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There’s More Than One Way to Shoot in a War

The camera-toting soldier

Shooting with cameras rather than guns.  Signal Corps photographers were the “eyes” of the military.  Whether taking motion pictures or still photographs, often in the thick of the action, military photographers captured and produced scores of images for the purpose of strategy and intelligence, map-making and simply to document historic moments.  Photographers in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and other ‘conflicts’ captured some of the most iconic images of their eras.

In addition to its primary role in military transmissions, the Signal Corps, also played a key role in producing training film for army and civilian personnel and documenting combat missions.  During WWII, noted Hollywood producers, directors, and photographers all served in the Signal Corps.  They all brought their talents in the motion picture studio to the field of battle, while dozens of others provided instruction to the personnel.

Signal Corps photo, 4 June ’44, Normandy

In the European Theater (ETO), Signal Corps photographers took part in the landings of North Africa, Italy and later, Normandy.  Amazing footage of D-Day showed members of the unit hitting the Utah and Omaha Beaches, forwarding the first film of the amphibious assaults to England via carrier pigeons.

The Signal Corps subsequently documented every major military campaign around the world, producing millions of feet of combat film and hundreds of thousands of developed still images.  From these sources, the Army supplied the news media in the U.S. and elsewhere with imagery of the war, using 24-hour air delivery service and later sophisticated telephoto electronic transmission equipment.

The 165th

In the course of photographing WWII, the Signal Corps also played a crucial role in documenting evidence of Nazi atrocities and the Holocaust.  Many of the early still and moving pictures of newly liberated Nazi concentration camps were taken by Army photographers and many were later transmitted to news agencies in America and other countries, where they helped to inform the world about the horrors of Nazism and the plight of concentration camp prisoners.  The US Army and other Allied governments eventually used these to confront German POWs as evidence of war crimes.

Lieutenant from the 165th Signal Photo Company dries negatives.

Photography and film taken by the Corps had a variety of uses.  Training films were effective for teaching and indoctrinating the masses of inductees.  Studies showed that these films reduced training time by 30%.  Many of these film were re-scored into foreign languages for the non-English speaking Allies.

In the field, the Corps distributed entertainment films for the soldiers’ morale and feeling for home.  While on the home front, the news reels marked the progress of the struggle, bringing the war home to the millions of Americans before the days of television.

Signal Corps footage comprised 30 to 50% of each newsreel; while the still pictures illustrated the nation’s books, newspapers and magazines.  The government did put some restrictions on what could be shown, but the public received a more realistic look at the warfare than ever before.

Signal Corps photo, 11th A/B Div. jump on Aparri, Luzon

 

 

This article was first published in “The Voice of the Angels” newspaper of the 11th Airborne Division Association.

 

 

 

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Military Humor –

 

 

Signal Corps

 

 

 

 

 

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Quarantine humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Franklin Beach – Washington, D.C. ; US Navy, WWII, Corpsman

James Byrd – Marion, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot / Air Force Reserves, Lt. Col. (Ret.)

Otho “Jim” Craddock – Malden, MO; US Navy, WWII, USS Bagley

Mary (Mory) Eldridge (100) – Appleton, WI; US Navy WAVES, WWII

Robert Hull – Oshtemo, MI; US Army, WWII & Korea, Major (Ret.)

George R. Reeser – Washington, IL; USMC, PTO, Pvt., I Co./3/6th Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

Mary Scott – Ebensburg, PA; Civilian, Dept. of Defense & Agriculture, WWII

Jack R. Stambaugh – Wichita Falls, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO, Co. B/1/6th Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

Charles Vonderau – Brooklyn, NY; US Navy, Yeoman 2nd Class, USS Bangust

Ferrald Walker Sr. (105) – Rockwood, TN; US Army, WWII, ETO, 1512th Battalion Detachment, Sgt.

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A Newsreel Cameraman’s View of D-Day

I CAN NOT IMAGINE HOW I MISSED DISCOVERING THIS BLOG BEFORE NOW!!I   ENJOY !!

The Unwritten Record

Jack Lieb went to Europe in 1943 with two movie cameras: He brought his 35mm black and white camera to film war coverage for Hearst’s News of the Day newsreels and his 16mm home movie camera to shoot color film to show to his family back home. After the war, Lieb edited the color footage into a film that he would narrate in lectures around the country, in venues as varied as the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. and his daughter’s fourth grade class in Chicago.

In the film below, donated by the Lieb family to the National Archives in 1984, you’ll see D-Day from a perspective different than the official military film or commercial newsreel. With his personal footage, Lieb takes the viewer through the preparations in England, where he spent time with war correspondents Ernie Pyle, Jack Thompson, and Larry LaSueur, to the…

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