The YANK Page

YANK PATCH (15 K)    YANK, The Army Weekly, which published editions in every major theater of combat during World War II (and divided them still further: European, British, Mediterranean, Pacific, and Chine-Burma-India), was — along with the Stars and Stripes — a staple of GI reading material. It was written "by the men ... for the men in the service." The magazine was founded in May 1942 by the War Department's Army Service Forces with a unique mission: to distribute an Army newspaper that would be read by enlisted men and that would be staffed, written, and edited completely by enlisted men. Candid Army coverage, news from home, cartoons, and glamour-girl pinups made the magazine indispensable to GIs overseas. Over the next few months, check these pages for a complete history of the magazine, as well as an overview of its famous features, including cartoon characters like Hubert, Elmer, and Sad Sack, the ever-popular Mail Call, and the YANK Pinup Girl, among others. You'll meet the men who worked for YANK and covered the war from up close (those who wore the YANK correspondent's patch, above, into combat). You'll laugh along with the cartoons of the era that invariably sought to balance the horrors of war with the antics and predicaments of characters based on the average dogfaced GI. You'll see the beautiful starlets and models of the 1940s who graced the pages of YANK and undoubtedly ended up wallpapering Army barracks all over the world. You'll read stories about famous personalities of the day through interviews that kept GIs informed about who was who back home.

   According to Dave Richardson, writer for Combat Camera,
No publication had more readers among the 10 million members of the U.S. armed forces than YANK. And for good reason, because for the first time in military history enlisted men and women had in YANK a publication of their own, with all the reporting, writing, and editing done entirely by themselves (Stars and Stripes had commissioned officers on its editorial staff as well as GIs, and used civilian wire agencies). YANK began publication within six months ofthe Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor with a hastily assembled staff of GIs in an office on Manhattan's East 42nd Street. Before the war ended, YANK was publishing in 21 different places in every theater of operation and defense command around the world. At its peak, the magazine had 350 full-time staff members and 1,000 stringers, including cartoonists, poets, fiction writers, combat artists, and photographers.In appearance, YANK bore a close resemblance to today's Parade Magazine, the Sunday newspaper supplement, as well as to the picture magazines LIFE and Look. Like those civilian weeklies, it relied heavily on photographs, from its cover to a regular pinup photo in the back. Nowhere in YANK were photographs more important than in combat coverage of the war on every front. On page after page, photos embellished stories of the fighting, whether in France's hedgerows, in German cities, in Pacific island jungles, on the high seas, or in the air. Surprising as it may seem, YANK didn't have many GI staff photographers. Fewer than two dozen in war theaters around the world. But they were good ones, mostly drawn from the ranks of former newspaper photographers in uniform. And YANK's still cameramen had another big thing in common: a readiness to go wherever the fighting was to capture the GI story of the war. One of the best was Sgt. Dick Hanley, who left his civilian newsphoto beat on the streets of New York City for the Army; he ended up covering 12 different landings in the Southwest Pacific during MacArthur's island-hopping push north to Japan. He covered so many, in fact, that YANK ran a spread of Hanley's pictures called Technique of Invasion, showing every phase from assault landing to jungle lighting to securing the beachhead and bulldozing the airstrip. At one point, Hanley wanted to grab a head-on shot of some Marines during combat, but that meant getting between the Marines and a Japanese force. The Marines said, "Don't worry, buddy, we'll cover you." They did and he got his picture. "Actually," Hanley said later, "I was going to shoot it anyway." Another top YANK lensman in the Pacific was Pfc. George Burns, who in civilian life had served as a news photographer for the Albany Times Union. Burns also covered a number of assault landings, including those in the Marianas, Leyte, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. On Iwo Jima, Burns was standing alongside the Associated Press's Joe Rosenthal shooting pictures with him when Rosenthal took his famous shot of the flag-raising atop Mount Suribachi. Burns got the very same shot, but was the unlucky one; his pictures were delayed in the Signa1 Corps Laboratory, allowing Rosenthal to score a historic scoop.
SAD SACK (11 K)    In May 1942, Sad Sack, a cartoon creation of Sgt. George Baker, debuted in YANK and appeared every week until YANK was "formally discharged" from service at the end of 1945. The hapless draftee was the first permanent feature of the magazine.

   More popular than Sad Sack was the YANK Pinup Girl. They were movie stars and models, sometimes two to an issue, usually clad in swimwear or lingerie, and often with a come-hither look on their faces. Their images were coveted by GIs to decorate walls and the inside lids of footlockers, or simply to stuff into a wallet or barracks bags. Some YANK girls turned out to be some of Hollywood's biggest stars of the 1950s (photographed by David Conover, Marilyn Monroe appeared in the June 26, 1945 issue).

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