February 1945.
A U.S. Marine gives a cigarette to a Japanese soldier buried in the black volcanic sand of Iwo Jima

U.S. Navy Douglas SBD-3 "Dauntless" dive bombers from scouting squadron VS-8 from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) approaching the burning Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma to make the third set of attacks on her, during the Battle of Midway, 6 June 1942.
Burning tanker SS R.P. Resor off the coast of New Jersey, United States Feb 27, 1942, after being torpedoed by German submarine U-578. Resor burned for 46 hours after being torpedoed before grounding off Barnegat Light while being towed. Many of her crew perished.
United States Library of Congress

CAPTAIN CALVIN WORTHINGTON, WWII B-17 “Flying Fortress” (“The Paper Doll”) pilot with the Army Air Corps, 390th Bomber Group, flying 29 missions over Germany. Awarded the Air Medal (for single acts of heroism or meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight) five times, and received the Distinguished Flying Cross for acts of heroism or extraordinary achievement.
For people that grew up in Southern California, Cal was a car dealer who would ‘eat a bug’ if he couldn’t sell you a car. He would ride a hippo and play with lions and tigers in his car commercials. Quite a character. He is the tall gentleman in the back row.

A GI shows a captured Japanese Type 92 heavy machine gun to the camera.
This was the IJA's principal heavy-machine gun of WW2 and was a robust and reliable weapon, known as the "Woodpecker" to the Allies because of the sound of its relatively slow and staccato rate of fire.
It was deived from the French Hotchkiss M1914 heavy machine gun...and like the latter it was strip-fed.
Note the carrying-poles in their sockets on the tripod legs. These enabled the heavy gun assembly to be moved quickly by the mg team from position to position, as necessary.
Buna, circa 1943.
(LIFE / Strock)

By the end of WWII, American industrial might and the need to fight on two fronts resulted in the U.S. Navy having a greater tonnage of combatant ships than all other navies combined. A military survey conducted by the New York Times in 1947 revealed that the U.S. had 3,820,000 tons in its active and reserve fleets versus the world's combined 2,860,000 tons.

US 751st Tank Battalion Sherman Tanks, possibly in Anzio
The Italian tank in two of the pictures is a Carro Armato M15/42, which never served in North Africa.
These six pictures were misplaced in a North Africa Album dated May 1943
LIFE Magazine Archives - Eliot Elisofon Photographer

US Army soldiers of the 16th Regiment prepare to land in North Africa November 1942, These were the first American GIs to fight German forces in large numbers against General Rommel's Afrika Corps during World War II

The young faces of freedom.
These American boys were drafted in the closing months of 1944 and sent for their basic training.
The were destined to become replacements, ultimately being sent to their receiving units from a "Repple-Depple".
Late in the war the duration of Army basic training programs was reduced.
As a consequence, although they arrived at the front well-fed and well-equipped, memoirs by vets reveal that in many instances they were woefully unprepared for what was ahead of them.
I recall one account of an 18 year old replacement arriving at his unit in the dead of night, completely disorientated and really not knowing where he was or what his duties were.
On top of that, the "old-timers" in the platoon looked at him with a degree of suspicion because he was yet to prove himself...and he was filling the place of one of their fallen buddies.
Being a replacement in WW2 evidently wasn't easy.
(LIFE / McAvoy)

John Wayne visiting US troops in Cairns
As Anzac Day draws nearer, it is interesting to think about what life was like in Cairns during the World War 11 during a time when the city was the base for thousands of Australian and American soldiers involved in the Pacific operations.
That brought the occasional celebrity or VIP to the city, often staying at the Hides Hotel.
Even the “Duke” took the trip down under to entertain the troops in January 1944. John Wayne was a big star in those days and is pictured here with a US Weather Squadron member at the Cairns Aerodrome.
Other VIP visitors includes America’s first lady at the time, Eleanor Roosevelt, Australian General Sir Thomas Blamey, and the Supreme Allied Commander of the Southwest Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur.

P-47D Thunderbolt 'Torrid Tessie' of the 346th Fighter Squadron and flown by USAAF 1st Lt Homer St. Onge flying over Italy, Feb 25, 1945.
Lt St Onge was shot down over the Po Valley in Italy on Apr 27, 1945. Lt St Onge was uninjured, rescued by partisans, and delivered to a US Army infantry headquarters.
United States Army Air Force

On February 23, 1942, slightly more than two Months after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Japanese Submarine I-17 under the command of Kozo Nishino surfaced off of Santa Barbara California USA
The Japanese government, concerned about President Roosevelt's radio speech scheduled for that evening, ordered a Japanese submarine to shell the California coast that day
Around 7PM local time, using the 5.5” / 140mm deck gun, the crew of I-17 fired around 25 rounds at the Ellwood Oil Fields
Damage was minimal, no one was injured, and the gasoline storage tanks that were targeted were missed completely, Kozo Nishino would radio Tokyo that he had “left Santa Barbara in flames"
Some of the workers at the oil field saw I-17 on the surface, one 5.5” round passed over nearby Wheeler Inn, prompting owner Laurence Wheeler to call the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office
Parts of the the comedy war movie “1941” which was released in 1979 and directed by Steven Spielberg was loosely based on the Ellwood oil field bombardment
LIFE Magazine Archives - Eliot Elisofon Photographer


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