Land and Live in the Desert


During World War II many US Army Air Corps units were based in North Africa.  Crash landings in the desert were not uncommon, and could easily turn deadly even if the crew survived the crash.  As a result I doubt if many trainees slept through the training film Land and Live in the Desert (1944).

Published in: on March 9, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Land and Live in the Desert  
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Training Film For Spies



Perhaps the most unique training film produced by the United States during World War II.  The Office of Strategic Services, the World War II precursor of the CIA, produced the above video in 1944 to help train undercover agents going behind Axis lines.

Published in: on January 8, 2016 at 4:30 am  Comments Off on Training Film For Spies  
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Returning Soldiers: It’s Your America

The Army during World War II had training films for everything including demobilization.  This one, Returning Soldiers: It’s Your America, stars actor Arthur Kennedy who spent his war making training films for the Army Air Corps.  This film told the returning troops an essential truth:  they were coming back different men.  It also reminded them why they had gone through this life changing experience:  America.  Unusually well done for a training film, and I appreciated the device of using a Lincoln penny to convey the meaning of America to the soldier in the film.


At the end of his harrowing combat memoir, aptly entitled To Hell and Back, Audie Murphy, the most decorated US soldier in World War II I think spoke for a lot of combat veterans when he ended with these lines (They are made more poignant because Murphy would continue to have nightmares about the War for the rest of his life.): (more…)

Published in: on July 9, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Returning Soldiers: It’s Your America  
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Booby Traps


During World War II, GI’s would watch a lot of training films, and most of them would often cure any insomnia that viewers might be suffering from.  However, the Private Snafu shorts were different.  Snafu, a term familiar to anyone who has even been in the Army, was the ultimate Army foul up who taught by negative example.  The production values were quite good, with Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, lending his talents, and dialogue sometimes being written by Theodore Geisl, who went on to post war fame as Dr. Seuss.

The above video is Booby Traps (1944).  Both the Germans and the Japanese made extensive use of booby traps. Although the educational value of the film is nil as to actual booby traps, it did hammer home the basic message of being alert, which probably did serve to keep a few GI’s alive, who might have snored through a less entertaining presentation of that essential precaution.

Published in: on August 20, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Booby Traps  
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The Rear Gunner

An interesting training film made by Warner Brothers for the United States Army Air Corps in 1943.  Burgess Meredith has the feature role as the tail gunner in training.  Ronald Reagan is in a supporting role as the pilot of the B-17.  Both of them were Lieutenants in the Army Air Corps and both would complete their service as Captains.  A cut above the usual training films of the period

Kill or Be Killed

An Army training film teaching recruits some blunt and sad truths about war summed up in General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s aphorism:  “War means fightin’ and fightin’ means killin’.”  This message was more artistically conveyed in this film: (more…)

Published in: on August 31, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments (4)  
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How to Fly a B-26

During World War II the Armed Services made constant use of films for training purposes.  Hundreds of such films were produced.  I was surprised that the films included such complicated tasks as flying a B-26, but the above video is proof that such films were produced.

Published in: on August 15, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on How to Fly a B-26  
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Ronald Reagan on How to Recognize a Zero

Captain Ronald Reagan, United States Army, spent World War 2 making training films for the United States Army Air Corps.  Reagan had been an officer in the Army Reserve since 1937.  His bad eyesight qualified him for stateside duty only, and the Army put his skills as an actor to good use.  Over 16 million men and women served in the US Armed Forces during the War, and training films were an essential technique in training huge numbers of civilians quickly.  Reagan would joke about his military service in later years, but he did the work assigned to him and did it well, and the Army can ask nothing more from any of its troops.

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Ronald Reagan on How to Recognize a Zero  
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