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!
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.
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!