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Grolier Club Exhibitions


Victory Books, The Best-Read Army in the World, curated by Molly Manning, exhibited at the Grolier Club

During World War II, over 4,600 unique newspapers were created by and for troops. Whether they were cranked off of mimeograph machines supplied by the military, or produced on "liberated" professional presses, newspapers found their way to American troops eager to practice their First Amendment freedom of the press. Some domestic newspapers from home also served troops via miniature editions.


In Japan Even the Stripes Read the Stars and Stripes, undated. 

First printed during the Civil War in the 1860s, the Stars and Stripes continued its tradition of accompanying U.S. troops at war during the 1940s. Over three dozen regional editions were hatched during World War II—from Casablanca to Tokyo. Each theater operated independently, and there was no single, worldwide version of each daily paper.  This advertisement was for an edition printed in Japan and notes the paper’s three main offerings: news, sports, and comics.


Safeguard of Liberty Freedom of the Press! Undated. 

Possibly the work of the U.S. Office of War Information, this poster emphasizes the important role of the press during World War II. At a time when Germany choked press freedom in all occupied European nations, the U.S. government stressed the importance of free presses in a democracy.


Eleventh Armored Division Information and Education Section. The Press Says… R. Kiesel Salzburg (Printer), undated. 

Troops stationed overseas cared deeply about press coverage of their unit’s feats. This poster, created by and for the Eleventh Armored Division, is double-sided and replete with reprinted newspaper articles that mentioned the heroics of the division. From the Stars and Stripes to the Baltimore Sun and Chicago Tribune—this poster was designed to stoke pride in the division and boost morale.

Journal Herald (Overseas Edition). Dayton, OH: March 25, 1943. 

An ingenious solution to slow overseas newspaper delivery via postal mail was to print a weekly newspaper directly on a V-Mail form. V-Mail letters were essentially photographed and transferred to rolls of film, the film was flown overseas—often overnight—and the film was then processed to create a miniature print copy of the V-Mailed document. Dayton, Ohio’s Journal Herald may have been the only newspaper to employ this method.

Chicago Overseas Tribune. Zamboanga, Mindanao, Philippine Islands: February 24, 1945. 

WP, “News From Home. Bougainville: April 6, 1944. 

To ensure swifter delivery for the Pacific theater, where postal mail easily took more than two months to arrive from the United States, the Chicago Tribune arranged to print its overseas edition at a local publishing company on Mindanao in the Philippines. There was still a delay. The February 24, 1945, edition was not printed until March 10, 1945. Still, as the photograph shows, troops were eager to read the Tribune—whenever it arrived.

AP Newsfeatures Photo. “In the Beginning.” London: 1943. 

“Breaking our Arms After Coming Out Again. China-Burma-India Theater, undated. 

Troop newspapers—those published by and for GIs—were typically printed in the field.  However, some large papers were granted an office. The Stars and Stripes had a well-appointed newsroom in London where correspondents and editors worked far from the front lines. The CBI Roundup, one of the most freewheeling and recalcitrant papers of the war, also operated out of an office thanks to the support of its commanding general, Joseph “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell.

Acme. “Underground Headquarters.” Anzio, Italy: July 29, 1944. 

U.S. Marine Corps Photo. “Fighter-Writers. At sea, July 29, 1943. 

Around 4,600 unique GI newspapers were printed during World War II.  As these photographs show, impromptu newsrooms were set up wherever troops were. In Anzio, Italy, troops worked from an underground cave. As U.S. Marines sailed to war zones, they filled the empty hours aboard ship by printing and circulating their own shipboard newspaper, The Pacific Press.


42nd Rainbow Division Infantry Division World News. May 1, 1945. 

Troop newspapers provided serious coverage of historically significant events. This edition of the 42nd Division’s World News details the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. It provides a contemporaneous and heartbreaking description of the camp’s horrors and the prisoners’ reaction to freedom.  “When an officer pressed thru mobs of the forgotten men . . . he wept unashamedly as limp ghosts . . . tried to salute him with broom-stick arms, falling back in deathly stupor.”

First Lieutenant David C. Womack. To My Darling Wife Eunice From Your Husband in Épinal, France. Épinal: 1945. 

Newspaper coverage of a unit’s feats was treasured. This was especially true for the 800,000 Black American troops who fought for democracy in a racially segregated Army.  It was incredibly meaningful when the press highlighted the work of Black troops for all to see. In 1945, 1st Lt. David Womack hand-carved this wooden box while stationed in Épinal, France, and preserved newspaper clippings about the work performed by Black troops in the area.

The 954th Spotlight. San Severo, Italy: 954th Engineers, January 25, 1944.

When troops published by agreement with Italian publishers, they creatively dealt with the Italian alphabet’s omission of the letters y, w, and k. The 954th Spotlight created a “code” printed in the lower right-hand corner of this issue.  “Y is o, n; w is a, t; k is e, h,” it explained in mis-matched font. “So when you see some strange-looking word spellings, you can say to yourself that we planned it that way,” it added.

Tough Sheet. Ie Shima: Foxhole Press Bureau, 1903rd Engineer Aviation Battalion. October 18, 1945. 

Tough Sheet. Ie Shima: 1903rd Engineer Aviation Battalion. October 1, 1945. 

Some papers adopted a colorful name for its masthead, such as the Tough Sheet. The mimeographed October 18 edition printed in Iejima (formerly Anglicized as “Ie Shima”) suggests it was aptly named. It explains: “Because of typhoonic, hectic, and mechanicalic conditions (the latter meaning this G—Damned typewriter),” the paper had been forced on a hiatus. Weeks later, it was printed on a professional press. Such were the trials and tribulations of newspaper publishing in wartime.

Rainbow Reveille. Camp Gruber, OK: 42nd Infantry Division, December 23, 1943. 

Many up-and-coming artists and journalists who served in World War II gravitated to their unit or division troop newspaper and dazzled readers with their professional skills. While at Camp Gruber, the 42nd Division’s newspaper, The Rainbow Reveille, contained illustrations by staff artist Don Freeman. After the war, Freeman became a prolific author who was perhaps best known for his children’s book, Corduroy. Freeman’s art graced the cover of the December 23, 1943, Reveille.

Jungle Mudder. Undisclosed Location, July 25, 1942. 

Most overseas troop newspapers operated under strict military censorship rules and could not disclose their location, the weather, specifics about the type of military units in the area, or other identifying information. The Jungle Mudder still managed to produce a 34-page issue filled with cartoons, humorous anecdotes, sports updates, and innocuous descriptions of the projects its readers were working on.

Fighter Post. Iwo Jima: VII Fighter Command, October 13, 1945. 

On Iwo Jima, the VII Fighter Command produced this mimeographed newspaper featuring illustrations by the (then) up-and-coming cartoonist, Dave Berg. The image on the front cover depicts a veteran in 1955, reminiscing about the war with his children; among his souvenirs is a stack of Fighter Posts. Troops newspapers were among the most cherished mementos of war because they faithfully chronicled tales of the people and battles that were unique to a single unit.

Scars and Gripes. Fontaine-L’Eveque, Belgium: July 7, 1945. 

After V-E Day, some newspapers were hatched to serve occupation troops and memorialize those who had not survived the war. As an editorial for this first issue of Scars and Gripes explained, the “Scars component of the paper’s name was “a symbol of the many scars the Battalion has suffered through the loss of key men and officers.”  “Gripes” represented the soldiers’ “right as free Americans to contribute gripes and criticisms.”