Knee-Deep In Ticker Tape

Associated Press

So went the LIFE caption, as news of the Japanese surrender spread across New York on August 14, 1945.

Finally an end to the war.

I Just Want To Bang On The Drum All Day

Check out these squirts, circa WWII, conducting a “lively aluminum salvage campaign” out of pots from their neighbors on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. A grumpy bearded gramps doesn’t seem nearly as thrilled about the pursuit as the youth, but I think that’s just the face old folks make.

When You’re SERIOUS About Christmas Cards

LIFE: Our Finest Hour

Actually, this woman was a draft service worker during WWII. Men 18-65 and were required to register and keep the card on them at all times. Men age 18-45 were subject to military service. From 1940 until 1947 – when the wartime selective service act expired – over 10,000,000 men were inducted.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA.

This cartoon in the Saturday Evening Post depicted a draft board scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Mischa Richter; February 19, 1944

A Very Good Find In A Very Tough Year

Life: Our Finest Hour

During WWII, the not-yet-vanquished German army occupied the north of France, including the port of Cherbourg, which they heavily fortified against seaborne assault. As the only deep water port in the region, it was particularly desirable, so American troops encircled the city in June of 1944 in the Battle of Cherbourg, and handed the Germans their asses five days later, when they surrendered. The fighting left the city in a compromised state. However, in only a month, cargo ships known as Liberty Ships began to arrive, and it became the busiest port in the entire world, with twice the traffic of New York, until the war ended. It has since merged with an adjacent city to become Cherbourg-Octeville.* In this image, we see American soldiers in Cherbourg who appear to have stumbled upon some German wine stores. I’ll drink to that.









*per wikipedia


Christmas Day 1943 On Guadalcanal

Life: Our Finest Hour

Christmas Day didn’t feel very wintry to these WWII soldiers in the South Pacific. Santa braved the 90 degrees to dispense Red Cross gifts to Army and Marine hospitals and bring some holiday cheer to those missing their families back home.

Foamy Fascists

by Bernard F Rogers, Jr for Nat Geo

It’s 1936, and these members of the Young Fascists are killing time and facial hair while hanging at comrade camp in Rome. At the time, Mussolini was head of the police state of Italy as its Fascist leader. Fascism is generally a one-party, anti-democratic, often racist dictatorship, so you can imagine the experiences these lads had living under such a regime. Note the painted Fascist badge on the truck above, derived from ancient Rome’s fasces, or symbol of authority, a bundle of rods with a protruding axe blade. Mussolini was evidently the axe.

Mussolini made his intentions clear from the start, before he became Il Duce.

When dealing with such a race as Slavic—inferior and barbarian—we must not pursue the carrot, but the stick policy … We should not be afraid of new victims … The Italian border should run across the Brenner Pass, Monte Nevoso and the Dinaric Alps … I would say we can easily sacrifice 500,000 barbaric Slavs for 50,000 Italians …

–Benito Mussolini, speech held in Pula, 20 September 1920

He intended to brainwash the minds of the young men below. Here, they are doing a drill at a camp, to which they came from all over Italy, for a review by Mussolini himself, as part of the organization’s sixth anniversary in October of 1936.
Mussolini equated high birthrates in Africa and Asia as a threat to the “white race,” which led him to ask, “Are the blacks and yellows at the door?” to be followed up with “Yes, they are!”
Below, Romans swarm the Piazza Venezia, so that Premier Mussolini can review the Fascist University Groups, wearing bright neckerchiefs, from his headquarters. The review commemorated the 14th anniversary of the Fascist March on Rome, when Il Duce came to power.

Opera Nazionale Balilla (ONB) was an Italian Fascist youth organization functioning between 1926 and 1937, which took its name from Balilla, the nickname of Giovan Battista Perasso, a Genoese boy who, according to local legend, started the revolt of 1746 against the Habsburg forces that occupied the city in the War of the Austrian Succession by throwing a stone at an Austrian soldier.

These Balillas, aka “boy blackshirts” emulate the posture of Il Duce, with squared shoulders, chins high, quickstepping with toy rifles and blanket rolls during a review.


Even the very young were indoctrinated.


Italian boys donned uniforms at six and received real weapons in their 18th year on the anniversary of Rome’s birth, April 21. These youngsters are doing a drill with gas masks and miniature rifles.

photo by Acme

Fortunately, Italian partisans executed Mussolini two days before Hitler committed suicide, dumped his corpse in the Piazzale Loreto, let folks kick and spit on him, then hung him upside-down from the roof of an Esso gas station. Civilians were then allowed to stone him. Woot.

US National Archives

US Nat’l Archives