Heartwarming War Photos You've Probably Never Seen Before
By Sarah Norman | September 4, 2023
A Soldier Comes Home From War, 1940s
When you think about war it’s usually not in a great context. There’s fighting, shooting, and all manner of horrific existential crises that occur, but for the men and women who are in the military not every day is a dour trip in heavy equipment and we’ve got the visual proof. Soldiers during war time love to cut loose so they can cut the tension of their day to day lives.
Whether they’re hanging out with the locals or getting in some quality alone time, these photos of service men and women during World Wars I, II, and Vietnam will show you another side of the conflicts. If you want to see soldiers hanging out with baby kangaroos, or what it was like to drink in a English nom shelter then boy do we have the photos for you! Get out your rations and check out these lovable pics. Enjoy!
World War II was such a catastrophic, world upending event that husbands said goodbye to their wives without knowing whether or not they’d return. In spite of the fact that this was the second world war, this kind of battle had never been fought before. Soldiers were thrown across the world for years at time, unaware of whether or not they would ever make it home.
This photo only catches one a moment of glee that ripped through America as our boys returned home, giving families a second chance at life, and sending our country into one of the most prosperous times of the 20th century.
Edith Steiner, a Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust, and John Mackay, the Scottish Soldier that saved her. They were married July 17th, 1946, and will be celebrating their 73rd wedding anniversary this year!
A romance story for the ages if ever there were one. After rescuing a group of Jewish survivors from Auschwitz the Allied troops put together a dance in a local hall that was attended by both soldiers and survivors. Among the attendees were Edith, then known as Eci, and John Mackay. While the two never met while he was helping her out of the camp, they did spend the evening dancing.
While Edith grew up in Hungary, she and John continued seeing each other before marrying and building a life for themselves in Dundee, Scotland. In 2017 they celebrated 71 years together.
An incredible photograph of a German soldier going against direct orders to help a young boy cross the newly formed Berlin Wall after being separated from his family, 1961
After World War II Germany was a confused patchwork of chaos and disorientation when it was divided into distinct zones occupied by the Soviets, Americans, British, and the French. Over the course of the next decade millions of Germans fled West Germany for a better life, and in 1961 the Soviets began putting down a 100 plus mile barbed war wall inside East Berlin.
Soviets were given specific orders to not let anyone pass through the wall once construction began, but amidst the chaos this boy - who lived in East Germany - was stuck on the wrong side of the wall. As the border was closed this soldier lifted the boy to a better life. The barbed wire wall was later built into a full brick wall in 1963.
Marine Sergeant Frank Praytor Feeding An Orphaned Kitten. He Adopted The Kitten After The Mother Cat Died During The War.
War is hell, and anything that can help keep your mind from going completely dark during the day to day fighting has to be embraced. During the Korean War Praytor was serving as a combat correspondent with the 1st Marine Division, and while he was ensconced in Korea he took care of a kitten named “Mis Hap” to help pass the time.
After the photo was circulated Praytor says that he received fan mail from across the world. In 2009 he said, “I got letters from girls all over the country who wanted to marry me.” His photography was featured in major publications and after some brief time back in the states he returned to Korea where he wrote for Stars and Stripes. He also reunited with “Mis Hap,” who’d taken up a post in the Marine’s Public Information Office. Praytor passed away on January 10, 2018 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
United States Soldiers pay tribute to the 8 million Horses, Donkeys, and Mules that lost their lives during World War I, 1918
Men and women aren’t the only soldiers who serve their countries honorably in times of war. There’s a rich history of animals serving in various wings of the military and even earning awards and vaulted positions within their specific branches. Dogs, cats, and even bears have given their lives for their country.
In the early 20th century this group of soldiers struck a pose as a way to pay homage to those war horses who gave their lives during World War I. The first Great War was the last war where horses were used so liberally, but animals continued to play a major part in world militaries.
U.S. Soldier And Local Girl Sharing A Chocolate Bar And Cigarettes, 1940s
As simple as a bit of chocolate and pack of cigarettes sounds, after Japan gave in following World War II there were laws against fraternization between members of the U.S. military and Japanese locals - the same went for troops stationed in Germany. You might be able to tell from this photo (and plenty of others from the era) the rule didn’t really work out.
In fact, fraternization laws may have made soldiers and locals more apt to hang out with one another. Regardless, once the war ended it was clear that soldiers were no longer worried about fighting and were more concerned with rebuilding relationships between the people.
A British Soldier Whispers Into The Ear Of A Loved One As He Leaves For The Front, 1939
England was in the war much earlier than the allies in America. On September 3, 1939 England began their attempt to stop Germany by force. At the time there was an intense optimism within the English military that turned sour once they suffered initial defeats across the continent. However, from the onset of the war Britain believed that this would be an easy fight.
England had to go it alone until the end of 1941, when America joined the fight, and the Soviet Union ended its non-aggression pact with Germany to help beat back the Nazi forces and the Japanese army.
An amazing image of D-Day veterans sitting across from their younger selves in the same plane that dropped them into Normandy in 1944.
While we know the phrase “D-Day,” the story behind June 6, 1944 is one of true sacrifice and bravery in the face of terror. That day saw Allied forces invade German occupied France via beach landings on Normandy. Referred to as “Operation Neptune,” it was the largest amphibious invasion ever conducted. The entirety of the operation took nearly a week, and in that time the Allies failed to achieve their major objectives although the invasion created a major Allie stronghold in France.
It’s unclear how many members of the Allied forces were killed on D-Day and following week, but it’s estimated that at least 10,000 men died. It’s amazing that these brave men survived the landing, and it’s extremely lucky that so many men from the same group managed to stay alive.
Actress Martha O'Driscoll Kisses A Soldier Goodbye In Los Angeles, 1941
Firebrand Martha O'Driscoll was an actress who got her start doing whatever she could in Hollywood, but she was first seen in basic, one off roles in small films and plays as various unnamed babes. She didn’t become a name until she appeared in RKO films like Li’l Abner and Paramount’s Reap the Wild Wind. She starred in more B-films after that, and she used her minute fame to entertain the troops with the USO.
It’s no wonder that she kissed a soldier in the ‘40s because O’Driscoll obviously had a thing for men in uniform. In 1943 she married Lieutenant Commander Richard D. Adams from the U.S. Navy, although the two separated less than a year later.
A French Boy Introduces Himself To Indian Soldiers Who Had Just Arrived In France To Fight Alongside French And British Forces, Marseilles, 30th September 1914
In order to protect the Western Front during the first World War, French and British forces pushed ahead to Marseilles. The forces were made up of the “I-Corps” otherwise known as the Indian Corps, members of the British-Indian Army. While at the front the I-Corps took part in preparing trenches and fighting through some of the most heinous warfare of the 20th century.
The trench warfare of World War I introduced the world to death machines like tanks, and hazardous warfare tactics that made use of deadly toxins and chemicals. The I-Corps fought across the Western front for over four years.
A Little French Girl Gives An American Soldier A Kiss On Valentine’s Day, 1945
Months before the end of World War II, Allied Forces were entrenched in formerly German operated France. While soldiers were holding it down in France, 521 American pilots were bombing Dresden, turning the German occupied city to smoking piles of rubble. The soldiers who didn’t have perform such a deadly task had it lucky, but they were still in harm’s way.
The end of World War II wasn’t a done deal, and any solider watching over France was in a distinctly dangerous position. Anyone who put their life on the line to defend a town like that deserves a smooch.
A Sailor Kissing A Nurse In New York's Times Square. This Iconic Photo Symbolizes The End Of World War II, 1945
It’s likely that the name Greta Zimmer Friedman doesn’t mean anything to you. However this photo of a nurse and sailor kissing are absolutely burned into your brain. At the end of World War II Friedman was working as a dental assistant who was celebrating in Times Square as the world learned that the war was over. According to Friedman, as New Yorkers revered in jubilation the soldier spun her around and gave her a kiss.
Friedman later told Time Magazine, “It wasn’t that much of a kiss. It was just somebody celebrating. It wasn’t a romantic event.” So much for romance.
An American Soldier At An Advanced Allied Base With His Pet Kangaroo, 1942
We should all be so lucky as to have a pet kangaroo, but some guys have all the luck. Taken in 1942, this photo is a part of a collection that showcases soldiers at wartime, specifically prisoners of war. However that’s not the case with this lucky soldier and his little Joey friend, they seem to be fairly comfortable with their spot in the war.
That doesn’t mean that Allied Forces stationed in Australia had it easy. Many soldiers stationed throughout the island continent were waiting deployment to other areas or convalescing. It was essentially an in between station for soldiers, which can be just as stressful as being in the middle of a battle. No wonder this soldier made friends with little ‘roo.
Austrian Boy Receives New Shoes During WWII
If you know anything about life at home during World War II then you know that supplies were scarce, and that wasn’t just in America. People all over the world had to forego many every day extravagances to ensure that the Allied Forces had what they needed to stop German and Japanese armies from crushing the west. That purposeful starvation and brush off of normal life went for everything from food, to shelter, and even clothing.
There’s no telling how long this boy waited for a new pair of shoes, but by the looks of his original pair he’s been waiting quite some time. Have you ever been so happy to find a pair of shoes in your size? We doubt it.
An American Soldier Leans Over The Side Of An Army Vehicle As He Kisses A French Woman On A Bicycle During The Liberation Of Paris, 1944
Germany held France in its iron grasp for more than four years, but in 1944 the U.S. 4th Infantry Division in conjunction with the French 2nd Armored Division took back France from the Nazis. During the fight General Dietrich von Choltitz was ordered by Hitler to destroy Paris’ landmarks and burn the city to the ground before Allied Forces could take it back, but he ignored the Führer giving American and French soldiers a relatively simple road to success.
Paris was taken back from the Germans on the evening of August 25, and the next day a parade was lead down the Champs d’Elysees in celebration of their victory.
Korean War Goodbye Kiss, Los Angeles, Sept. 6, 1950
This is the kind of kiss that you only get when you’re going to or returning from war. Even though it didn’t receive a ton of attention in the media, the Korean War stretched on from 1950 to 1953.
U.S. intervention in the war wasn’t supposed to be something that lasted very long, and the Truman administration was unsure about whether or not they should be sending troops to a country that would draw possible Soviet intervention. It’s clear that these soldiers were positive going into the war, in spite of the fact that they were going straight into enemy territory.
An American Soldier And A Frenchwoman Kissing In A Picture That Raised Eyebrows After Appearing In Life Magazine, 1944
Following the Allies wrenching control of France away from the Germans towards the end of World War II they were seen as heroes, and rightfully so. In spite of fraternization rules that were laid down across the board, soldiers and civilians couldn’t help themselves and had to smooch in giddy glee at the idea of facing down the final days of the war.
The excitement that came with the end of Nazi occupation of France spread throughout the country, and it’s likely many love stories were born following France’s release.
Medic Feeding Baby Birds
Does the Hippocratic oath extend to sweet little baby birds? Even if it doesn’t, it’s no surprise that a military doctor would take some time out of their day to help keep these little songbirds happy and healthy. This press photo shows that even during war time soldiers were able to take a moment to get away from the atrocities of war and focus on something other than death.
Who knows how many birds this soldier worked on or how long these little fellas hung out with him, but it looks like they’re comfortable enough with him that they’ve been here for a while.
Man Returns Home From Time In The Navy. Carrying Sister While Brother In Law Shoots Them With A Water Pistol
Returning home from a tour with the military is always a joyous occasion - even when you’ve got a brother in a law who likes to joke around. Regardless of what kind of action or atrocities you’d witnessed making it back to the safety and comfort of normal life was something to celebrate. The best case scenario for most soldiers was that they were no longer needed for the war effort.
However wonderful it was to return home after spending years fighting both the German and Japanese armies, reintegration into society took years and sometimes even decades.
Russian Soldiers Of WWII Sleeping With Puppy
After liberating Prague in 1945 these Russian soldiers definitely deserved some much needed rest. On May 9, 1945 a combination of the Soviet army and Allied Forces marched into Prague from different vantage points. This tactical advantage allowed the two armies to wrench control from the German forces. By May 9, 1945 only a few members of the German army remained, and those that were left ran away early in the morning.
These tuckered out soldiers fought for nearly a week straight while liberating Prague, and the fact that they managed to get a puppy to curl up with them means that they defintiely did a very good job during the war.
A Woman Leans Over The Railing To Kiss A British Soldier Returning From World War II, London, 1940
By 1940 England had been involved in the second World War for at least four months, and likely planning their war against Germany for longer than that. The war had yet to completely blow wide open, and in ’39 the English felt an optimism for what would surely be a short excursion into enemy territory. This fellow returning from London’s receiving one of those optimistic smooches.
However, this kind of elation wouldn’t last for long. It would only be a few months before the Germans began their blitz of London that lasted for nearly a full year. Still, that's a great kiss.
A GI And His Girl Walk Arm-In-Arm Among The Sheep In Kensington Gardens, London, 1945
Following the war what better way to spend your time back at home than going for a walk with your gal? Kensington Garden is a perfect place to take a relaxed stroll as you contemplate the rest of your life. England was in a major rebuilding phase following the war, but the country had been through tough spots before and Brits were ready to get back to their regular lives.
It’s unclear exactly how the sheep of Hyde Park came to be, but from the 1850s through the 1940s it was a normal occurrence to see these wooly boys roaming free. As long you didn’t try to have a picnic you were just fine.
US Soldier Giving Japanese Girl A Bicycle Ride, With Handlebar Riding Forbidden, 1946, Japan
Even though it was frowned upon for GIs to fraternize with locals, that didn’t mean that it didn’t happen. And as far as pictures of people breaking the law go, this one is by far the cutest. Japan has a ton of laws pertaining to bicycles, and one of the main ones is that you’ve got to have your hands on the handlebars.
Since this photo made it to Life it's likely that no one got in trouble for this sweet infraction. But still, not only are these two lovebirds flaunting their military/local romance, they’re also showing a flagrant disregard for a country’s rules about how to ride. Ah, ain’t love grand?
Soldier Shares A Banana With A Goat During The Battle Of Saipan, Ca. 1944
The Pacific campaign that brought American forces to the island of Spain in the Mariana Islands was a part of Douglas MacARthur’s plan to take as much of the South Pacific as he could following the events of Pearl Harbor. The battle lasted for just over three weeks, from June 15 to July 9, and in that time there were thousands of military and civilian casualties on both sides.
While all of that was going on this soldier looks to have found a special friend hanging out in the trenches. It’s obvious from the photo that the battle has been raging for quite some time - so it’s sheer luck that this goat has survived. He deserves a snack.
A Young Woman Lifts Her Feet While Embracing And Kissing A Uniformed Us Soldier At The Train Station, Connecticut, 1945
Ain’t love grand? Soldiers returning home from World War II were greeted with love and lust from their gals back home. With 16 million Americans serving in the war in one capacity or another, it’s likely that most of the G.I.s didn’t see their loved ones for anywhere from one to five years - that’s a long time to stay be away from your sweetie.
Making it back to Connecticut had to be a real gas after serving over seas, and of course the first thing this young soldier did was steal a smooch, you know you'd do it.
A Young Woman On Roller Skates And Her Soldier Honey, 1940s
Rolling through the streets on a summer time date with your GI honey, is there anything more emblematic of the 1940s in America? This was the era that freestyle skating took America by storm, and even though many skaters kept their apparel to competitions, it wasn’t out of the ordinary to see a gal flaunting her skills on the black top.
Regardless of whether or not this gal was skating in a competition she sure looks cool. And her soldier bae looks like he's seen some action, you wouldn't want to mess with these two. Should we all go out and get some skates? That might be pretty gnarly.
Young Soldier Holding A Little Piggy With Lid In London During WWII
Out of all the animals that were soldiers in World War II, pigs had to be the least helpful of them all. They’re loud, they don’t help out when you’re in a bind, and they run away at the drop of a hat. However, they are incredibly cute and they look very adorable in a helmet. Sorry to all of the vegetarians out there, but this little piggy probably turned into dinner for the soldiers.
And you know what? That’s great that this little piggy helped out the boys while they were fighting the Nazis. Soldiers gotta eat, and little soldier piggy was ready to salute.
Jean Moore Kneels And Kisses Her Fiancé, Wheelchair-Bound World War II Veteran Ralph Neppel, 1945
Upon returning to America after World War II Ralph George Neppel received the Medal of Honor for continuing to man his machine gun during the Battle of the Bulge after German fire severed his leg. By staying at his post during the battle he helped destroy German reserves who were thrown at American forces. After he was discharged from the military he returned to Iowa.
While Neppel was probably jazzed about receiving the country’s highest order, he was definitely more pleased to see his fiancé and get a big ol’ kiss. Neppel passed away at the age of 63 in 1987.
Farewell To Departing Troops At New York's Penn Station, April 1943
There’s nothing more affecting than bidding goodbye to your loved one as they leave for war. The possibility that the person you love may never return is not only existentially exhausting, it’s also an impossible thing to prepare yourself for. With 16 million men joining the war effort, this is an image that played out across America.
The best you can hope for is that this soldier returned from war safe and sound to meet up with his gal in Penn Station only a couple of years later. Unfortunately for a lot of families that’s not how it worked out.
American Soldiers Getting Last Kiss On Ship Before Deployment To Egypt, 1963
In the middle of the Vietnam War there were some soldiers who were able to avoid one of the worst skirmishes that the United States has ever become embroiled in and go to sunny Egypt. It may be hot, and there may not be anywhere to swim with all that sand, but it’s not the middle of a napalm filled jungle.
No one is happy to see their loved one go off to war, but this pose shows that these soldiers and their gals felt okay about shipping off. It’s likely that these men were heading to Egypt to watch over the North Yemen Civil, which was fought between the Yemen Arab Republic and Egypt.
Soliders Dig For Gold In Vietnam, 1960s
It wasn’t all “napalm in the morning” for soldiers in Vietnam. While they faced a frightening day to day life of fighting a crafty military on their home turf, they made sure to find time to cut loose and goof off. Isn’t that what you want in your servicemen and women, people who know how to have a good time when they’re in the middle of a life and death scenario?
Many of the men who went to war in Vietnam were as young as 18, so it makes sense that they’d be a little on the goofy side. It’s good to know that these guys didn’t take them too seriously while running through the jungle.
Gunner Hector Morgan Returning Home, 1945
After living as a POW in Singapore for much of World War II Gunner Hector Morgan returned to England where he found his wife and son waiting for him. After a housing shortage his family was introduced to prefab housing in Tulse Hill. It’s impossible to imagine the feeling of returning home after living as a prisoner to find a new house, regardless of whether or not it was considered a slum.
There isn’t much information about how Morgan lived his life following his release from a POW camp, although he surely enjoyed his home in England much more than the previous few years.
American Soldier Kissing His English Girlfriend On Lawn In Hyde Park, 1945
Meeting people was easy in post war England. Case in point, this American soldier and his English girlfriend making out in Hyde Park. American troops first came to England in 1942 and according to the BBC they had large salaries and they had an even bigger appetite for parties. Close to 70,000 British women married American soldiers, which came as a surprise to many English locals.
In spite of the differences in American and English culture, GIs got along famously with the gals, and we’ve got the photo evidence. Has love across the pond ever looked so good?
Saying Goodbye At The Train Station Before Departing To WWII
After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 Americans of all shapes and sizes jumped to help the war effort. While industrial plants turned to full capacity, men signed up in incredibly large numbers which essentially wiped out unemployment numbers. Still, it must have been terrible for gals to see their beaus take off for basic training.
Training the new influx was one of the most daunting tasks of the war effort. With so many millions of young people joining the military they each had to be fed, clothed, and housed. No one was happy about the change, but these young soldiers were answering the call to take care of their country.
An American Soldier Goofs Off With His Sentry Dog, 1940s
Man’s best friend, not only can he snuggle up to you and play fetch, he can watch your back in a fox hole. It wasn’t unconventional to see dogs during World War II, with many of them serving as mascots for various platoons. Dogs were picked up and trained at the Remount Branch of the Quartermaster Corps which prepped the dogs for sentry duty and tactical missions.
Most dogs were trained to watch over camps throughout the night where they let their handlers know when someone approached. Dogs were most likely to be found working with the Coast Guard, but they were also overseas in American camps in Japan.
A US Marine stops to share food and water with three children on the Mariana Islands in 1944
While fighting the Battle of Saipan on the Mariana Islands more than 100,000 American troops sought to take hold of one of Japan’s most critical bases on the front line. U.S. troops wanted to build an air base on the island, but it was a harder fight than they thought it would be. That being said, Marines pushed Japanese soldiers back and finally took the island after three weeks.
Prior to the battle, Japanese forces told Saipan civilians that American troops would kill them after the fight and thousands of people east to their death. Obviously that wasn’t the case, and American troops managed to win over the locals.
Women At Home On A Break From Work, 1940s
Men weren’t the only people putting their lives on the line for America during World War II. Back home in the states, women were picking up the slack at factories in order to manufacture products for soldiers and make sure these businesses stayed open while the original employees were away.
More than 300,000 women worked in the U.S. aircraft industry in 1943, which made up more than 50 percent of the workforce. By 1945 almost one out of every four women had a job in the American workforce, which presented a huge jump from prior to the war.
American Soldiers Passed Out After A Night Of Hard Partying, 1945
Following the end of World War II papers across the country were so excited that they simply exclaimed “PEACE!” Everyone across America celebrated, parades were thrown, parties went down, and soldiers got understandably hammered. After nearly five years in a world war that saw them being thrown around the world to fight a variety of horrible enemies it was time to relax.
These two guys may have partied a little too hard, or maybe they’re just taking a nap in between parties. It would be another few years before America went off to another war, so these two needed to rest up.
A Man Removing A dog From A Wrecked House In The East End Of London Following An Air Raid, 40s
The air raids that terrorized England throughout World War II were meant to completely destroy London, insuring that the people of England had no where to go and no infrastructure. Despite the existence of air raid shelters dating back to 1938, there were still issues with people and animals getting caught in the blitzkriegs.
During the air raids families blacked out their windows, doors, and lights in order to keep pilots from spotting targets. That didn’t stop bombs from dropping or first responders from losing their lives. Even though the bombs were no doubt deadly, this little guy in the photo somehow survived, living another day to play another game of fetch.
Sheltering Underground During the Blitz Islington London, 1940s
The blitzes of London during World War II were no laughing matter, however the destruction never trounced the spirits of the Brits. While staying in shelters during the bombings many citizens turned the whole thing into a minor block party. They weren’t being glib, and they knew just serious the situation was, but they didn’t want to let this fight get them down.
After a while the night raids by the Germans became a near constant, and people began to live in their shelters more than they did their homes. Rather than fall prey to depression this brought a rise of communal spirit to England during the darkest part of the war.
A Couple Kissing In A Pub As Europe Celebrates The End Of World War II, London, 1945
At the end of World War II the British Empire was worse for wear but it was not beaten. On May 8, 1945 Winston Churchill announced the end of the six year battle, and by the end of the war nearly half a million soldiers were killed in action while 67,100 civilians lost their lives.
When announcing the end of the war Churchill stated, “We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead. Japan with all her treachery and greed, remains unsubdued.” While this is a fairly subdued celebration, it still looks like a pretty good way to celebrate the end of the war.
D. Brown Kissing Her Fiance Terry Under The Mistletoe, On Board The HMS Wakeful At Portsmout, 1955
Christmas on a destroyer, it doesn’t get any better than that. This W-Class destroyer is the second ship to carry its name, the first Wakeful was sunk by a German E-Boat off Dunkirk. The new Wakeful was refitted in 1944 and was used as a Boys Training ship after the war. In 1953 she was a major part of the Fleet Review which celebrated Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.
After the coronation the Wakeful sat still for a couple of years until it was time to help train students at a navigational school. She stuck around for a few more decades before being decommissioned in 1970.
Soldier Kissing A Red Cross Nurse, 1945
y the end of World War II, soldiers, nurses, and members of the Red Cross were more than happy to see the end of the never ending battle. While it may look like people were constantly kissing at the end of the war, is that really so crazy? Can you imagine spending years of your life on the edge of death only to be told that you can finally go home and not worry about being bombed?
Imagine the joy that would fill you up, wouldn’t you want to grab the closest member of the Red Cross and land a smooch right on their helpful lips?
Women’s Army Corp Member Kissing Her Husband, Upon Discharge January 1, 1945
You don’t often hear about women serving during World War II, what with all the talk about the boys overseas defending freedom. Throughout 1942 more than 150,000 women served as a part of the Women's Army Corps. These gals helped to supply their male counterparts with materials to keep the war effort moving. As important as their contributions were it has to be wonderful to be cut loose from the military following the war.
It’s not that members of the WACs didn’t want to serve their country, quite the opposite. It just feels like a breath of fresh air to find out that you no longer have to worry about being shipped out at a moment’s notice.
A British Tommie Bestows A Last Kiss Upon His Rhineland Sweetheart As His Detachment Leaves For England As They Evacuate Germany. Konigstein, Germany, September 1929
Rhineland was the demilitarized zone of Germany following World War I. After the Locarno Pact was signed and the original boundaries as set by the Treaty of Versailles were returned, Allied Forces were removed the area and by 1930 it was a peaceful spot until Hitler reared his head a few years later. However at the time the area was the industrial heart of Germany.
It’s likely that the Allies struck up relationships with local women because they thought they’d be in town for a while. It turns out that wasn’t the case and so many hearts were broken when the boundaries went back to the way they were.
Allied Forces Console A Girl After A Bombing In London, 1940s
There was nowhere to run from the night raids carried out by the Germans across London. While adults living in England understood the terror of the blitzkriegs, there’s no way to explain the existential terror to someone so young, but American GIs did their best to make people feel safe no matter in spite of the overwhelming darkness that surrounded them.
It’s unclear whether or not American troops brought small dogs and cats around with them to make people feel better, but if they did you have to wonder how much of the budget was allowed for cute little animals.
A Soldier And His Girlfriend, Texas, USA, 1941
Texas has a long history of military installations of every kind, aside from their sizable amount of bases, a large percentage of the male population of the state enlisted in the military. Some calculations say that 750,000 Texas served in the war, and at least 22,000 of them were killed in action. Most of the units from Texas who were in the war spent time fighting in the Pacific.
However, the Thirty-sixth division who helped invade Europe were mobilized at Camp Bowie in Brownwood, TX before taking off for Africa in 1943. From there they moved through Europe before ending the war in Austria.
An English ATS And A GI Lies In The Grass In Hyde Park, 1945
The Auxiliary Territorial Service was similar to the WACs in America. The female recruits for the British military initially began working as cooks and shopkeepers, but they also put themselves in harms way. Prior to the invasion of Dunkirk many ATS members were among some of the last troops to leave the country. With members of the ATS putting their lives on the line, it’s no surprise that they ran into a couple of handsome GIs from time to time.
A post war get together in Hyde park sounds like a lovely afternoon, especially after spending the previous years dealing with constant bombings from the Germans.
Australian Serviceman With Kangaroo In Egypt, World War I
When Australia joined the war effort against Germany in World War I they brought along a group of cute little kangaroos with them, you know, for fun. Members of the Australian military mostly fought in the Suez Canal in Egypt while helping maintain fronts on three different continents. While the kangaroos didn’t help with the fight, they were kept in military hospitals in order to raise the spirits of soldiers on the mend.
After the war ended Australia donated some of their kangaroos to the Cairo Zoological Gardens where you can still check out their ancestors to this day.
American Soldier Holds Vietnamese Baby, 1960s
Vietnam was a huge mess that last for nearly two decades, and while much has been made of the atrocities committed by both GIs and members of the Vietcong, it’s clear from this photo that many American troops were quite taken with the Vietnamese locals. It’s an understatement to say that there was a ton of fighting during this quagmire, but in some instances GIs and locals actually got along.
It’s likely that this soldier didn’t know this very cute little child, but it’s nice to see that for a short period of time Americans were getting along with the people whom with they were fighting.
Coffee Served On Porch Of Ante-Bellum Mansion, At Party For Cadets From Local Army Flying School, Mississippi, US, 1943
Does anything say Antebellum South more than coffee and the most complicated dresses? These students from a local flying school deserve a nice coffee date, especially when they’re taking on one of the most frightening jobs in the military aside from mine tester.
There’s a history of military education in the Antebellum dating back to the days of the Civil War, and schools like the Citadel train their students in both military strategy and technical acumen. Whether it’s because of the ample amount of air space, or simply happenstance, many of the flight schools in the south are located in South Carolina, which means that these fine fellows and ladies are sweating their faces off.
US Soldier Tenderly Kissing His Girlfriend Goodbye Before Departing By Train, 1922
America did its best to stay out of World War I, which had been underway since 1914. However by 1917 President Woodrow Wilson saw no other choice other than to send a “million man army” to the front lines in Europe. Wilson believed that in order to have a say in what happened after the war, America needed to be in it.
The war carried on for years, insuring that America would earn its voice after Germany’s surrender. This photo is emblematic of both he style of the time and our soldier’s can do attitude when it came to fighting for freedom.
Raf Officer T. W. Hudspith Enjoying Some Light Reading, 1945
Members of the Royal Air Force are akin to the American branch of the same name, and they put themselves under the same kind of stress. Throughout World War II they flew dangerous missions over enemy territory in what were essentially flying metal coffins. Any chance they got to relax was well earned, but it always came with the promise of another assignment.
It wasn’t easy to get papers and magazines to the front, so any reading material that a soldier could get was definitely appreciated. Unfortunately the barracks were a bit dour, so it was like relaxing in a black box theater.
A Kiss In Times Square Displays The Mood Of The World On V-E Day, New York, May 8, 1945
At the end of World War II a spirit of community and relief swept across the western world, so it’s no surprise that everyone was making out once official word came down that the war was over. Times Square saw the most action from soldiers and their appreciative fans. Soldiers popped bottles, they kissed, they partied and it was well earned.
These soldiers were embroiled in a daily life and death struggle so they deserved a chance to cut loose and celebrate not only their survival, but their triumph in the East. Unfortunately it was a short time between the end of World War II and the beginning of the war in Korea.
Servicemen And Downtown Workers Embrace And Kiss In The Street As Word Of Surrender Flashed Through The Nation, 1945
It’s kind of amazing that no one caught mono at the end of World War II. Not only was everyone making out, but they were all making out together. As fortune smiled on servicemen and women during the final days of the war, it must have been grinning in on V-E day, after word of Germany and Japanese surrender flitted around every corner.
The greatest excitement likely came from the fact that no one would be redeployed for quite some time, and even if there was a fast turn around, no one would be sent to a dangerous war zone for at least a few years.
A Member Of The 1st Battalion Of The Manchester Regiment During A Quayside Reunion At Southampt Before The Unit Moves Onto Egypt
Throughout the years the Manchester Regiment has spent quite a bit of time sailing back and forth from England to Egypt. In World War I, prior to the Ottoman Empire joining the fray to help Germany, the Manchester Regiment joined up with the Egyptian forces to work as a territorial force. During their battles with the Ottomans the regiment lost a lot of men.
When the regiment was evacuating from Cape Helles in late 1915 and early 1916 some 1,200 soldiers were lost during various skirmishes. If this soldier knew he was going into that kind of battle then it’s no wonder he’d want to get in one last kiss.
A Present For His Girlfriend, California, 1943
What better way to treat your best gal while you’re on leave than to get her a nice bracelet? The sad truth of World War II is that many soldiers were away for stretched that could last as long as a year if not more. That made their time at home all the more important. When they came home they wanted to be with the loved ones and remind them that there was someone fighting for them.
Hopefully this fresh faced fellow made it back to California once the war was finished so he could see how that bracelet looked with a couple of years on it.
A Soldier Saying And A Friendly Monkey In Vietnam, 1960s
There wasn’t anything “fun” about Vietnam. It was a war that went on far too long and that killed too many brave young men. But on good days in the jungle, when the fighting was kept to a minimum, moments like this could occur that show why a place like Vietnam should be left untampered with. While most soldiers would probably freak out when a monkey jumped on their back, that’s not the case with this guy.
For many soldiers, this is the reason to join up. They want to travel and see what the world has to offer - monkeys and all.
Soldier Is Welcomed Home At Long Beach Airport, 1945
Long Beach was a quiet beach side town prior to the horrific events of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Not only were many members of the military who lost their lives that day from Long Beach, but the town soon suffered an influx of military men once people began to join the war effort to get revenge for their fallen comrades.
Once the war ended, many soldiers came back through Long Beach, and it was especially an incredibly emotional time for people who lived in the city prior to deployment. This guy has to be happy to be home, and not just because he’s got a great gal waiting on him.
One Solider Reads Over Another's Shoulder During Vietnam, 1967
Even though these soldiers are reading Paris Match, these aren’t French soldiers. In fact, this issue of the Paris based journal showcased intense photos from Vietnam and these guys just wanted to see what else was happening on the front lines. According to listings for this issue it also features an interview with Shirley Maclaine.
This was one of the rare moments of down time for soldiers in the Vietnam War, and it’s fascinating that they took a break from fighting to look at views of the war from a different perspective.