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Civil Affairs in World War II

This post will contain information on Civil Affairs in World War II and how to set-up a reenacting impression around it.

Field Manuals

FM 27-5 Civil Affairs: Dec 22nd 1943.


Civil Affairs in World War II:  A study from the Center for Strategic and International Studies

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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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Lesson Plans World History II SOL 12a

Lesson Plans World History II SOL 12a: Start of World War II, Events, Leaders

Standard: SOL 12a The student will demonstrate knowledge of the worldwide impact of World War II

Objective: explain economic and political causes, describing major events, and identifying leaders of the war, with emphasis on Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, George C. Marshall, Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Hideki Tojo, and Hirohito.

Essential Knowledge:
Economic and political causes of World War II
• Aggression by the totalitarian powers of Germany, Italy, Japan
• Nationalism
• Failures of the Treaty of Versailles
• Weakness of the League of Nations
• Appeasement
• Tendencies towards isolationism and pacifism in Europe and the United States

Major events of the war (1939–1945)
• German invasion of Poland
• Fall of France
• Battle of Britain
• German invasion of the Soviet Union
• Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
• D-Day (Allied invasion of Europe)
• Atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Major leaders of the war
• Franklin D. Roosevelt: U.S. president
• Harry Truman: U.S. president after death of President Roosevelt
• Dwight D. Eisenhower: Allied commander in Europe
• Douglas MacArthur: U.S. general
• George C. Marshall: U.S. general
• Winston Churchill: British prime minister
• Joseph Stalin: Soviet dictator
• Adolf Hitler: Nazi dictator of Germany
• Hideki Tojo: Japanese general
• Hirohito: Emperor of Japan

Activities that Support Lesson Plans

Can Hitler Be Trusted? Munich Conference: Appeasement Analysis
D-Day Worksheets: D-Day Landing Reading
D-Day Primary Source Readings: Primary Source reading analysis
Winston Churchill Speech 1940: Battle of Britain Winston Churchill Speech
SPR Video Permission Form: Permission slip for Saving Private Ryan
Truman and the Bomb: Truman and the Dropping of the Atomic Bomb Reading
Atomic Bomb Primary Source Readings : Students read a selection of Primary sources and answer questions
Dropping the Atom Bomb :Students answer questions about dropping the bomb
Atom Bomb Reading: Powerpoint with Teacher’s Answers about dropping the bomb
WWII Pacific Map : Map and reading analysis activity of Fighting in the Pacific
Battle of Midway in the Pacific World War II: Worksheet and analysis on Battle of Midway
WW2 Video Schlessinger Media: Video Questions for use with the World War II vide0 on Schlessinger Media.
WW2 Event Timeline : World War II Timeline of the Battles activity.

Click Here to Go Back to Virginia SOL Lesson Plan Page

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Challenge Records

Challenge Record Label

 Challenge Records by Sears

The Challenge record label was a budget label for Sears. It was produced from 1926-1930. It was pressed by the Starr Piano Company and would duplicate recordings found on Gennett and Champion records. Most were of anonymous recordings.

The Challenge Label sold for 24 cents and is generally of inferior quality. Starr struggled to produce records and, in its final years, Sears used The Scranton Button Company to press the records using master records from Plaza Music Company.

Music Genres: Waltz, orchestra, race records, blues, country, popular, reprints of Gennett and Champion records.

Pre-WW2 Label: This was the only label design for the record production: 1926-1930. Green and Gold with a Knight in Armor imagery. Note: Wikipedia for some reason has the record below but in black and white which is inaccurate.

Challenge Record Label
Challenge Record Label by Sears: 1926-1930

1939-1945 Label: None by Sears

Post-WW2 Label: None by Sears.

Numbers from start to 1945: 101-810
The Challenge Label has an unknown number of recordings but the series consists of 3 digits.

 101–271, 301–431, 501–506 = Gennett

 532–698, 763–793, 811–999 = Plaza and successor American Record Corporation;

 700–760 and 801–810 = Miscellaneous sources

Note: Many of the country artists were pseudonyms.


Country Music Records: A Discography, 1921-1942

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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


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Buddy System In World War Two

marines peleliu

 Notes on the Buddy System in World War Two

marines peleliu
US Marines take a break during the fighting on Peleliu

This article originated after observing a disagreement between two reenactors. One was arguing that the buddy system did in fact exist in World War Two. Another reenactor argued the exact opposite, that such a system was yet another example of a modern military concept grafted onto the World War Two hobby. After all, this individual pointed out, the buddy system is not mentioned in FM 21-100. The truth of the matter is somewhere in the middle.

Continue reading Buddy System In World War Two
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Voting in World War II

How American Soldiers Voted in World War II

Unlike today, voting for the World War Two serviceman was not such a straight forwarded affair. That isn’t to say voting for modern American Servicemen and Women isn’t easy only that things have objectively improved since WWII. Soldier’s attempting to vote encountered numerous obstacles to make absentee voting difficult or non-existent. It took a series of changes, each building incrementally to loosen-up the restrictions in time for the armed forces to vote in the Presidential election of 1944. One of the biggest changes was the political shift of the Republicans to allow (or at least not inhibit the Democrats) a federal presence in what is to be considered an area of state’s rights.

Continue reading Voting in World War II