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“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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