WWII 388th Bomb Group – Alva Alegre Snaps Glenn Miller in Knettishall, England 1944

August 25th, 1944,

Glenn Miller poses with some members of the 388th Bomb Group.  Only a few months later Miller went missing during a flight over the English Channel, launching a 70 year search for his wreckage.  His death is still an unknown, although many suggest that he was in fact a German spy or was possibly shot down by friendly fire. Check here for some possible leads:





Glenn Miller Poses with 388th Bomb Group Officials in Knettishall, Sussex, England

Some of Glenn’s best known hits are Moonlight Serenade, Chattanooga Choo Choo, A String of Pearls, Little Brown Jug and Tuxedo Junction.   Many of these songs are likely lost on my generation, but will be familiar to many of the readers of this blog.  Please check out the links listed below for some vintage Glenn Miller footage!


Glenn Miller

Another 388th Big Wig (unnamed)


Alva Snaps a Photo of the Glenn Miller Band Crowd

WWII Portrait Photo – Redheaded Poster Pinup Mystery! Help Needed


The vast majority of material posted here on PortraitsofWar has been painstakingly identified through dedicated research and a little bit of luck.  In this case, I’ve been stumped!  I need YOUR help to figure this one out.  Here’s what we know:

1.  The photo was taken by a Des Moines, Iowa photographer.  I purchased a series of original 4×5 negatives from an eBay dealer.  All showed Des Moines area veterans taken between 1944 and 1946.

2.  The photo depicts an attractive redhead (see poster below) WAVE volunteer.  WAVE stands for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.

3.  The poster in the image was designed by John Falter in 1943.  “She’s helping to win….. how about you?”

Mystery WAVE

Mystery WAVE

Was she a Des Moines native?  Or was she merely in Des Moines during the war?  It would be great to track her down and I need your help.  Any ideas?


Color Image of Poster

Color Image of Poster(source)


WWII Photo Negative – German Prisoners Captured in Munich, May 1945 – Event Captured on Film!

It’s not often that I’m able to link an amateur still photograph with a professional moving film, but I’ve been able to do it here.  In this particularly crisp shot, a member of the Anti-Tank Company of the 222nd Infantry Regiment snapped a shot of a group of Munich city officials and policemen surrendering in the main center of Munich.  I thoroughly researched this set of images and was able to track down living members of the Company who remember the events in the images.  A rare opportunity!

222nd Munich

222nd Munich


Here’s a video that captures this exact scene.  http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675075225_German-officers_United-States-officers_conference_prisoners-marched-along-street

Please skip ahead to 00:44 to view the quick clip of this scene.  Trucks of the 222nd Anti-Tank company can be seen escorting thousands of German POW’s in the next scene.  I’ve included a screengrab for those of you who can’t view the video.  The film was shot by Sgt. Fred Bornet, a well-known combat photographer who made recent news when he gave an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2004.  Please check out this: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1914938

222nd Screengrab

222nd Screengrab



WWII USMC Marine Corps SBD Dauntless VMSB-231 Pilot and Dive Bomber on Majuro, Marshall Islands

An eBay seller recently posted an anomalous grouping of negatives online.  The photos were reportedly from the collection of a US ETO fighter pilot, but were clearly taken in a tropical location.  My BS radar went off, and I placed a single bid on one of the “better” images.  After the negative arrived (2.5 by 3.5 in original glassine envelope), I was able to extract a bit more info; although the man posed in the photo is still a mystery.  His name appears to be Jud – and I’ve narrowed down the unit info to place him as a pilot with the VMSB-231 station on Majuro in the Marshall Islands in 1944.  I’ve contacted the seller to track down more shots from this historic grouping.

The VMSB-231 stands for Marine Scout Bombing Squadron # 231.  They were known as the “Ace of Spades” and can sometimes be seen sporting spade insignia on their planes.  The unit was responsible for dive bombing Japanese shipping and freight.  The SBD was a radial engined dive-bomber that was extensively used in the early portion of the US involvement in the PTO.  Here’s a good site regarding the SBD: http://science.howstuffworks.com/douglas-sbd-dauntless.htm



Some technical data on the SBD:

Douglas SBD Dauntless Specifications

Wingspan: 41 ft. 6-1/2 in.

Length: 33 ft. 1-1/2 in.

Height: 13 ft. 7 in.

Empty Weight: 6,500 lbs

Gross Weight: 10,700 lbs

Top Speed: 252 mph

Service Ceiling: 26,100 ft.

Range: 1,100 miles

Engine/Horsepower: One Wright R-1820/1200

Crew: 2

Armament: Two .50-inch Browning machine guns in the nose; two .50-inch Browning machine guns flexibly mounted in the rear cockpit; 1,600 lbs of bombs under fuselage; 650 lbs under the wing

Awesome WWII Catholic Chaplain Jeep – Negative/Photo – Willys Jeep in Germany 1945

Guys like this make me proud to be Irish Catholic!  I have hundreds of negatives from this 9th Armored Division collection, many of them related to Chaplain services during WWII.  The collection includes 20-30 shots of this same jeep – gotta’ love the name!  Ave Maria.

See the bar projecting above the front of the hood?  It was created to cut wires that may have been strung across French and German roads in order to decapitate US soldiers.  Ouch!