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Yank, the Army Weekly – Guide to the Editions in the Library of Congress

This guide is a compilation of Library of Congress holdings of Yank: the Army Weekly magazine editions, as well as books in the Library's collection that discuss the magazine and the journalists who wrote for Yank and served in the war.

Introduction

This guide is a compilation of Library of Congress holdings of Yank: the Army Weekly magazine editions, as well as books in the Library's collection that discuss the magazine and the soldier-journalists who reported the war and fought in it as members of the U.S. armed forces.

Yank: the Army Weekly's concept and production began in 1942, when former Stars and Stripes newspaper staff member Egbert White (1894-1976) proposed the idea for a military magazine to the War Department. The magazine used US Army enlisted men and non-commissioned officers as staff, and officers for military administration. Magazine content (articles, columns, photographs and cartoons) was not overseen by officers. Content was written, edited and published by soldiers and non-commissioned officers only. Officers could not influence or reject content. The main magazine was produced in New York City as a 24-page tabloid, and local staff in a particular location would edit and insert a few pages of localized content. The magazine sold for five cents and could only be sold to military personnel. That charge was usually waived for those serving in combat areas.

The allowance for Yank's unique style of management came directly from President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson. The magazine was from the beginning intended to be free of influence or editing by commissioned officers. Yank became a publication known not only for its columns, photographs, image sketches and comic strips but for the everyday soldier to have a place to air a grievance or a gripe and receive an honest reply, which might or might not support his gripe. Yank's content was at times sarcastic when staff writers and artists made fun of how Hollywood and commercial advertising portrayed the war. That version of the war sold war bonds and movie tickets back home, but was seen as scrubbed and dishonest by those actually fighting in the war.

One such example of Yank content that often used a sarcastic approach to military life was the comic strip Sad Sack, drawn by Sergeant George Baker (1915-1975). Sad Sack premiered in Yank's first issue, June 17, 1942. It became a popular comic strip that persisted in its popularity through the war years. Sad Sack carried on as a post-war syndicated newspaper comic strip beginning in May, 1946 and continuing until 1958. Baker sold the rights to the strip to Harvey Comics and that company produced a number of Sad Sack comic books, 1949-1982. So popular was the character of Sad Sack, the comic spawned a summer replacement radio series, The Sad Sack (June 12 - September 4, 1946) and a 1957 motion picture, The Sad Sack External, starring Jerry Lewis (1926-2017) and a supporting cast that included Peter Lorre (1904-1964) and David Wayne (1914-1995).

Many staff members of Yank went on to have successful and distinguished post-war careers in journalism and other sectors. One staff member, serving as Yank's chief editor, went on to a highly visible and controversial post-war political career. That man, elected to the US Senate in 1946 as a Republican from Wisconsin, was Senator Joseph R. McCarthy (1908-1957). He helped lead efforts from the late 1940s through the mid 1950s to investigate the influence and infiltration of the Communist Party into US government institutions, the US military, business and commerce, and into the private lives of citizens in the form of Congressional hearings during this era, known as the Red Scare. He became so synonymous with the paranoid hysteria surrounding this period of time, the catchall term defining the response to the Red Scare came to be known as McCarthyism.

As active members of the US military, staff reported the war from forward areas in the midst of combat and from quiet rear areas. Several Yank staff members were killed in action and in wartime accidents. Captain Basil D. Gallagher died January 14, 1943 in a transport aircraft crash in Dutch Guyana (Suriname). Staff Sergeant John Bushemi was killed in action on February 19,1944 while covering the US landings on Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific (February 17-23, 1944). Sergeant Pete Paris was killed on June 6, 1944, during the Normandy Invasion. Sergeant Robert E. Krell was killed during Operation Varsity (April 10, 1945), the airborne assault that jumped the Rhine River.

Yank staff provided US troops around the world with 21 different editions published from 17 countries, to troops located in 41 countries. Circulation reached 2,250,000, with an estimated readership of twice that number.

- Joel Mota, Reference Librarian, Serial and Government Publications Division
- Will Elsbury, Military History Specialist, Researcher Engagement & General Collection