be sure.
This “trick shot” has just provided these men with enough mental fantasy material to last them the rest of their tour.
More funny pages:
Just wow. This sort of humor would not fly today. Can you imagine if this appeared in a current armed services magazine?
Next, a section called “Morale Notes” which consists of soldiers getting lucky:
June Lang was a pretty Hollywood star, but she married a Chicago mobster, and it forever tarnished her reputation.
Susanna Foster’s story is a rather sad one. She was groomed at a young age by MGM along with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, but never found their level of success. Her primary claim to fame is starring with Claude Rains in The Phantom of the Opera – but it was short lived. Her career dried up, and she ended up selling her furs and trying to make it as a single mother. Sadly, she was found in the early 1980s living in her car.
And on that bleak and depressing note, we’ll leave you with the last few pages of adverts.
Would you like to support Flashbak?
Please consider making a donation to our site. We don't want to rely on ads to bring you the best of visual culture. You can also support us by signing up to our Mailing List. And you can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For great art and culture delivered to your door, visit our shop.