World War, Living Overseas and the G.I. Jive…

Posted by on July 25, 2009

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For a lonely GI, serving overseas during World War II ripped them away from home, hearth, and their favorite girl.  Considering many of them were either teenagers or just a few years past, it was tough.  War is never pleasant, no matter where you serve.

One of the best ways to feel a little bit closer to home when you are in this case is music.  Familiar music from home can greatly make you feel better or at least temporarily make home seem not so far away.

While our troops serving overseas today have the luxury of the portable music player and streaming audio via the Internet, the boys of World War II had no such luxury. Kinda hard to find a record player in a foxhole somewhere!

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Recognizing that music (and the entertainer) can make all the difference both in moral and effectiveness of the troops, the United States tried mightily to get snippets of home to the troops through shortwave broadcasts as well as special records known as V-discs.

Containing popular songs and entertainers of the day like Crosby, Dinah Shore, and that the not so bulky Sinatra, these tidbits served to bring a little taste of home to the kid next door so far away on some remote Pacific island or European battlefield.

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Today, examining the shows themselves gives us insight into both the troops and a bit of American history that seems to be slipping away.

With names like G.I. Jill, the G.I. Jive and Command Performance, these shows did their best to help ease the long distances away from home.  One of these in particular seemed to resonate with the troops: G.I. Jill.  Consisting of a short radio show, this popular gal named Martha Wilkerson served up “fresh wax” via shortwave broadcasts.  Says Time:

Recording six days a week in Los Angeles, Martha Wilkerson uses the aeronym, “G.I. Jill.” Her transcriptions, flown out in six-day batches by A.F.R.S., are tenderly passed from one mosquito network to the next. The show also goes by short wave to Europe, Africa, Australia, the Aleutians, and war zones between and beyond. For good reason her closing line is: “Good morning to some of you, good afternoon to some more of you, and to the rest of you—good night.” (4)

In any event, our limited space on this blog only lets us tell you a short bit about a few of these resources so popular with the troops.  Try the links below for more information and details!

Have a great weekend!

Links:

V-Disc (Wikipedia)

Time Magazine: G.I. Jill

This Is The Armed Forces Network

Chuck Miller Website: V-Discs

Music of the World War II Era

Glenn Miller and His Orchestra

Duty, Honor, Applause: America’s Entertainers in World War II

Time Magazine: G.I. Network

Time Magazine: Mosquito Network

Internet Archive (Audio Link) AFRS Musical Broadcasts

Internet Archive (Audio Link) G.I. Jive

Rand’s Esoteric OTR: Command Performance Fourth Anniversary

Sources:

(1-2) Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

(3) National Archives

(4) Time Magazine: G.I. Jill


2 Responses to World War, Living Overseas and the G.I. Jive…

  1. Paul Schultz

    Thank you for an excellent article. A couple of years ago, my father-in-law gave me a four-CD set of many of the V-disc recordings you refer to. It is a wonderful collection of music, comedy (including Bob Hope), complete with personal messages to the troops from the artists, such as Judy Garland, Fats Waller, Bing Crosby, and many others. One can only imagine how precious these records must have been to the lonely servicemen all over the world. Those interested in the period might want to check out my new novel, THE FUHRER VIRUS. It is a WWII spy/conspiracy/thriller for adult readers, and can be found at http://www.eloquentbooks.com/TheFuhrerVirus.html, http://www.amazon.com, http://www.barnesandnoble.com, and http://www.booksamillion.com.

    Thanks!

    Paul Schultz

  2. tony

    Thanks for the thoughts…glad you liked the article! I wanted to write some more, but ran out of room! Thanks also for the link to your book, I will check it out–there is a preview of it is on Google Books! Here’s the link if you are interested: http://books.google.com/books?id=fcH7hYCmRy8C&dq=fuhrer+virus+review&source=gbs_navlinks_s

    Tony