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Depression and Carnival Glass for the World War Two Reenactor

Notes on Depression and Carnival Glass for the World War Two Reenactor

Cut Glass (1880-mid 1910s)

Is produced by hand-cutting glass. Cut glass used to contain heavy amounts of lead and to get the right designs glass-makers would add crystal or “flint” to it. Cut glass is used primarily for tableware and comes in many styles. Most glassware was signed with the name of the producer, etched into the glass. Reproductions of cut-glass tend to have signatures embossed.

Carnival Glass (1900s-1930)

Carnival Glass is pressed glassware produced in the 1900s-1930. The glass came in many colors including brights (like red, green, blue, purple, etc.) and pastel colors (like clear, white, smoke, lavender, and opalescent). The pastel colors have less of a finish. Red is the most highly collectible color as it required fair amounts of gold oxides to produce it. Marigold is the most widely available color. When the depression hit and glass styles changed producers of carnival glass gave it away to…carnivals as prizes.

It was sprayed with a metallic finish that made it look oily in nature. Five companies produced the majority of it in the US.
1. Fenton Art Glass Co. of Williamstown WV
2. Imperial Glass Corporation of Bellaire, OH
3. Millersburg Glass Company of Millersburg, OH
4. Northwood Glass Company of Wheeling, WV
5. Dugan Glass Company of Indiana, PA

Depression Glass (1920s-1930s extending to 1970s):

Cheaply produced colored glassware as automation and industrialization finally caught up to glassmaking. This glassware was marketed for middle-income and working-class Americans. This glassware came with purchases from stores or mail-order catalogs. Glassware was of any kind including bowls, shakers, dishes (all kinds), creamers, sugars, vases, jars, pitchers, measuring cups etc. Pink is the most common glass color, followed by Green and Amber. The rarer Depression glass colors are red, black, cobalt blue, and yellow. The rarest types of Depression Glass are the ones that incorporate glass bases for citrus juices (reamers).

Fiestaware (1936 to 1970)

Fiestaware is brightly colored pottery. It was produced from 1936 to 1973. It was re-started in 1986. Collectors seek the original colors: Red, Yellow, Cobalt, Light-Green, Ivory, Turquoise. Fiesta Red was pulled from the market in 1943 as it used uranium to help create its color and the uranium was needed for the war effort. Chartreuse(gray and rose-colored) was added as a color scheme in the 1950s and earthy tones arrived by the 1970s. The rarest color is medium green.

Glass Companies

Cambridge Glass Company of Cambridge, OH:

Produced glass from the early 1900s-1950s. Focused mostly on crystal or cut glass. Can find designs of stars, swirls, squares, etc. Produced mostly bowls, plates, tumblers, and cocktail glasses. Most collectible of Cambridge Glass are the Square Series produced shortly before it went out of business. Would eventually be bought by Imperial Glass.

Imperial Glass: 

This company began reproducing Carnival glass in the 1960s using some of the original molds, however, the difference between period-correct carnival glass and Imperial Glass Reproductions is that the new glass is marked IG at the bottom.

Fenton Glass:

Produced Carnival and then Depression glass. Before 1970 most Fenton glass had a sticker. If no sticker look for an absence of the pontil mark (typically seen as a dimple, chipped-looking section, or lumpy bump that indicates the punty rod was detached from the glass as it was cooling). Fenton Glass used a different kind of punty rod that left clean breaks. After 1970, Fenton glass will mark the piece of an “F” or “Fenton” somewhere on the item

Heisey Glass (1860s-1957):

Produced Art Glass, Cut-Glass, and Carnival Glass. The symbol is an “H” inside a diamond.

Libbey Glass:

Produced all kinds of glassware but not much of Carnival or Depression. Glass marked with the word “Libbey”

Westmoreland Glass (1890-1985):

Produced some carnival and depression but mainly milk glass. Early Westermoreland marks were a “W” within what appears to be an upside-down lampshade. The intertwined “W” and “G” were not developed until 1949. In 1983, all Westmoreland glass was marked “Westmoreland.”

Others include:

Anchor-Hocking and Fire King:
Jeannette Glass Company
Liberty Works
MacBeth-Evans Glass Company
US Glass Company
Hazel Atlas Company
Indiana Glass Company
Fostoria Glass Company
Federal Glass Company
Paden City Glass Company
McKee Glass Company
New Martinsville
L.E. Smith Company
Lancaster Glass Company
US Company (?)
Belmont Tumbler Company
Dell Glass
Diamond Glass-ware Company
Homer-Laughlin China Company-Fiesta Ware


1.Florence, Gene.1999. The Pocket Guide to Depression Glass and More: 1920s-1960s. 11th Ed. Collector Books. This is a Good source that puts pictures with the different pattern types.
2. Pickvet, Mark. 1996. Collecting Glassware. Alliance Publishers. This is a general overview of glass history, glass styles, glass companies.

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Zippos in World War Two

Zippo is in the War

Below are some scanned copies and information related to Zippos in World War two for the reenactors.

Zippo Timeline: 1932-1950

The two pdfs below outline a general progression of Zippo from 1932 to 1950, including the famed black crackle zippo of the World War Two Era.

pg 47_Zippo timeline Part 1

pg 48_Zippo Timeline Part 2

Zippo Lighters: 1933-1941

The following pdfs show a specific progression of Zippo lighters from 1933 to early 1941.

pg 55: From 1933 to 1934

pg 56: From 1935 to 1941

pg 89: From 1940 to 1941

Zippo Ads

Zippo also had wartime ads to promote Zippos

pg 140 Zippo WW2 Ads

pg 170 zippo ad

Zippo: Metal Change Announcement

Here is the message Zippo had which announced the change to the black crackle

pg 178 WW2 Zippo metal change

Zippo: 1941-Early 1950s

The next pdf shows a specific progression from 1941 to the early 1950s.

pg 57: From 1943 to 1953

Zippo: Reproduction

In the 1990s, there was a market for nostalgia and Zippo manufactured Zippos in the same style as the 1930s and 1940s

pg 82_1933 Replica

Zippo: Packaging

The final pdf shows the change in packaging throughout the years

pg 187 Zippo package changes

Zippo: Specific Models 1932-1954

Below are some specific details and analysis of the Zippo from 1932 to 1954


pg 17

1932 Model

pg 18

pg 19

1933 Model

pg 20

pg 21

Mid 1933 and 1935 Model

pg 22

1936 Outside Hinge Model

pg 23

1936 to 1939 Models

pg 24

pg 25

pg 26

pg 27

1940 to 1941 Models no-diagonals

pg 28

pg 29

pg 30

1940 to 1941 Models diagonals

pg 31

pg 32

pg 33

pg 34

1941 Steel Case and 1942 Black Crackle

pg 35

pg 36

1943-1945 Black Crackle

pg 76


pg 77


pg 141: Flint Dispensers

pg 142: Lighter Fluid Bottles

pg 143: Wick Displays


Zippo: The Great American Lighter by David Poore 1997 Schiffer Publishing Ltd.

If you like this article you may also like:

Radios for World War Two Reenactments

Voting in World War Two

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WW2 Red Cross Reproduction Knitting Patterns

WW2 Red Cross Knitting Patterns

WW2 Red Cross Reproduction Knitting Patterns for WW2 Reenactors

During World War I and again during World War II, the American Red Cross launched nationwide, volunteer-driven knitting campaigns to supply soldiers and war refugees with warm clothing. These volunteer knitters belonged to a Red Cross unit called the Production Corps that also produced bandages and sewn garments (such as pajamas) for veterans and civilian hospitals.

Military knitting patterns were designed to be compatible with soldiers’ and sailors’ uniforms and were required to be knitted in olive drab or navy blue. Production Corps volunteers would also knit from patterns designed for convalescing soldiers, such as the “Walking Cast Toe Sock,” the “Cap for the Bandaged Head” and the “Man’s Coat Sweater.”

The chart below shows some different patterns for knitting. The Wristlets pattern comes courtesy of the Estate of Ray and Anita Sexton, Oneida, TN (*).

Wristlets*Army Navy Helmet (png file)Man’s Sock Medium Type 2 (zip file)Cap Muffler (png file)
AfghanChild’s Knitted SuitChild’s Sweater Brooks TypeChild’s Sweater Toddler Pack
GlovesMan’s Coat SweaterMan’s Socks Type 1Man’s V-Neck Sweater, Sleeveless
Muffler Type 1Navy Iceland SweaterWatch Cap
Woman’s V-Neck Cardigan

During World War II, the Red Cross Production Corps was by far the most popular unit with over 3.5 million members, spread throughout 3,304 chapters. Unlike other volunteer jobs, there was no prerequisite training, and recruitment and task assignments were accomplished quickly. The women, and in some cases the men, that volunteered enjoyed the camaraderie and the fact that workrooms were set up not only at chapter buildings, but also at schools, churches, and other public or private facilities for their convenience.

From 1939 to 1946 the volunteers of the Production Corps made: 63,552,649 garments for civilians and the military 1,403,158 infant garments 31,237,900 kit bags containing cigarettes, playing cards, soap etc. 2,481,951,637 surgical dressings Production Corps volunteers were broken down into committees organized by task. They included surgical dressings, sewing, and knitting.

Detailed instructions, patterns, and supplies were issued by the National Headquarters to chapters and each was assigned a quota to fill. Chapters had volunteers in charge of inspection, planning and supplies, workrooms and equipment, instruction, and packing and shipping

Practical, Warm Hand Knits for Service Men WW2 Red Cross Knitting Patterns

This is another Red Cross knitting pattern. The booklet is Volume 318, dated 1940. Below are some images from the booklet and external links which explain more about the patterns.

The links below are a digitized copy of the content found in the Red Cross knitting document, Warm Hand Knits for Service men. Read Me First: WWII Knitting FAQ

WWII Plain SocksWWII Hats and HelmetsWWII Mittens and GlovesWWII V-Neck Sweater
WWII TurtleneckWWII Sweater VestWWII Ear Muffs, Wristlets, Knee Caps, Muffler

Hand Knits for Service Men – 40 Garments for Men in the Armed Forces

This is a 26-page book that includes 40 different knitting patterns. It was copyrighted in 1944 by Book Productions Industries Inc and published by Ethel Evans.

Hand Knits for Service Men front page with solider resting in a bed. Background of page is yellow.

The book contains knitting patterns for:

  • Heavy Turtleneck with Sleeves
  • Army-Navy Pullover
  • Turtleneck Sleeveless Pullover
  • V-Neck Pullover
  • V-Neck Service Pullover
  • Service Pullover
  • Convalescent Sweater Jacket
  • Wheelchair Afghan
  • Knit Wheelchair Afghan
  • Navy Pattern Afghan
  • Cap Helmet
  • Balaclava Heavy Weight
  • Balaclava Light Weight
  • Watch Cap
  • Navy Gloves
  • Rifle Gloves
  • Steel Helmet
  • Regulation Helmet
  • Cap
  • Army Mitts
  • Army Gloves
  • Officers Navy Gloves
  • Wristlets
  • Trigger Gloves
  • Wristlet with Thumb
  • Knee Length Socks
  • Turtle Neck Tuck In
  • Navy Chest Protector
  • Navy Scarf
  • Slot Mitts
  • Air Force Ascot Scarf
  • Merchant Marine Rib Pattern Turtle Neck Sleeveless Pullover
  • Hospital Bed Socks

Hand Knits for Servicemen can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Ethel Evans is actually the pen name of Ethel Rodman. She is a minor celebrity in the world of knitting and crocheting, as she published several authoritative books in this manner. Her brother is Edward Ray Goetz, a Hollywood producer, songwriter, and musician, who at one time was married to actress Irene Bordoni.

Ethel’s sister was Dorothy Goetz who at one time was married to Irving Berlin. Ethel and her sister are buried with their parents in Buffalo’s Forest Lawn Cemetery (section 9, Lot 282).

Ethel Rodman Obituary

Now, oddly, she has a connection to UFOs. She witnessed a UFO incident called “Incident 88” or “Hackensack Event” because it was reported on Aug 3rd, 1947 in Hackensack, NJ. She sent letters and photos to the Air Force for about a year but stopped near the end of 1948. Incident 88 has a redacted archived copy that you can see.

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WW2 Reproduction Currency

Below is a listing of WW2 reproduction currency of Russia, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan. The files are all .pdf and may be printed off and used at reenactments.

Some WW2 reproduction currency files below have two files, a front, and a back. They are designed to be printed on either a two-sided copier or printed once and then fed back into the printer in the opposite direction so the sides line up.

Others have only a single side. These were also designed to be flipped and fed back into the printer.


ReichspfenningReichspfennnig – 5Reichspfennig – 10
Reichsmark – FrontReichsmark – BackReichsmarks – 50 – FrontReichsmarks – 50 – Back
Mark – SmallMark – MediumMark – 10 – FrontMark – 10 – Back
Newmark – 10 – FrontNewmark – 10 – BackNewmark – 20 – FrontNewmark – 20 – Back
Newmark – 50 – FrontNewmark – 50 – BackNewmark – 100 – FrontNewmark – 100 – Back

The Netherlands

Guilders – Small – FrontGuilders – Small – BackGuilders – Large – FrontGuilders – Large – Back


Franc – SmallFranc – Large – FrontFranc – Large – Back


Rubels – FrontRubels – BackLenin


Lire – SmallLire – Large – FrontLire – Large – Back


Yen – SmallYen – 510 – FrontYen – 510 – Back
Yen – Large – FrontYen – Large – Back
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WW2 American Red Cross Recipes

WW2 American Red Cross Recipes

WW2 American Red Cross Recipes

A selection of WW2 American Red Cross Recipes for the World War Two Reenactor.

“Red Cross records indicate the organization purchased enough flour between 1939 and 1946 to make 1.6 billion doughnuts. Red Cross women were serving doughnuts at the rate of 400 per minute during the years 1944-1946.

Red Cross Doughnuts

1.5 cups of sifted flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. butter or substitute, melted
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup sour milk (buttermilk)
1 egg, well beaten

Combine half of the flour with soda, salt, and ginger. Combine egg, molasses, sour milk, and melted butter or substitute. Blend with flour mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Add remaining flour to make dough of sufficient body to be rolled. Roll on floured board, to the thickness of 1/4inch. Cut with doughnut cutter. Fry in deep hot fat (360 degrees) until lightly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on brown paper.”

Christmas Packages

Shipping the WW2 American Red Cross Recipes such as in a package required following special guidelines.

“Anyone hoping to send a package overseas was advised to mail early–anytime from Sept 15 through Oct 15. The post office listed a series of guidelines for those mailing packages

‘…The weight limit is 5 pounds. Parcels may not be more than 15inches in length and 36inches in length and girth combined.’ ” Later on, a gift container was manufactured (sorry no picture) it measured 10 by 6 by 4 inches. (119)

“We searched for small compact items that packed well and could survive being shipped thousands of miles. We collected stationery, pencils, airmail stamps, paperback books, Western and detective magazines, canned foods, candy bars, chewing gum, fruit-flavored powdered drinks, dried packaged fruit such as raisins, dates, and prunes, hometown newspapers, Readers Digests, playing cards, heavy socks, and of course snapshots of home folks were especially welcome” (120)

“Packing Cookies took special care. Even though cookies were wrapped and rewrapped in layers of shredded waxed paper or tissue, and then tucked inside tin boxes, they still often arrived in bits and pieces. Not many complained, though. Instead, they shared the contents of their Christmas boxes with buddies not so fortunate” (121)

Soft Oatmeal Cookies (p.121)

1 cup raisins and 1/2 cup water. Cook until hot.

Simmer 10-105 minutes. In a bowl add the following and cream well:

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup shorting (margarine is ok)

1/2 tsp. salt

Add: 2 eggs, beaten well

Mix in: 2 cups flour

Add 1/2 cup nuts, chopped

1/2 cup coconut

2 cups oatmeal

1 tsp vanilla

Drain the raisins, save the liquid and measure 5 T. raisin liquid. If there is not enough juice, add water to make 5 T. Dissolve 1 tsp. baking soda in the juice. Add the cookie batter and stir in the raisins last. Drop by tsp. on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees, 12 to 15 minutes.

Wartime Cookies

1 beaten egg

2 cups molasses

3/4 cup melted shorting

1 cup warm milk

2 T. baking soda; dissolve in 2 T. warm water

5 cups flour

2 tsp. cinnamon

1.5 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ginger

Add ingredients in the above order, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Be sure to stir in the flour (sifted with other dry ingredients) a little at a time. Drop on a greased baking sheet with a teaspoon and bake at 375 degrees until lightly browned.


1/2 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

3 T. cocoa

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Mix well, put in a greased 9×9 cake pan. Bake at 350 Degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Frost when cool.

Serviceman Special Candy

2 cups sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup cream

1lb marshmallows

1 T. butter

1 cup nuts

1.5 squares bittersweet chocolate

3 cups graham cracker crumbs

Combine sugar, cream, butter, chocolate, and vanilla. Cook to softball stage. Remove from fire and stir in remaining ingredients. Spoon into buttered pan. Press firm and cut into squares.

Victory Muffins (p.85)

2 T. shortening

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

1 cup All-Bran

1 cup sifted flour

2 1/2 TSB. baking powder

1/2 TSB. salt

DIRECTIONS: Beat shortening and egg together until well blended. Add All-Bran and milk and let stand for at least 20 minutes. (This may be done in the evening, adding dry ingredients in the morning.) Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add to the first mixture, stirring only until liquid and dry ingredients are combined. Fill greased muffin pans 2/3 full. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven. For small muffins, bake 25minutes; for large muffins, bake 30 minutes. Makes 12 small or 8 large muffins.

Raisin Honey Sandwiches (p.162)

1 cup raisins, chopped

1/8 TSB. salt

1 T. mayonnaise or salad dressing

1/4 cup nuts, chopped

1 1/3 T. lemon juice

3 T honey

DIRECTIONS: Combine ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Use as filling between thin buttered slices of either brown or white bread.

Military Punch

2 cups boiling water

1 to 3 cups lemon juice

1 cup sugar

1 T. rum extract

2 cups cold strong tea

1 large bottle of ginger ale

1 cup orange juice


Boil water and sugar for 5 minutes. After it has cooled, add orange juice, lemon juice, extract, and tea. Add ginger ale and ice and serve.

Halloween Cider Punch

2 cups pineapple juice

1 cup lemon juice

1 cup orange juice

Lemon rind


2 Quarts cider

2 cups strong tea

2 quarts ginger ale

Orange rind

Mix fruit juices and orange and lemon rind, cut into pieces. Add cider and tea and put in a large punch bowl. Just before serving, add ginger ale and ice. Serves 65-70. A sugar syrup may be added.

V Loaf (p.63)

2 cups cooked rice

1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs

1/2 cup chopped nut meats

1 cup cooked tomatoes

1 egg

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

2 T. green pepper chopped

4 t. melted butter or margarine

1 small onion, chopped

DIRECTIONS: Mix all together to form a loaf. Bake in a greased loaf pan in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Cover with mashed potatoes put back in the oven to brown. Serve with tomato sauce. This recipe defies detection as a substitute meatloaf and is very good.

Mr. John Burger (p. 24)

1 pound hamburger

1/2 tsp horseradish mustard

1 egg

Small onion, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Mix well and spread on bread slices. Makes about 9 slices. Broil until brown–about 9 minutes.

Red Cross POW Packages

” In the beginning of the war commercial firms put together these packages. Later on, the Red Cross volunteers took over [. . .] [t]hey assembled monthly packages for French, Polish and other allied prisoners [. . .] [a]long with the food packages, clothing, shoes comfort articles and medical supplies were also sent” (79 Edson).

The packages measured “10 inches square and 4.5 inches deep and weighed exactly 11 pounds, as prescribed by the German postal regulations. Red Cross nutrition experts had put together a list of items determined as most effectively supplementing prison camp diet. The boxes contained a variety of items that may have included:

A five-ounce box of raisins; a half-pound of American cheese; one pound can of powdered milk; 12 ounces of corned beef from Argentina; a 6 ounce can of ‘Brunch’ (Pork Luncheon Meat) which consisted of chopped pork, salt, water, sugar, and sodium nitrate; a 2 ounce can of coffee; a 7 ounce can of tuna fish; a half-pound box of sugar cubes; a 6 ounce box of army K2 biscuits; four bars of guest size toilet soap; one pound can of oleomargarine; four Hershey chocolate bars; and a can of pate (Liver Paste) which was a mixture of milk, chopped pork livers, pork fat, onions, oats, soy, grits, whole wheat, yeast, defatted wheat germ, and hydrolyzed plant protein.


Red Cross Parcels Wikipedia Link

The Red Cross also sent seeds and tools, along with cookbooks to the prison of war camps, where prisoners were sometimes allowed to cultivate vegetable gardens.

Many times a word from home did more good than anything. The ‘Red Cross News.’ a publication containing favorite comics, news items, sports news, and special articles was distributed to the prisoners of war on a regular basis” (79).

WW2 American Red Cross Recipes Source

Edson, Laurie J., “American Red Cross 50th Anniversary World War Two Cookbook.” Cedar Falls, IA,  Woolverton Publishing Company. 1993. Amazon link here

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World War II Combat Lessons and Army Talks

Combat Lessons and Army Talks

Army Talks

Army Talks was a series of short works published for GIs in the European theater of World War II “to help them become better-informed men and women and therefore better soldiers.”

Army Talks began publication in 1943, and continued through the end of the war in Europe. Issues were usually published on a weekly or biweekly basis, and each had its own title and topic. The pamphlets contained articles, combat tips, proclamations, maps, drawings, cartoons, news, updates, and other general information.

Some links download from this site while other links go to my dropbox account. If DropBox gives you errors or cannot connect, please try clearing your browser’s cache, and cookies and disable any third-party plugins (such as adblocker or Privacy Badger) as they may interfere with the ability of DropBox to render the pdfs. Special thanks to the 90th ID for making some of these available.

If you would like purchase copies you can do so through Wartime Press. I’m not sure if the copies are exact reproductions. If they are, it would be very neat to see these in the field.

Volume I: Army Talks

Vol I. No. 10, Battle of Atlantic 12-01-1943

Volume II: Army Talks

 Vol. II, No 2, Two Years of War (12 Jan. 1944)   Vol. II, No 5, The Good General (2 Feb. 1944)
  Vol. II, No 8, France (23 Feb. 1944)  
Vol II No. 12, The Army is quite a thing, 3-22-1944
Vol. II, No 15, Teamwork (12 Apr. 1944)Vol. II, No 16, Brains, Guts and Concrete (19 Apr. 1944) Vol. II, No 17, Queen of Battle (26 Apr. 1944)  
    Vol. II, No 25, See yourself as Jerry sees you! (21 Jun. 1944)
 Vol II No. 27 July 1944 Notes from Normandy Vol. II No. 29 Air Power, 7-19-1944Vol. II, No 30, Seven against the World! (26 Jul. 1944)
 Vol II No 32 Aug 1944 What You Should Know about FranceVol. II No. 33, Red Army Man,8-16-1944  
 Vol. II No 37 Sept 1944: Combat Medicine Vol II No. 39 Sept. 1944: What German POWs Say About YouVol II No 40 Oct 1944: What to do with Germany
 Vol II No. 42 1944-04-19: China 7 years at WarVol II No. 43 Nov 1944: What to do with War Criminals  Vol. II, No 45, Blueprint for WWIII (2 Dec. 1944)

Volume III: Army Talks

Vol. III, No 1, The Army in Europe (13 Jan. 1945) Vol. III, No 3, How to blunt a blitzkrieg (27 Jan. 1945)  Vol. III, No 5, How to keep house in a foxhole (10 Feb. 1945)
 Vol III No. 7 Feb 1945: We Came as Conquers Vol. III, No 9, Homefront USA and Total War (17 Mar. 1945) 
Vol. III, No 11, Operation Jackson (31 Mar. 1945)    

Combat Lessons

The Rank and file in combat, What they are doing, How they are doing it. The suggestions in Combat Lessons are drawn from the experience of the World War II American Soldier in both Europe and the Pacific.

Volume 1 Volume 2Volume 3Volume 4Volume 5
Volume 6 Volume 7Volume 8Volume 934th Infantry Division: Lessons Learned in Combat Sept 1944
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Cameras for the World War II Reenactor

Cameras for the World War II Reenactor

This article was written by a friend of mine Corey Hodgson, reprinted as permitted. If you have any specific questions you may contact him:, with the subject line “GI camera guide”. You may also download a copy of this article in a pdf format here.

The following guide is an attempt to inform WWII reenactors, portraying typical US soldier in Europe. While the guide can be used for those portraying infantry and Marines in various other parts of the global conflict, be sure to research what cameras would be available to a soldier (for example: a Leica or other German made cameras would be next to impossible to obtain for a Marine on Tarawa).

This guide is not meant to be a guide for those wishing to portray a War Correspondent or a member of the United States Signal Corps. While some did choose to use 35mm and 120mm cameras (Like Robert Capa, who chose to use Leica, Contax, and Rollei branded cameras throughout his time in the Mediterranean and European Theater of Operations), the primary choice for the Signal Corps was the trusted Graflex Anniversary Speed Graphic, with its massive 4×5 negative. Please research your specific impression before purchasing any cameras, as you can easily spend a great deal on something you cannot (or rather should not) use.

Cameras we obtained in three major ways: Gifted to the soldier, purchased by the soldier, and stolen by the soldier.


A twin lens reflex is a camera that has two lenses, stacked one above the other, that allows the user to focus using the top one, and expose a 6x6cm negative on 120mm film. The Rollei has, and still is, a rather expensive camera. The build quality is above average, being created for professionals, most lasting longer than the original owners themselves. Robert Capa was known to use a Rolleiflex “Old Standard” (made before 1939) during his WWII travels.

Appropriate for use would be the Rolleiflex Original, Standard, New Standard, Baby 4×4 (all pre-war models made from 1931-1943) Automat Model 1, and Automat Model 2. Also appropriate would be the cheaper entry level Rolleicord, any models manufactured between 1933 and 1949 (The Models Ia Type 3 and IIc were both manufactured through the war and continued for a few years after the war).

A word of warning though, the average GI attempted to reduce weight as often as possible, and a Rollei TLR is not the smallest or lightest camera available. Therefore I highly recommend that you avoid taking this camera in the field, instead using it as a “pre-invasion” camp camera. These cameras would have also been very expensive, costing far more than the average GI could afford.

A cheaper alternative would be the Ciroflex Model A, manufactured in Detroit, Michigan prior to the war and then in Delaware, Ohio during the war. Only the Model A was made during the war. Also available would be the Primarflex I made in Germany prior to the war.

For more information on Rolleiflex cameras and models:
For more information on Rolleicord cameras and models:

Original (New and Old Standard made between 1932-1941) Rolleiflex cameras look like this:

Rolleiflex Camera
Rolleiflex Camera

While Rolleiflex Automats (Models 1 and 2 made between 1937 – 1945) look like this:

Rolleiflex Automats
Rolleiflex Automats


Just as it is today, the Leica brand was one that was known world wide for quality and an enormous price tag. There are two types of Leica cameras to look at: With a Rangefinder and without a Rangefinder.

Unlike today’s cameras, which allow you see what you shoot before you shoot it, a rangefinder shows the photographer only what will be in focus. A rangefinder splits the image and when the photographer makes the two images overlap perfectly (creating one image on the item you wish to focus on), the focus is set and the picture can be taken. Without a rangefinder, the photographer has to either know or guess the distance between the camera and the subject.

Leica cameras load from the bottom, and I would highly suggest you do independent reading on cutting and loading film for any Leica or Leica copy (the Soviet made Zorki and FED cameras) as the film leader must be cut to load film into vintage Leicas.

Acceptable models for use are Leica I, Ic, IIc, IIIa, IIIb, and IIIc. Avoid all gold versions, or ones marked with Luftwaffe markings (and other Nazi markings on the top). 9 out of 10 times, these cameras are going to be fakes and while they might be mechanically sound – they usually aren’t due to them being bastardized Soviet copies (A Soviet Copy of a German camera, made to look like a German camera).

Leica cameras are relatively expensive, and again, the average GI would not have ordinary access to any of the cameras – unless they stole them or found them.

Soviet models, that would be acceptable for just playing around with, include any of the FED 1’s (not the 2, 3, 4 or 5!) and the Zorki 1 and 2.

For more information on Leica Cameras: For More Information on Soviet Leica copies:

A typical Leica I:

Leica I
Leica I

A typical Leica IIIc:

Leica IIIc
Leica IIIc


Made in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Argus A and Argus C3 popularized the 35mm format in the United States. These cameras were relatively inexpensive for consumers to purchase, and were very common.
The cameras take 35mm film, are built like bricks (the C3 was, and still is, affectionately named “The Brick”), and are very durable. These would be more common amongst the average Joe. For more information on the Argus:

Typical Argus A:

Argus A
Argus A

Typical Argus C3:

Argus C3
Argus C3


Kodak produced many inexpensive cameras, made to encourage everyone to enjoy photography (and purchase the film that Kodak produced). Cameras were manufactured in two primary locations: The Rochester, New York factory, and the Kodak AG factory in Stuttgart Germany.

Acceptable Models: Kodak 35, Kodak 35 RF (not very common due to the $48 USD pricetag – $700 USD in 2007), PH 324 (Very rare and not suggested because of that. Due to the US government’s contract with Kodak, the PH 324 cameras were collected and bulldozed as to not flood the commercial market), Retina I (Types 117, 118, 119, 126, 141, 143, 148, 149, 167), and Retina II (Types 122 and 142).
Retina cameras were made by Kodak AG in Germany, and after 1941, the production ceased for the remainder of the Second World War.

For More information on the Kodak Retina I:
For more information on the Kodak Retina II:
For More information on the Kodak 35:
For more information on the Kodak 35RF:

Typical Kodak Retina I Type 126:

Kodak Retina I Type 126
Kodak Retina I Type 126

Typical Kodak 35:

Kodak 35
Kodak 35

Typical Kodak 35 RF:

Kodak 35 RF
Kodak 35 RF

Typical Kodak Retina II Type 122:

Kodak Retina II Type 122
Kodak Retina II Type 122


On the success of Leica, another German company (Zeiss Ikon) created the Contax I to compete with Leica. These high-end models were known for their wonderful focusing abilities, a removable back for loading film, a quick and reliable brass shutter, and a new bayonet mount lens system (as opposed to Leica’s screw mount lens system).

There are three acceptable models for the time period: The Contax I, II and III. The III has a selenium light meter on the top to calculate exposures with. While this feature was revolutionary at the cameras creation in 1936, today this feature is at best, barely accurate. It is best to use a different form of metering for your exposures, as over time the selenium cells have grown to be less accurate than at their creation. After the war, Contax began production in West Germany of the Contax IIa and IIIa. These cameras are also acceptable for use as they are hard to distinguish between the pre-war models (the rangefinder window is smaller, but these cameras are still recommended over the Soviet Copies).

These cameras would not be common amongst the average GI, instead being common in the hands of professional photojournalists like Robert Capa.

There are Soviet copies of the Contax II & III, as the Soviets had taken the machinery from the factory and brought them back home as war spoils – in fact, the Soviets brought back not only the machinery used to make the Contax cameras, but they brought back ALL the parts the remained. This actually resulted in the first batch of Kiev II cameras having the Contax logo on the inside – with the Soviet KIEV printed on the front. Models that are suggested are the Kiev II and the Kiev III. The Kiev 4 features a different appearance and it is generally not suggested you purchase one for reenacting. The author has used the Kiev II in reenacting previously, and while the camera performed well, the KIEV print on the front stood out rather well. Soviet copies should be avoided if you are looking for a 100% authentic impression.

For more information on Contax Cameras:
For information on Soviet Copies:

Typical Contax I:

Contax I
Contax I

Typical Contax II:

Contax II
Contax II

Typical Contax III:

Contax III
Contax III

Zeiss Ikon

In Germany the two major producers of optics and camera equipment were Zeiss and Leica. Zeiss Ikon was the product of four major German camera companies in 1926. Known for innovation, quality, and for their excellent medium format cameras, Zeiss Ikon cameras were fairly common – in the authors view they were along the lines of Kodak in America.

Zeiss Ikon produced many 120mm folders, including the Nettar, Ikonta, and Super Ikonta (an Ikonta folder with a coupled rangefinder). Acceptable models for the use by reenactors include the Nettel, Super Nettel I & II, Nettax, Nettar (510, 510/2, 515, 515/2 and 515/16), Ikonta (A, B, and C models that begin with 520 or 521), and Super Ikonta (A, B, and C). For specific information on the many models, please do research on Camerapedia or on Pacific Rim Camera.

For more information on Zeis Ikon:
For More information on Ikonta and Super Ikonta cameras:

Typical Super Ikonta B 530-16:

Super Ikonta B 530-16
Super Ikonta B 530-16

Typical Ikonta 520 Series:

Ikonta 520 Series
Ikonta 520 Series

Typical Super Ikonta A 530:

Super Ikonta A 530
Super Ikonta A 530

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Armed Forces Edition Books

Armed Forces Edition Books: A Reenactor’s Perspective and Analysis

One of things I like to do at reenactments is read. Once, after digging a slit trench with a fellow reenactor, I dug out a book I had on 1940s science from my pack and began to read it. We soon broke out into a wonderful discussion on the merits of of what-was-then 1940s science and technology. Fortunately, the Germans attacked way down at the other end of the line.

For the bibliophile reenactor there was not many options in terms of reading material.
You can use period printed books such as Purple Heart Valley, Guadalcanal Diary, or any other WW2 era book. However, you run the risk of damaging these books. Indeed, the paper they are made with is of a lighter material (due to a War Production Board ruling in 1944) and more prone to tearing.

WW2 Printed Books
WW2 Printed Books. BAD do not take into the field!

Original magazines such as Yank or Saturday Evening Post are also an option. Again, same problem. These were printed on cheap and non-durable newsprint. Therefore, they are not designed to last and taking them out in the field is asking for trouble though soldiers at the time did use it for a variety of shall-we-say “hygiene solutions”. Reenactors have access to more modern cleanliness solutions.

1944-1945: Yank and Newsweek
1944-1945: Yank and Newsweek. BAD do not take into the field

For the soldier who had access to travel material or likes to sing there are city guides and army song books. Again same problem. All original, all cheaply printed, all designed not to last.

WW2 Soldiers City Guide Florence
WW2 Soldiers City Guide Florence. BAD to take into the field! GOOD to take on leave to Florence!

WW2 Army Song Book
WW2 Army Song Book. BAD, singing in the field attracts Germans

Alternatively, you could brush up on your language skills. Though you run into the same problem. Cheap books, not durable, and very limited copies produced compared to others.

WW2 Language Books
WW2 Language books:
Top-Left to bottom-right-
Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Persian, French, German

Finally, one could read your copy of FM 21-100 for the dozenths time. Though, this manual was printed by the millions and there enough copies around that you might actually be able to take this into the field, destroy it, and be able to find another one cheaply.

FM 21-100
Yay! FM 21-100 great late night reading material…

However, there are some reenactors who do want to take out original copies to trash in the mud, dirt, and rain. Indeed, some individuals have reproduced newspapers and magazines but those are very costly to print especially in small numbers.

When I attend a reenactment I bring a copy of of FM 21-100 and some “trashed” magazines. These are magazines that have covers ripped off, pages missing, and are in a general state of disrepair. In other words, perfect for getting destroyed. I rationalize the possibility of destroying these artifacts of history as:

“They made millions of these magazines and enough are still around that preserving a WW2 magazine with a defect makes no sense when others can still be bought cheaply and in much better condition”

Trashed WW2 Mags
Trashed WW2 Magazines that I take into the field. Some have pages ripped out, covers missing, or are generally defective in someway that warrants risking destruction in the field.

Currently, there exists an option to buy inexpensive Armed Forces Edition/Armed Services Edition reproduction books to take out in the field. Much has been written about the history of these “pocket-sized books”(see links below) so I won’t dive too much into the history of the books.
NPR Story: By the Books: The Pocket-Size Editions that Kept Soldiers Reading
Book: When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II
Atlantic Monthly Article: Publishers Gave Away 122,951,031 Books During World War II
The Art of Manliness has a historical review of the books
Wikipedia has an article dedicated to it
From the Library of Congress Books in Action: The Armed Services Edition
Virginia University Special Collections Exhibit:  Books go to War
Listing of Armed Forces Edition Book Titles
Listing of Armed Forces Edition Book Authors
Related Publications of Interest including collectors guides
Saturday Evening Post, June 1945: “What the GI Reads”

Armed Services Edition
Armed Services Edition Examples

The current option that blends an economical advantage with historical accuracy are the books produced by The Legacy Project. The Legacy project is a non-profit that seeks to distribute stylized-Armed Forces Edition books to soldiers stationed overseas. Obtaining the books can be a bit tricky. I would suggest three places:
Shop Goodwill

I was able to find my copy: Man in the Arena on Amazon. The books prices can range anywhere between 8-14 dollars (without shipping). Compared to trashing a mint condition original book the price is worth it. The book looks like this:

 Legacy Project Armed Services Edition Book: Man in the Arena
Front Cover
Legacy Project Armed Services Edition Book: Man in the Arena

 Legacy Project Armed Services Edition Book: Man in the Arena
Inside Cover
Legacy Project Armed Services Edition Book: Man in the Arena

 Legacy Project Armed Services Edition Book: Man in the Arena
Legacy Project Armed Services Edition Book: Man in the Arena

Similarities between Original Armed Forces Edition and Legacy Project’s Armed Forces Edition
1. Hip-sized style still the same
2. Cheap pulp paper
3. Back of the book is similar
4. Similar in a side-by-side comparison
Note: The War Time Production Board limited the the margin of books to conserve materials and space. Books produced by the Legacy product do not need to adhere to such rulings and hence there books are longer and thinner.

Armed Forces Edition and Legacy Project Comparison
Front of Book
Armed Forces Edition and Legacy Project Comparison

Armed Forces Edition and Legacy Project Comparison
Back of Books
Armed Forces Edition and Legacy Project Comparison

Armed Forces Edition and Legacy Project Comparison
Armed Forces Edition and Legacy Project Comparison

Differences between Original Armed Forces Edition Books and Legacy Project’s Books

Note: The reason, I would guess, has more to do with modern printing costs and technology.
1. The Legacy Project Armed Forces edition books have a glossy cover. The original ones do not.
2. The size of the Legacy Project’s books are not 100% accurate when compared to originals.
3. Included in the Legacy Project’s books are facets of modern publishing such as Web address, modern printing dates, and modern addresses.
4. Originals had staples that kept the binding together. Staples were along the binding and either included the the books cover in the staple punch OR skipped the cover and started at the first interior page. The books cover would then be glued. The Legacy Project’s books lack the staple and it appears that the binding is glue only.
5. Original books included on the first interior page an outline of the books title in dotted, solid, or double-solid line.
6. Original books have a listing of other Armed Forces Editions on the back interior page.
7. Original books have an Armed Forces Edition statement on the back of the front cover.

Armed Forces Edition and Legacy Project Comparison
First Interior Page
Armed Forces Edition and Legacy Project Comparison. Note the Armed Forces Edition statement on the top book.

Armed Forces Edition and Legacy Project Comparison
Back Interior Page
Armed Forces Edition and Legacy Project Comparison. Note the listing of other Armed Forces Edition books.

As a reenactor I value historical accuracy but realize that we are not living in the past and must strike a balance between what is practical and what is ideal. The Legacy Project’s Armed Forces Editions look very good close-up and are within the unofficial reenactor rule of 3-feet. Though there are some things that can be done to help “de-farb” the book. More on that later.

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SCR-300 Radio for World War Two Reenactments

A collaborative effort between historical reenactors of how to use the SCR-300 Radio for World War Two Reenactments.

The SCR-300 Radio is a backpack (or manpacked) FM radio designed during WW2 as an inter-company or regiment radio. I purchased several in the late 1990s during the heyday of Cold War surplus sales.

SCR-300 Radio
SCR-300 Radio

Several years ago I worked with a buddy of mine to make available a resource that World War Two SCR-300 enthusiasts could use to analyze and learn about the radio. The article is posted on his website:


NOTES from TM 11-242 on the SCR-300 Wired Loops and Battery Case Catches  

The SCR-300 originally came with wired clips. This is according to TM 11-242, 1943. See below

SCR-300 / BC-1000 Original clips, TM 11-242, 1943.
SCR-300 / BC-1000 Original clips, TM 11-242, 1943.


A work order was made in Nov of 1944 for spring catches


Work order for Spring Catches for SCR300/BC1000 World War II Radio


This was then replaced with a New Latch Directive in Jan 1945. The wired loops would fail to hold down the clip so a springed catch was added.

New latch directive, Jan 1945