“THIS IS THE ARMY” conclusion

After touring the English provinces, the company went to North Africa for two weeks and then sailed for Italy. This Is the Army was presented at the San Carlo Opera House in Naples in early April 1944. The group arrived in Rome by truck only six days after the Eternal City fell to the Allies. The musical was presented twice a day at the Royal Opera House in June.

Egypt was the next stop in early August, with This Is the Army being performed at the Cairo Opera House until the end of the month. September and October were spent in Iran. The company then traveled to the vast Pacific Theater, with New Guinea the first stop at the end of December 1944.

The company eventually landed at Guam in early August 1945, days before the first atomic bomb was dropped on Japan. A number of island-hopping stops followed, from Leyte in the Philippines to Okinawa, Iwo Jima, and other Pacific islands. The touring company reached Hawaii on October 10 and gave its final performance in Honolulu on October 22, 1945.  Irving Berlin spoke after the last performance and expressed hope that he would never again have to compose a war song.

“This Is the Army” was made into a Technicolor movie by Warner Brothers in 1943. The film starred future President Ronald Reagan (then an Army lieutenant), George Murphy (later a senator from California), and Joan Leslie. The motion picture was produced by Hal B. Wallis and Jack L. Warner and directed by Michael Curtiz. The entire cast and crew were transported to Hollywood in February 1943 and stayed at a large tent camp near Warner Brothers Studio under military command.

The cast still had drill duty

Irving Berlin’s doleful cinematic performance of “Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning,” recreating the role he previously played in his World War I musical “Yip! Yip! Yaphank”, is legendary. Boxer Joe Louis, Frances Langford, and Ezra Stone also appeared in the movie version, along with Kate Smith, who naturally sang “God Bless America.” Included in the cast were hundreds of soldiers released from duty until the filming was completed.

Although the movie was mainly a musical that merged entertainment and propaganda, a thin plot tells the story of Jerry Jones (George Murphy) and his son, Johnny (Ronald Reagan), during the course of two world wars. “This Is The Army” won an Academy Award in 1943 for best musical score..

Berlin was drafted into the Army in 1917 during World War I and was sent to Camp Upton in Yaphank, Long Island, where he wrote the musical “Yip! Yip! Yaphank”. The review raised $83,000 to build a service center at Camp Upton. However, the service center was never built, and Berlin never found out what became of the money.

“God Bless America,” which was originally written for this show, was thought to be a little too hymn-like for a musical, and remained unknown and unpublished in Berlin’s files. Kate Smith introduced the song during a CBS radio broadcast on Armistice Day, November 11, 1938, and recorded “God Bless America” for RCA Victor on March 21, 1939. Her original version was reissued over the years on many occasions and was also recorded by numerous other artists.

Kate Smith singing, “God Bless America”

Berlin wanted “God Bless America” to be the final number of the Broadway musical. Director Ezra Stone had other ideas and used the song “This Time.” Stone eventually realized how wrong he was!

“This is the Army” was especially significant in that African American performers were included in the cast at Mr. Berlin’s insistence.  “This Is the Army”  thus became the only integrated unit in the military at that time, with white and African American soldiers working and living together.

“This Is the Army” eventually raised more than $10 million for the Army Emergency Relief Fund from the stage productions and movie version until performances ceased at the end of 1945.

By Sheldon Winkler

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – Sad Sack style – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Thomas Arias – NYC, NY; US Merchant Marines / US Air Force

Melray R. Ballard – W. Benson, UT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Stanley Bieber – Oakland, CA; USMC, WWII & Korea, radioman

Adelard Dubreuil (100) – Putnam, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO, 7th Armored Division

Teddie Massie Sr. – Lesage, WV; US Army, WWII & Korea

Michael Priano – Brooklyn, NY; OSS, WWII, CBI, ‘frogman’, Bronze Star

Desmond Scott – London, ENG; Royal Navy, WWII

Robert Styslinger – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army, Korea, 1st Lt., B/57/7th Infantry Div., Bronze Star, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Harold Vienot – Brighton, CO; US Army, WWII, ETO

Joe Walsh (100) – East Orange, NJ; USMC; WWII, Pearl Harbor / Korea, D.I. Sgt.

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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 January 2, 2020, in Home Front, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 134 Comments.

  1. The film clip of Kate Smith singing God Bless America is a classic. Ronald Regan, relatively unknown at the time, is in the film. I have shown it to my preschoolers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A wonderful conclusion and summary, gpcox. Many folks may not be aware but Uncle Ronnie did not go into combat… because his eyesight was extremely poor. But he wanted to serve so badly he got to do what he loved: narrate WWII newsreels or “star” in US military educational movies (like the importance of identifying/spotting aircraft, piloting, etc.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Where do you get the Military Humor comics? They are cool! If it’s a secret, it’s totally okay! No pressure! xxxooo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Still love those old comics and cartoon strips..brings back fond memories! Thank you! ♡

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This was absolutely fascinating. Shows how little many of us know about a relatively recent time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great story. With missing money, integration and a future president it is crammed with information.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That was amazing, GP. A terrific post to get the new decade rolling. Wishing you health, happiness, and prosperity. Happy New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Charlee: “Happy New Year! We are back!”
    Chaplin: “And we are sending lots of purrs that you have a great year!”
    Lulu: “And tail wags, too!”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I had heard the songs that were in the film, but until last year had I seen said film. It is one of my favorite wartime movies. I use “Oh How I Hate to Get Up in The Morning” as an alarm for my husband (current Navy) boy he hates when it comes on because it means he gotta get up. 😀 Thank you for posting this entry. Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Good heavens! The film is included and is free for Amazon Prime subscribers. I’m going to watch it! Love the history, and love the fact that I can enjoy the film now, in context. Thanks, GP!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Will have to check it out. I remember it as a kid, but that a long time ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My first job was a film editor and projectionist at a small TV station. “This Is the Army” was a favorite as a Sunday afternoon feature.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I honestly he (President) played a bad role on that one, but he was a great president on the flipside, he did well I guess….

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Very interesting and informative post, I enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Those Sad Sack comics look familiar! I might have had them in my collection!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Well done for telling this story, not a single detail of which I was familiar with!! And well done, Mr Berlin, for making sure that both black and white performers were in the show, and that the whole unit was integrated.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Epic stuff GP. Love those images.
    Pardon me for sticking this in here:

    Liked by 1 person

  18. That was a very interesting time in history. As always, thanks for posting, GP!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. A very interring post indeed GP. I’m not sure if I have seen The film ‘This is the Army’ but it certainly rings a bell! With a cast of that nature it would certainly have to be notable!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This is the army Mr. Jones. No private rooms or telephones…

    Oh how I hate to get up I the morning. Oh how I’d love to remain in bed…

    I didn’t know the origin of those glee club songs from high school until now. Thanks for shedding light on a distant memory.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. This is so interesting. I really do love musicals and I had forgotten that Ronald Reagan was once an actor. .

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Reblogged this on John's Notes and commented:
    And here is the second part of the good post by GP Cox.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. For those who want to see the film – youtube has 2 postings, take the first 2+ hour one for superior quality

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Interesting info and images!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Great information, GP. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I don’t think anyone can sing “God Bless America” quite like Kate Smith did. Very informative posts, thanks. (— wonder what did happen to that $85,000…)

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I’m going to see if I can find the movie on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon or… Hmmm…

    Liked by 1 person

  28. This series is a great piece of history. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Impressive tour de force of the travelling team of This is the Army! It wasn’t just a fundraiser for the war effort, but also a significant morale booster.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Reblogged this on Long Island Past and Present and commented:
    Continuing the great story of “This is the Army” . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Thanks for a great series GP. No one can sing “God Bless America” like Kate Smith. I don’t like new singers changing its tune. It sounds awful. What are they thinking?

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I remember seeing this on TV as a kid! Thanks for stirring up the memory. And happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. A wonderful story, Pete. You do an excellent job of paying tribute to military personnel. I’m proud to know you.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. I was here earlier, but WordPress didn’t know it was me. This show is like “White Christmas” on steroids. This was a great little series. I had never heard about this, and I doubt I ever would have if I hadn’t been here. I’m glad to read that it won an award. It sounds like it should have won several.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I got it, GP! 😉 Thank you very much for the two very interesting sequels. Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Well done to Berlin for insisting black performers featured. Thanks for this conclusion, GP. I learned a lot about something I had never heard of.
    (I received your postcard today, and it will be featuring soon. 🙂 )
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Reblogged this on e-Quips and commented:
    This is the concluding part of “This is the Army”–It’s also highly worth spending the time to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. It’s interesting that it took show business to kick start integration of the armed forces.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Fascinating, GP. Especially the bit about the first integrated unit in the military working together. You win a PhD–Phenomenal HIstorical Dissemination of really cool WWII information.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Great series! Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Thanks for this story, GP

    Liked by 1 person

  42. While not a relevant comment to the post itself, I thought I would tell you the “Sad Sack” cartoons provoke a bit of nostalgia for me. I remember reading the comic books as a small child; I guess it was still close enough to WWII for them to be common.
    The Berlin posts were interesting as all your posts are G.P.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Two of Leora’s brothers went through Camp Upton on their way to France. Enjoyed this post. I remember seeing Kate Smith on black and white TV. Yes, she sang “God Bless America.”

    Liked by 1 person

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