Lincoln Leslie Loper served in France with a military medical unit during the last year of WWI. Born and raised in Iowa, Loper eventually worked his way to Washington, living in Seattle as early as 1942. It’s tough to trace an individual based on scant information, but I’ve been able to deduce that he passed away in 1972 based on his military records.
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to acquire a few photographs from the estate of the venerated Lou Varro, the best known WWII pinup calendar artist in the MTO during WWII. Lou is well known for his small-print monthly pinup calendars that would be posted in B-24 and B-17 bombers during missions in Italy. I’ve seen a handful of his calendars during my time collecting WWII photography and am happy to have acquired a few photos of the artist. I also snagged an original Varro December 1944 “topless” calendar page.
Lou’s most popular subject was attractive women from his hometown. Although the subject of the portrait is currently unknown, we do know that this photo made the news in Lou’s hometown of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada in 1944. I would love to track down the article, it apparently featured Lou and his exploits during his service with a B-24 bomb group during WWII. See below for the photo that “made the article.”
The woman featured in the above sketch can clearly be seen in a shot of Lou’s bunk taken shortly thereafter. His calendar obsession can be seen in the image……. what a great glimpse into the everyday life of a bomb group EM.
Lou passed away a few years ago, but had a lot to say about his wartime art career:
“Soon after, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and served in World War II as a non-commissioned officer. While stationed in southern Italy, he worked as a processor for films that came off bomber planes after they were sent for an attack. Here, he found another opportunity to work as an artist.”
“I dabbled in photography, but my specialty then was calendars,” Varro said.
(from the above linked article) Varro would use his spare time in the photography lab — an old barn that had been converted for military use — to make calendars for his fellow servicemen.
“I would find a picture of a pretty girl, make a couple of them and give them away for the guys to put in their planes or their huts,” he said. “A lot of guys knew and liked me for that.”
This is a continual post and will be updated as more material and information is added to the PortraitsofWar collection.
One of Varro’s famous WWII pinup calendars. Most of his models were taken from previously exiting “nudie magazines” and retrofitted into calendars. Please enjoy Miss December, 1944!
I absolutely love posting stories of WWII veterans who make the headlines in local newspapers. In this case, a high school friend posted a heartwarming story from a local CT news channel on facebook. Roy Rodrigues, 90 years old, received the purple heart for wounded received against an enemy while a member of the 8th Armored Division, attached to the 71st Infantry Division during WWII. The newsclip doesn’t really delve into the exact details, but the piece is moving and I thought it would make a nice addition to the site. Click the photo of Roy below to watch the video.
It’s been a long month for us here at PortraitsofWar, and we apologize for a lack of posting since the last photo on April 3rd. In today’s post we will be looking at a different side of the war than normally highlighted on this blog. Normally focused on American portraits, photos, and slides, we will be dissecting the story behind a German prisoner of war being held in Marseilles, France in 1918.
Before delving into the biographical information hand inscribed on the reverse side of the image, we will inspect and identify the visual imagery captured on the obverse. The first thing of note is the format of the image. The photo was printed as a real photo postcard (RPPC) and was likely obtained in a pack of 6 or 12. It’s not uncommon to see identical copies of WWI RPPC’s pop up on the market from time to time. The consistent size, quality and subject matter of these images make them a highly collectable form of WWI militaria.
The three major identifying features present on the front of the RPPC will need some research using easily-accessible internet resources.
- Collar Insignia
Upon quick glance it’s clear to see that the buttons running down the center are a rimmed (see the raised edge along the outside of the button) with a crown in the center. This type of button is widely known as the standard button of a WWI German soldier and were made to be removable to allow for the cleaning of the uniform. This was a common standard of many nations during WWI.
The next identifiable feature of the tunic is the visible decoration of the collar. Here at PortraitsofWar, we’re use to identifying WWI doughboy collar insignia, but had to rely upon outside sources to help with this particular post. The first thing to call attention to the neck region is the disc on the left side of the sitter’s uniform.
The disc on the left hand side of the photo is known as an Non Commissioned Officer collar disc (sometimes as disk) and can infrequently be seen in period studio photographs. A lengthy internet-based search only turned up a small handful of images, the best of which can be seen below.
The third and final identifying feature of the obverse side of the photo is the headgear worn by the sitter. It appear to be an easily bendable version of the Prussian feldmutz field cap. This style of cap was popular with NCO’s and were easily folded or packed for transport. WWII versions were popularly known as “crushers.”
Cap Cockades (Kokarden)
The circular insignia seen on the cap above are known as cockades, or kokarden in German. Sadly, the photo we’re working with is in black and white, but typically each cockade color helps identify the unit type, region and era of creation.
So what do we know just by viewing the front of the image? We certainly know the soldier is an NCO in the German Army during WWI. He’s sporting all the fittings associated with a non commissioned officer of the period, but doesn’t have all the extra tidbits normally associated with a WWI period phograph. Where are his ribbons, medals and weaponry?
Hand Written Reverse Side
In the world of identifying WWI photos, the really important research material is always included on the backside (reverse) of the image. In this case, the German soldier oddly wrote in French to an unmarried friend or relative of his who was living in Dresden during the time. It’s very likely that he was writing to a girlfriend or close female friend, as the wording is very proper. Please see below for a low resolution scan of the backside.
What does the backside tell us?
Firstly, it’s clearly a real photo postcard created to be sent to recipients. The CARTE POSTALE header is a clear indicator of it’s origin: France. The sender of the postcard notes Marseille as his current location, and Dresden, Germany is the destination. How do we interpret a real photo postcard without knowing anything else about the people included? Isn’t it strange that the postcard doesn’t include a message? This infers a close connection between the writer and recipient. Perhaps she already knows about his wartime status.
This section is typically reserved for messages but, in this case, relays the status of the photographed soldier’s military situation. His handwriting is careful and is strangely written in French without the normal stylistic handwriting nuances of Germanic writing of the period, it becomes easy to make out the passage.
pris. de guerre
6283, depit de Marseille,
The surname of the sitter is uncertain at this point. Is is Greissbach, Greissback, Greissbarf or possibly Greiss back? The prefix Uxfdir. is short for Unteroffizier and can be easily related to a rank between corporal and sergeant most worldwide military rankings. It’s odd that an Unteroffizier would wear an NCO collar disc, but that is an issue best left to the armchair historians who browse this blog.
Who was it sent to?
“Frau Gerfrun Griecfsbahn
Weinbergstraße 1/73 I”
Was this woman living in Dresden at the time? Does Weinbergstraße 1/73 I correspond with an apartment number in the city?
If so, this is the location of the house the postcard was meant to be delivered to:
And is this the house that the card was meant to be sent? I recognize the Audi in the carport! I used to have the same model.
I need the help of German speaking friends to help decipher the last names of the sitter and the recipient. Hopefully we can narrow down the search using the power of the internet. If you have a clue that may help, please don’t hesitate to comment on this post!
The identity of the sitter is lost to history, but I’m hoping someone on the WWW may help put a name to the sitter. US Marines sporting District of Paris patches are hard to find photographically, and this unnamed leatherneck is begging to be identified.
Most of my readers probably don’t knit, but I came across this blog post and had to share!
Originally posted on knitbyahenshop:
knitting and history
[UPDATE: I posted even more patterns from this historic knitting book here in 2013!]
Today is Veterans Day and it is also the 1 year anniversary of when I started this blog. So this post will combine two things I love: history and knitting. With free historic knitting patterns, no less!
As I wrote about in my very first post, what we in the United States call Veterans Day is known to Europe, Canada and most of the world as Remembrance Day. This year we’ll observe the holiday on Monday, but the actual date is the eleventh because Nov. 11 1918 was Armistice day—the day that World War I ended. The United States lost maybe about 100,000 or so soldiers in the Great War. European countries lost millions.
The Great War, as it was then known, started in 1914, but the U.S. did not join until 1917. During the years the…
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Material related to wartime (and postwar) activities of the YMCA can be easily researched through the help of internet databases, digitized books, collectors forums and various other digital avenues. What is lacking, however, is information directly related to the individuals who volunteered their time and money to travel to a foreign county to serve donuts to war-weary doughboys waiting to return to their families in the US.
I was lucky enough to track down a large grouping of ephemera collected during the war by a YMCA canteen entertainer, a Miss Kittie Kunz. Included in the grouping is a selection of rare YMCA “unit history” paperwork which gives names and identities to many of the women and men who served alongside Kittie. I researched each of the names in hopes of tracking down passport application portraits. I was overwhelmingly successful and found nearly 75% of the names in the US Passport database that matched perfectly. Each was listed as being a member of the YMCA or Red Cross, and each matches the date range for the YMCA hut. A neat find! Please read on to see the faces of the women who served alongside Kittie. You will also find a smattering of hard-to-find ephemera related to the YMCA. It’s amazing that Kittie saved some of these items. Not all the paperwork is contained in this post, but the scanned material gives a quick glimpse into the typical material a YMCA canteen worker would deal with.
Here is where my favorite piece of researching WWI material came handy….. I was able to research the names of the women listed in the distribution section and track down their WWI era passport applications. Here are my results:
RED CROSS WOMEN
Today’s post will be a little different than most of my typical photographically-centered material. Various government offices and departments printed these for a multitude of reasons. Some were printed by the Red Cross, others were aimed at health and hygiene, some were distributed by the Stars and Stripes to help wounded soldiers feel a bond with their Division or branch of the Army, while others were directed towards tourism and cultural sensitivity. All the scans in today’s post are from my collection and have been picked up over the years for a few dollars each. Some are very common, while others are scarce. The most popular amongst collectors are the divisional histories printed and put out by the Stars and Stripes. Some can fetch upwards of $100 US.
Many of the artists and writers for these publications are unknown and lost to history. In a few cases I’ve been able to track down the names of the original illustrators. Here are a few that I’ve researched for this website:
And here are some illustrated booklets which were printed in order to direct US service members stationed or visiting foreign countries:
And here’s an obscure language guide specifically printed for US soldiers, marines and airmen in Iceland.
This one was given out by Coca-Cola as a notebook and calendar:
These two booklets were aimed at keeping sailors from catching venereal diseases while away on shore leave:
This rare booklet was a pro-socialist publication”
Here are some example of divisional histories put out at the end of the war:
And these were focused on specific service branches:
And some are tough to categorize:
When searching for new portraiture to add to PortraitsofWar I generally tend to look for material with identifiable soldiers, uniforms, medals and other researchable information to help shed light on life during wartime. In this post, I will be researching a photograph of a US Navy sailor who caught my eye during a recent eBay search.
The information written on the back of the postcard shows an identification of the sitter as a B.G. Miller. He is identified as being a Pharmacist’s Mate 1st Class from Salt Lake City, Utah who was on duty at one point at a hospital in Samoa on August 1st, 1918. Additional info added to the photo includes an anecdote about his position as a Mormon missionary in Germany during the breakout of the war between Germany and France.
With a little luck and a lot of research I was able to track down our mysterious B.G. Miller. Byron Gardener Miller was found listed in the Utah World War 1 Military Service Questionnaire on ancestry.com. Please see his card below:
It looks like Byron attended the University of Utah for a year before being shipped off for his overseas missionary work. This is likely the reason for his service as a Pharmacist’s Mate with the US NAVY as can be seen in the details of his uniform.
The reference to his missionary service in Germany during the outbreak of war in July of 1914 is partially confirmed through my discovery of his listing aboard a ship ledger arriving in Montreal, PQ in September of 1914.
His service in Samoa has also been confirmed through the same series of records.
Sadly, his arrival back in the US in 1919 wasn’t likely a time of joy for the Miller family; a Utah death certificate shows that he died of influenza only a few months later on February 7th, 1920. Interestingly enough, my research into the US Hospital in Samoa shows that a MASSIVE flu outbreak in the Samoan Islands lead to the deaths of nearly 25% of the population. The US Navy set up an epidemic commission to deal with the issue. The results of the intervention in American Samoa were incredible. Apparently the method of using maritime quarantine lowered mortality rates to nearly 1%. It’s strange that Byron would die of influenza only a few months later while in the United States……
For the 1919 report please CLICK HERE
One of the main goals of this website is to help share photos and pertinent military service information with the families of the men and women depicted in the images I collect. In this case, I’m hoping a Miller family representative will discover a rare image of their ancestor who witnessed a formative time in history.
Two years ago I was lucky enough to purchase a large collection of 35mm color slides from a family in New Hampshire. The 5000+ 35mm slides were taken by an unnamed member of the US Foreign Service who was a key member in international affairs in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I’m being judicious and only posting very interesting photos from his collection, and in this example I’m posting a photo of Philip W. Manhard upon his return from Vietnam. This was his “welcome back” party from being POW.
I’ve sent a bulk of the 35mm slides to a close member of the Manhard family and hope they will trickle down to the younger relatives. Special thanks to Dick Manhard for responding to my letter and accepting the slides seen in this post.
Philip W. Manhard as a POW:
Ambassador Henry Broade, Philip Manhard, Noel Gaylor
Original caption: Clark Base, Philippines. U.S. Ambassador to the Phillipines Henry Byroade, gives a handshake to Philip Manhard, highest ranking Civilian captured by the communist, after he arrived here 3/16 following his release. Mayhard, of McLean, Virginia, was a provincial advisor when caaptured in 1969. Center os admiral Noel Gayler, commander Oacific Naval Forces.
MANHARD, PHILLIP WALLACE Name: Phillip Wallace Manhard Branch/Rank: CIVILIAN Unit: US STATE DEPT Date of Birth: Home City of Record: Date of Loss: 01-February-68 Country of Loss: SOUTH VIETNAM Loss Coordinates: 162736 North 1073302 East Status (in 1973): Returnee Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground Missions: Other Personnel in Incident: Refno: 1013 Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews and CACCF = Combined Action Combat Casualty File. REMARKS: 03/73 RELEASED BY PRG CHIEF OF CORDS HIGHEST RANKING CIV CAPTURED DECEASED 1998 No further information available at this time.