A female US service member rocks a summer dress and snaps a shot of the photographer; what more can you ask for from a blog dedicated to obscure vernacular snapshots taken during wartime? Originally digitally cropped down from a slightly larger print, this shot exudes the youthful demeanor of downtime during WWII. The taut, braced legs also hint to a slightly posed sexualized snapshot….
WWII Snapshots are easy to come across. They appear in bundles at flea markets and yard sales. It’s very uncommon to be able to positively identify a US soldier in a snapshot – let alone one that has relatives actively seeking information on ancestry.com. Please see below for a step-by-step breakdown of my research on this photo.
Step 1: Purchase of Photo
A $12 eBay Purchase
With the purchase made, I had to wait a week for the photo to arrive without any research potential on the photo. All I knew was that the shot was of a tanker with sand/dust goggles standing in front of a Sherman tank in France. An interesting shot, albeit sleightly out of focus…..
John Housman Jr.
Step 2: Research Photo
Researching photos can be a daunting task without a proper research database at hand. Luckily, I subscribe to ancestry.com as well as a number of other databases. In this case, I was able to make the proper ID with the US census record combined with the WWII draft record. What do we know from the photo? It turns out that the photo arrived with an ID on the reverse: Johnny Housman-Tanker of Braceville, Illinois. It’s a great starting place and provided the key to the unlocking of the positive ID of the photo.
John Housman Jr. WWII from Braceville, IL
With the info at hand I was able to make an easy identification using the tools at hand. A quick search yielded the following info:
John F. Housman Social Security Number 358-05-2949
And his enlistment which appears to be off be off by a year:
WWI Draft Registry
I’m sure the family of John Housman Jr. will find this site and I hope they will share some info on their father/relative. I’m more than happy to send the original to an identified member of the family. I know you’re out there !
Some of the best images in my collection come from my grouping of 42nd Rainbow Division negatives. A stunning range of images depicting combat situations, German POW’s, disabled tanks, downed planes, the Dachau liberation, and many other amazing scenes. The quality is superb.
From the negative grouping of Edward Majchrowicz
From time to time I will cull through my backlogged collections and pull out interesting images for posting here to PortraitsofWar. My collection of 42nd Division negatives from a member of the 222nd Anti-Tank Company is comprised of nearly 600 B/W negatives and an additional 200 prints. The collection is one of the best I own, and is ripe with juicy frontline photos. I’m even friends with a veteran from the company, who can tell me the stories behind the images. Here’s a nice shot of a group of dejected German POW’s. Apparently, the line consisted of nearly 1,200 soldiers who surrendered somewhere outside Schweinfurt, Germany.
Casual followers of this blog (as well as some dedicated followers) will know that I’m obsessed with casual snapshots of celebrities during the war. I’m more interested in obscure personalities that rarely show up on eBay. My collection includes shots of Spike Jones, Joe Brown, Frank Sinatra, Ernie Pyle, and Lee Marvin. A few months back I was lucky to add another shot of famed WWII journalist Ernie Pyle to my collection. Sorry for the delay!
Snapshots taken during combat situations are the Holy Grail for WWII photo collectors. In this case, a soldier in the 395th Infantry Regiment of the 99th Division snapped a photo during a firefight with Germans near a dike in Neustadt, Germany. A great action shot! To make this shot even more amazing, I found an original film shot shortly after the same episode in the exact same postion. This time the dike has been fortified with sandbags and pontoon boats. Look for the 0:39 second mark.
Snapped by a man named Earl Reese, a member of the 395th Infantry Regiment of the 99th Division.