Monday, September 23, 2013

92nd Infantry Div update PLUS a tribute to Bill Mauldin

Before explaining the cartoon, here's an update on my budding US Bolt Action Army, based on the 92 Inf Div, made up of African American soldiers. It's a compact group and I have primed the same amount of soldiers, waiting to get painted, so when those are done, I should have a decent size army. 
In the image you can see the M5 3In Anti Tank gun that I finished up over the weekend. More about that model and it's history in my next post. I have played two games now with Bolt Action and I find it really fun to play. The game is easy to play which makes it actually more fun - my buddy John mentioned "it gives you more time to have fun with your friends". 

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John handed me a book last week, written by Bill Mauldin. It's a first edition of Up Front, published in 1945 and writting during Mauldin's time in the Italian Campaign in 1944-45.
 In the book, Mauldin (as a 23 year old) gives it to the reader straight, there are no wise reflections on war and peace, on life and death. Instead there are Mauldin's (sometimes explicit) thoughts on the things he went through, his feelings about day to day life of the common infantry soldier and his dislike for Germans. SInce he was still in the thick of it when he wrote it, there is no looking back yet and I find it makes for very interesting reading.

Mauldin's cartoons expose the war and all it's drudgery, non heroic moments and the lack of basically everything from food to good cloths. He was always annoyed with the promo type information that floated around in the states about the heroism and virtues of the American liberators - he knew things were not so clear in wartime.

Every page in the book has a cartoon of his famous creations Willy and Joe, the amiable dogfaces that walk through the war and share their wisdom. The cartoons are amazing and tell us a lot about how it really was during those years. 
Mauldin became very, very famous with this cartoon, printed the day after Kennedy was shot.
He died in 2003, the recipient of TWO pullitzer prizes. 

There are many editions of the book Up Front available on Ebay and I really recommend spending 20 bucks on a copy.

SC Mike

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