Tag Archives: WWII

Far from Home


2.5″ x 4″ snapshot of sailor in profile. 1940’s. Private Collection.

A small candid photograph of an American sailor in profile, with local children in the background. Chances are this was taken in the North African region between 1940 and 1943, Libya maybe…

So the photographer asked him to pose for the picture, and his reply was to lean toward the camera and present his profile with the hand of a thinking man. It worked out perfectly! While I find the subject beautiful, the composition is as well. It feels professional even if an amateur took it.

WWII era sailors Bill & Jim’s “After”

Bill Hall & Jim Pollen. RPPC. Private Collection.

Bill Hall & Jim Pollen. Tiajuana Jail RPPC. Private Collection.

World War II era sailors Bill and Jim and three bottles of liquor…what could go wrong? They don’t look too inebriated on this arcade picture taken in Tijuana, Mexico. Looks to me this was a “Before” picture they named “After”, as if we’re fooled. :)

Pretty boy Bill looks like he hit something hard with his right hand.

Detail close-up.

Detail close-up.

RPPC: EKC 1939-1950

He smiles while the forest fire rages on

Photobooth. Handsome army soldier. Private Collection.

Photobooth. Smiling U.S. army soldier in “forest fire”. Private Collection.

Don’t sit like this and smile! Run!

Seriously…this backdrop looks ominous.

And seriously too, what an adorable smile on this handsome U.S. army soldier!



It’s one of those days when I post and post! I found out who was behind the Chicago jazz band I posted back in May too. Very exciting!

Johnny lost a tooth

Three sailors. RPPC. Private Collection.

Three WWII era American sailors. RPPC. Private Collection.

On the back is written “Johnny far left”. He’s more experienced than his two buddies, having completed 3 campaigns.

Did he lose his front tooth banging into something on the ship? Or maybe he lost it less heroically at a port tavern… :) (I recall having somewhat of the same conversation about another picture in this collection!).

A very handsome trio though. They’re covering the backdrop, only a few flying birds showing by Johnny’s face.

RPPC: EKC 1939-1950

1943 Heribert, the WWII German submariner

Heribert the WWII German sailor. RPPC. Private Collection.

Handsome WWII German sailor. Kriegsmarine Heribert. Bremen 1943. RPPC. Private Collection.

Smiling Heribert could have been an actor. He certainly had the striking good looks. But unfortunately he was a submariner serving under Hitler. Posting a picture of a German military guy from WWII is always an icky affair for some, but not for me.

The Kriegsmarine crews manned U-boats. Those submarines earned the nickname of “iron coffins”.

By war’s end, 28,000 out of 39,000 German sailors had died at sea. That’s 3 out of 4 wiped out, the highest casualty rate of all German forces. They did considerable damage to Allied forces too: 3,000 Allied ships (175 warships; 2,825 merchant ships) were sunk by U-boat torpedoes. The numbers are staggering on both sides.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once wrote “The only thing that really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril.”

But let’s come back to Heribert.

Without a last name there is no way of knowing if he made it through to the end or not, but the statistics are against him. Most German mariner casualties happened in the second half of the war when Allied technology advanced enough to effectively counteract their offensive.

Heribert's note.

[…] Memory / from Your Friend. Heribert. The other half of the postcard is blank.

He had his picture taken in Kiel and he wrote this message from Bremen, Germany on November 25, 1943. From the little I understand of it, he addressed it to his friend and I see the word memory or souvenir (andenken). His Ns and Ms look like Us too, so this makes it doubly hard to try and translate. A German Tumblr person translated it to “To Eternal Remembrance”.

There is no address and the postcard wasn’t posted, This was a picture he gave or left behind for his friend to find.

Photographer: Kunstfoto A. Klein. Kiel, Holstenstr. 104. Germany.

A (long) note to the casual reader:

I do not support racism, intolerance or other extreme views.

I have American, Russian and British soldiers who fought the same war in this collection. And while I understand the knee-jerk reaction of demonizing anyone who wore the Nazi uniform I like to dig beyond the surface.

I don’t see the world strictly in black and white terms and believe your average drafted WWII German soldier, sailor and pilot began the war for family and country but ended it disillusioned and horrified. They did what every soldier does in wartime: go on missions and hope they and their friends survived it to see another day. The alternative for the Germans was execution.

By the second half of the war 100,000 of the German military took the risk and deserted, 25,000 of them got caught and executed, and tens of thousands more ended up in concentration camps or “punishment battalions” where they were made to do the most hazardous tasks. By comparison, only one American soldier got executed for desertion, Eddie Slovik.

With all this said the SS and gestapo’s horrifying war crimes were deliberate and absolutely inexcusable in any way; you won’t find any of them on this blog.

“I was a good soldier. I see today that because of that, I was merely a good tool for an unbelievably criminal regime.” Heinz Otto Fausten. WWII German infantry veteran.

This quote is from an insightful article worth a read: A Son’s Quest For The Truth: The Last Battle of a German WWII Veteran

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