“THIS IS THE ARMY!” part one (1)

“This Is The Army”

The most successful and popular patriotic show of World War II and one of the most unique productions in the history of entertainment was Irving Berlin’s This Is the Army, which originally began as a Broadway musical. General George C. Marshall gave Berlin permission to stage a morale-boosting revue early in 1942 to raise money for the military.

Rehearsals were held at Camp Upton, New York, beginning in the spring of 1942 in an old Civilian Conservation Corps barracks called T-11. At one end was a large recreation room with a stone fireplace, where Berlin placed his special piano.  It was next to a latrine, which had a hot water tank. Berlin liked to lean against the tank to warm his back.

Rehearsal

Berlin completed most of the score by the end of April. The show was then auditioned on Governor’s Island in New York Harbor for General Irving J. Phillipson.  Immediately thereafter, Berlin received the approval he was waiting for.

The musical, which was directed by 24-year-old Ezra Stone (radio’s Henry Aldrich), opened on Broadway with a cast of 300 uniformed soldiers on July 4, 1942, to rave reviews. The most popular songs from the revue were “This Is the Army Mr. Jones” and “I Left My Heart at the Stage Door Canteen.” Other notable numbers include “I’m Getting Tired So I Can Sleep,” “How About a Cheer for the Navy,” “American Eagles,” and “With My Head in the Clouds for the Air Corps.”.

Irving Berlin

The show was so successful that the initial four-week engagement was extended to 12 weeks followed by a national tour, and then with a greatly reduced cast to tours of the European, Far East, and Pacific Theaters. Berlin ingeniously inserted new songs into the show depending on the audience and location. In England, he added “My British Buddy,” and in the Pacific he included “Heaven Watch the Philippines.”

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt saw the show several times during its first weeks at the Broadway Theatre and became a devotee. She desperately wanted her husband to see it, but he was unable to travel to New York City. A special matinee command performance was arranged for October 8, 1942, at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C., for the president.  He thoroughly enjoyed the performance and invited the complete cast and crew to the White House the following day. The president shook hands with the entire company, over 350 soldiers, which kept him up until 1:30 the following morning.

This Is the Army was an exposition of patriotism as well as pure and simple entertainment, and the musical theater was an exceptional vehicle for boosting wartime morale. The show was a rousing, captivating musical tribute to Americans in uniform, including those in the Navy and Air Corps.

Irving Berlin with his cast

The story of Army life was told simply in song and dance, with a bit of added comedy. No battle scenes, no deaths, and no destruction were introduced. Girls, sweethearts, and mothers were the objects of songs. Kathleen E.R. Smith, in her book, God Bless America—Tin Pan Alley Goes to War, contends that the impression of Army life presented was more like a summer camp vacation instead of the serious matter of preparing for war.

By the time the national tour of This Is the Army concluded on February 13, 1943, in San Francisco, about $2 million had been raised for the Army Emergency Relief Fund for deserving wives, children, and parents of servicemen and women.

Irving Berlin & the Royals

The international touring company of This Is the Army first went to England in November 1943, and Irving Berlin met King George VI and Queen Elizabeth after a London performance. Berlin also received an invitation to lunch with Prime Minister Winston Churchill at his 10 Downing Street residence in error.  The invitation was intended for Isaiah Berlin, a well-known English philosopher and political thinker who was assigned to the British embassy in Washington at that time. Churchill did not realize the error until well after the meeting, when he was informed that his lunch guest that day was the famous American songwriter.

To be continued……

Click on images to enlarge them.

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Personal Shout Out – 

For the coming of a new decade – may I wish each and every reader who passes by here a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!

Happy New Year, From Over “The Hump”

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jackey D. Blosser – Grafton, WV; US Army, Korea, Cpl., D Co./1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin)

Jack B. Farris Jr. – Charlotte, SC; US Army, Vietnam, Grenada, Pentagon, Lt. General

Michael J. Goble – Westwood, NJ; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt. 1st Class, 1/7th Special Forces Group, KIA

Larry Heinemann – Bryan, TX; US Army, Vietnam / author-historian

George M. Johnson – Seaford, DE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 2nd Lt., 38 BS/30 Bomb Group, B-24J co-pilot, KIA (Tarawa)

George Larsen – San Francisco, CA; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO, Chief Petty Officer

John V. Phillips – Mineral Springs, MO; US Army, WWII, PTO, Sgt., HQ Co./31st Infantry Division, POW, KIA (Cabanatuan)

Richard Robertson – Gonzaleles, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Lowell S. Twedt – USA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-38J pilot,71 FS/1 st Flight Group, KIA

William Winchester – Mount Hope, AL; US Army, Korea, 1/24/25th Infantry Division, KIA (Camp # 5)

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on December 30, 2019, in Home Front, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 131 Comments.

  1. Hi GP, maybe this is not the fórum so you can always delete the comment. I just put me on YouTube and the YouTube people seems they are researching me…..so they pop off this video as videos I like, guess what? They are right! Maybe you like it, if not delete the comment, hope you have a laugh

    Liked by 1 person

    • They acted as though strangers voted Trump in – more than half the country knew that Hillary was nuts and just as corrupt as Obama was trying to give this country away. They were so sure she’d win that they went into shock and now are acting out their temper tantrums in Congress because they didn’t get their way. All I can say is – Grow Up Dems, Trump is still working to correct the damage Obama and past history has done!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I couldn´t said it better. Yet it is funny the Dems cry and cry and what? They lost legitimely, epeach?… going nowhere, and don´t underestimate Trump, talk about hatters ( the word the left love to use) and in some sense the Dems strategy has been turned upside inside and brightside by Trump. They know they can´t win, so just go to war with the man?….And the country which is more important

        Liked by 3 people

  2. What a wonderful story. I’ve never heard of this musical, and didn’t know any of the songs. Sometimes, a little entertainment is just what’s needed, and this certainly provided that — along with some support for the families. The Churchill story was flat funny. I suspect he might have come out on the better end of that deal. The detail about Berlin leaning up against the hot water tank was great.

    I do remember Henry Aldrich. If you’re inclined toward a little fun, you can here some episodes of The Aldrich Family here (as well as some other oldies but goodies.)

    Best wishes for the New Year — I’m eager to read part II of this post, and look forward your offerings all through the next year!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on John's Notes and commented:
    I thought that this story by GP Cox was worth reblogging. It gives a different look at the war years.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi GP. Knew the song but never knew anything about the show! Funny anecdote about Winston C! Best regards

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I giggled at the Churchill error 😊
    A Very Happy New Year to You too! ✨

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on e-Quips and commented:
    Some information that you probably never knew about Irving Berlin’s groundbreaking and highly entertaining “This Is The Army” Conclusion from GPS Cox at Pacfic Paratrooper

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for another year of interesting posts. All the best for 2020.

    Like

  8. Great post! I truly enjoyed reading this and I find the information very important knowledge. I admire the people of those years because they were able to unite, support and ensure the victory in WWII. Their effort is their sacrifice and there were many sacrifices to be made in those days. I thank you, George, for bringing us such great posts! Wishing you a healthy, happy and blessed 2020!
    All the best,
    FBC

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Enjoy your blog. Keep the stories alive! 🎄💖

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Happy New Year 2020!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow! This is great! Love Irving Berlin’s music and love this story. Thanks for sharing. Interesting how fate works — the invitation to dine with the Royals being sent to him by mistake! Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Happy New Year… the very best… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you once again for the education in 2019, GP. Looking forward to more in 2020!

    I remember Beetle Bailey! I loved the cartoons!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I fully agree GP! Wish you a happy and blessed New Year 2020! May we have freedom as possible. Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Reblogged this on Long Island Past and Present and commented:
    Something for Long Islanders to remember the good old days!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. That is quite a story. I also like the Berlin confusion.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Great read and I love Beetle Bailey! Happy 2020🍾🥂🍾❤

    Like

  18. I got a good laugh out of Bettle Bailey

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I’d heard of the show but not the full behind-the-scenes details. Irving Berlin is a national treasure, for sure. Thanks for the Beetle Bailey cartoons; my dad was a big fan.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. How interesting and wonderful!
    I’d love to see this on YouTube!

    I’m thinking a LOT of our service men and women this holiday season….especially those far from home and loved ones.
    I know I’ve shared this before, but I wanted to share it again…

    (((HUGS)))
    PS…I love Beetle Bailey! Grew up with him! Learned some stuff from him! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I knew someone much like Beetle Bailey’s Sergeant. But I hope he won’t stop you having a great 2020.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I got a kick out of Winston Churchill not knowing it was Irving berlin. Can you imagine Winston trying to talk diplomacy while Irving was trying to figure out what the heck he was talking about? Maybe there was enough brandy to keep the whole thing moving along.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Love those Beetle Bailey comic strips!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I saw a picture of a Xmas postcard to Smitty from a Rhodora Bella from Ymus (Imus), Cavite. I am from that town. I also established an organization called Bataan Legacy Historical Society (www.bataanlegacy.org) based in Berkeley, CA. Our biggest project is the inclusion of WWII in the Philippines in the Grade 11 U.S. history in California. It was approved by the CA State Board of Education (after a 2-year process) on July 14, 2016. I am also running a WWII in the Philippines Heritage Tour from Feb. 7 to 16, 2020 and you can download the brochure from our website.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you very much. I have always wondered about that card Smitty got, I wondered if they remembered him later in life. I will visit your site. Thank you for making contact.

      Like

  25. You know GP, I have some vague recollection of this!? (Though I wasn’t even born yet in ’42). And I recall some of the music. I do remember it was rousing and uplifting, but just where I was exposed to it I don’t know? It was definitely a successful production that reached a lot of people.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Weird that just yesterday Matt asked me if I have heard of Irving Berlin. I told him yes and I blogged months ago about Camp Upton and “Yip Yip Yaphank” which was the original play that became “This is the Army”. Matt talked about old things lately, can’t remember recent events. But that’s OK. Love Beetle Bailey!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. A great tidbit about the Churchill meeting with the wrong Berlin !

    Liked by 2 people

  28. I do think the error was rather amusing. My biological father (he was 62 when I was born) was a friend of Mr Churchill. My mother knew this musical, but I did not. I looked it up on Youtube.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. I’ve got to pull up an old YouTube and watch this. Wish there was a show today that would raise the morale of our nation.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Could we please reprise this? Great song–This is the Army Mr. Jones.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I think I’d rather lunch with Irving, personally. What a great impact he had.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. 1st class post as always. Hey, Happy New Year!

    Liked by 2 people

  33. That was a time when everyone supported the troops and the country. It would sure be nice if Hollywood were even half as patriotic today!

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Ha! I bet Churchill loved the error and enjoyed the musocian. What a great post, GP. Looking forward to part 2.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Dang it, GP, now you are the one leaving us hanging on to the next post. I wonder if this Irving Berlin show was the genesis for the Soldiers’ show that is still put on each year by Army MWR. All of the services have MWR (Morale Welfare Recreation) activities whether on base or deployed. They include sports and fitness centers, libraries, arts and crafts, automotive centers, often include theater, tours and travel. Some bases also have golf and bowling alleys. A few have stables.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Excellent post, GP, and I always like it when you include Beetle Bailey cartoons!
    👍😊👍😊

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Excellent post, Pete! I enjoy your historical tidbits. George M Cohan was another artist who comes to mind regarding song writers and military morale with his ‘Over There’ hit during WWI. I hope I have that right. Happy New Year, Pete!

    Liked by 3 people

  38. Irving Berlin, a great American talent and patriot!

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Wow! It’s hard to believe, but I’ve never heard of this show. What an amazing story. If this happened today, they’d just set up an internet site and ask for money.

    Thanks for the New Year’s wishes, GP. We readers who pass through here are very grateful for the opportunity. I have learned so much here – Thank You & Happy New Year! 🎉

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Hey GP just wanted to wish you and your Family a Blessed and Happy New Year in 2020! Stay Dangerous Out There! 👍

    Liked by 2 people

  41. GP, you have such great historical pictures of our military. Please continue to keep us informed!

    Liked by 3 people

  42. I had never heard of this show, GP, so many thanks for introducing that history to me.
    Looking forward to part 2!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

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