My Favorite Tear-jerker Movies in WWII

Who doesn’t love a good tear-jerker? These dramatic movies draw you into the plot and, when something terrible happens, you can’t help but cry. During the 40’s lots of these emotional movies were made. The few listed here are ones that I’ve watched over and over.

5. The White Cliffs of Dover (1944)

This one is a real tear-jerker and maybe a little too sentimental. Starring Irene Dunn the film begins during WWII, with Nurse Dunn at a British hospital waiting for the wounded to be brought in. While she waits, in a flashback, she remembers coming to England in 1914, falling in love with an English Baronet and marrying him. World War I breaks out and the Baronet goes off to war. He is killed leaving Dunn and their baby son. When the boy grows up, he stubbornly follows in his father’s footsteps and joins the Army. I won’t give away the ending but as I said, it’s a real tear-jerker.

4. Arch of Triumph (1948)

I recently watched this one. I hadn’t seen for years. You may not have heard of it, but it is definitely worth watching. Set in Paris before the German invasion, Charles Boyer plays a doctor who is a refugee with no papers. He meets Ingrid Bergman on a rainy night and helps her find a place to stay. As the movie progresses they fall in love, but when the French deport Boyer, the impatient, flighty Bergman takes up with someone else. Boyer manages to return to Paris. He and Bergman go back and forth. And, of course, the tear-jerker ending. Boyer and Bergman give excellent performances and you’ll love the doorman.

3. Desire Me (1947)

Desire Me is another movie many have never heard of. Greer Garson plays a Parisian who fell in love with a fisherman from Britany played by Robert Mitchum. Garson remains in their cottage by the sea when Mitchum goes off to war. Captured, Mitchum spends much of the war in a German prison camp where he makes friends with the Robert Hart character. When Hart shows up at the cottage and tells Garson that he saw Mitchum killed, the news devastates Garson. Hart wants to stay and help. His uncanny knowledge of her, the cottage and the area, unsettles Garson but he explains that to stay sane in the camps Mitchum talked constantly about his wife and home. As a viewer you will sympathize with Garson, the loss of her love and the loneliness she has endured. Hart’s peculiar words and actions will have you wondering about him. I won’t spoil the ending. I’ll just say you’ll get caught up in the story and characters and you’ll have to watch to the very end.

2. I’ll Be Seeing You (1944)

In another unusual story set during WWII, Ginger Rogers plays a young woman who is serving a prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter. She’s allowed to come home for Christmas. On the train, she meets Joseph Cotton, a war veteran suffering from shell shock (what we call PTSD today). He likes her and decides to get off the train when she does. Rogers’ aunt invites the soldier over for a meal. Rogers keeps her convict status from him but her cousin, played by Shirley Temple, doesn’t like her and ends up telling her secret. The revelation spoils the budding relationship between Rogers and Cotton. Rogers fears no one will ever get past her convict status as she returns to prison only to find Cotton waiting for her. Sorry to give away the happy but poignant ending. I really love this movie because it shows how two damaged people can fall in love. I couldn’t find it available to watch anywhere. You might catch it on TCM one day. Watch it if you can.

1. Mrs. Miniver (1942)

Mrs. Miniver is my all time favorite WWII tear-jerker movie. In fact, it’s one of my favorite WWII movies ever. Set on the English home front, at the beginning of the war, Greer Garson portrays Mrs. Miniver, a beloved English housewife carrying on for her family as life changes due to the war. Walter Pigeon is Mr. Miniver, Richard Ney is their son in the RAF and Teresa Wright is their daughter-in-law. Village life in England during the war, with its cast of characters, makes a beautiful contrast to the bombings, the dangerous rescue at Dunkirk, and the threats of invasion. If you haven’t seen this movie, you’ve really missed out on a great one.

If, like me, you love romance with a dose of heartache, you will enjoy all of these movies. If you’ve read my books, you know that’s what I write and it’s what I read, too.

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Top WWII Prisoner of War Movies

Continuing with my favorite WWII movies, today I am listing my favorite WWII POW movies, in reverse order, of course. Actually, there are four movies and one TV series. There weren’t many POW films made, probably due to the difficult subject matter. These are, in my opinion, the best.

5. Unbroken (2014)

Unbroken is the story of Louie Zamperini, an Olympic athlete who served in the Army Air Corps during WWII. After being shot down over the Pacific and floating in a lifeboat for weeks, the Japanese rescued Zamperini and took him to Japan as a prisoner of war. The Japanese defied the Geneva Convention by torturing prisoners and using them as slave labor. This movie depicts the brutality of the Japanese toward prisoners. Based on what I have read, the depiction of the B-24 crashing into the ocean accurately portrays the bomber breaking in half when it hit the water. I prefer the book because it covers much more of Zamperini’s life. Still, this movie is definitely worth watching.

4. Hogan’s Heroes (TV Series 1965-1971)

It seems unlikely to have a sitcom set in a German POW camp, yet I loved Hogan’s Heroes. Both funny and intelligent, the show depicted the antics of the prisoners and the incompetence of the German commander. My favorite character was Sergeant Schultz, the good-hearted guard whose famous line was “I know nothing.” I have always believed that the idea for Hogan’s Heroes came from the bits of comedy in the movie “Stalag 17,” on the list below.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Bridge_on_the_River_Kwai_(1958_US_poster_-Style_A).jpg#/media/File:The_Bridge_on_the_River_Kwai(1958_US_poster_-_Style_A).jpg Fair Use

3. Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

In Bridge on the River Kwai, English POW’s were forced to build a railroad bridge in Burma by their Japanese captors. Alec Guinness, the English commander, insisted that the prisoners build a proper bridge as a moral builder. Others including William Holden’s character disagreed and preferred sabotage. The Japanese commander, desperate to complete the bridge, let Guinness take charge, realizing more got done than when he threatened and punished the prisoners. Holden escaped and then led a group back to destroy the bridge. Guinness was so proud of his bridge that he almost spoiled the plan. Bridge on the River Kwai has it all, action, intrigue, superb characters and a fascinating plot. Definitely a must see.

By Internet Movie Poster Awards., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7408622

2. Stalag 17 (1953)

Stalag 17, starring William Holden, depicts a German Prisoner of War camp where American airmen are being held. Holden played a cynical entrepreneur who spent his time organizing betting games, distilling alcohol and spying on the Russian women prisoners. The men suspected someone was spying for the Germans. They accused Holden. A new prisoner, who supposedly blew up a German munitions train, arrived. Eventually the spy was revealed and Holden became a hero when he helped the new prisoner escape. Conditions in the movie were not near as bad as the actual prison camps. Never the less, Stalag 17 is very entertaining. Holden received an Oscar for his performance. I definitely recommend this movie. It’s a classic.

1. The Great Escape (1963)

An exciting and entertaining movie, The Great Escape depicts a German Luftwaffe (Air Force) Prisoner of War camp. The Germans had separate POW camps for their Air Force, Army and Navy. The Luftwaffe also separated the officers from the enlisted men. In The Great Escape actors Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson, Richard Attenborough, James Coburn and David McCallum portray prisoners who plan an escape, not of one or two prisoners, but of fifty to one hundred. In addition to escaping, the strategy was to keep German soldiers busy and away from the front. They dug three tunnels, Tom, Dick and Harry to increase their odds of success. Steve McQueen’s character tried to escape several times with no luck. He was called the “Cooler King” because each time he tried to escape he was put in the “Cooler.” The POW leadership asked him to escape, find out all he can about the area surrounding the camp, then get caught and brought back. That’s when the famous scene where McQueen jumps the motorcycle happens. The Great Escape is a great movie that I’ve watched several times. It’s one of my favorite WWII movies. If you haven’t seen it, you should make a point to watch this one.

I am an old movie buff as you can tell from my “lists”. I hope you are enjoying these posts and that you have found some excellent movies to watch.

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The Lead Up To World War II – Is History Repeating Itself?

The events leading up to the Second World War is a timely topic. We can see similar patterns today. So I thought it would be a good time to remind all of us of past events to help us understand the present.

In January 1933 Adolf Hitler was named Chancellor of Germany. He soon suspended the Constitution of Germany and, therefore, became their Dictator.

Rhineland, demonbug, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

March 7, 1936, Germany re-militarized the Rhineland. According to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I, the Rhineland was to remain a demilitarized zone. The Rhineland, an area along the western border of Germany bordering on France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, remained a part of Germany after WWI but it was supposed to provide a buffer zone for their neighbors to the west. When Hitler marched his soldiers into the Rhineland, there were no significant objections from the former Allied countries. This was a small but important victory which embolden Hitler.

March 12, 1938, Germany annexed Austria. Hitler claimed that the German speaking people of Austria should be part of Germany. He had already made know his belief that all Germans should be within one nation or Reich. Also pro-Nazi groups had been trying to destabilize Austria by attempting to overthrow the Austrian Government in 1934. Hitler denied any involvement or desire to annex Austria in 1935. In February 1938 a new Austrian Chancellor was appointed after his predecessor was assassinated. Under pressure from Germany to do their bidding this new Chancellor resigned. Hitler demanded that the President appoint an Austrian Nazi as the new Chancellor. When he refused, Hitler ordered the invasion. Most Austrians welcomed the Germans thinking their life would be better as part of the Third Reich.

Sudetenland Occupation By Bundesarchiv, Bild 137-004055 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5418581

September 30, 1938, Germany, Britain, France and Italy signed the Munich Agreement. In it the Sudetenland, a large swath of Czechoslovakia, was ceded to Germany in return for a promise of peace from Hitler. Again Hitler’s explanation for taking the Sudetenland centered around Hitler’s belief that German Sudeten’s in the area should be part of Germany. He also wanted more “living space” for the growing German Reich. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier believed Hitler’s promise of peace, but Hitler did not.

On September 1, 1939, Hitler’s forces invaded Poland, knowing that Britain and France had treaties with Poland stating that they would come to Poland’s defense if she were attacked. At that point, both countries were obligated to honor their treaties. On September 3, 1939, France, Britain, Canada and other British Commonwealth nations declared war on Germany. World War II had begun.

Invasion of Poland 1939 en:User:Listowy, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons

It soon became apparent to the world that Hitler’s ambitions went further that wanting Poland. After originally agreeing to split Poland with Russia (Soviet Union), Hitler had a change of heart and attacked Russia (Soviet Union) on June 22, 1941.

The United States stayed out of the “European” war until Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. A few days later, on December 11, 1941, Hitler declared war on the United States.

Does any of this step-by-step expansion make you think of what is going on today? Do you see the slow plotting, taking a little territory at a time, to unite people who speak the same language, share a culture and a history? Do these excuses justify one nation taking over another sovereign nation?

My Top Five WWII Navy Movies

Continuing with my WWII movie theme, here are my favorite Navy movies, (that is movies about the Navy on the water, not on land). Most of these are set in the Pacific Theatre because that’s where the larger naval battles took place fighting the Japanese. In the Atlantic, the U.S. Navy mostly fought the German U-boats attacking convoys headed for England.

5. The Enemy Below (1957)

Staring Robert Mitchum as Captain of an American destroyer escorting an Atlantic convoy and Curt Jurgens Captain of a German U-Boat. It’s a cat and mouse chase where the American Captain goes after the German Captain each gaining respect for the other. You’ll have to watch it to see how it ends. I’ll just say the end is exactly what you would expect – one sinks the other, but there’s more to it which makes the whole movie worthwhile.

4. Operation Pacific (1951)

John Wayne, Patricia Neal and Ward Bond star in the story of a submarine in the South Pacific dealing with torpedo’s that don’t explode when fired. After two encounters with the Japanese when their torpedo’s fail, the last ending in the death of the captain, Ward Bond, Executive Officer Wayne searches for a solution. My favorite aspect of this movie is the rekindled romance between Wayne and his ex-wife Patricia Neal, a Navy Nurse. There’s plenty of action to see in this movie, but the romance makes it one of my favorites.

3. PT-109 (1963)

The story of Pres. John Kennedy’s heroic actions during WWII. The film, made during Kennedy’s presidency, stars Cliff Robertson as Kennedy, Ty Hardin, Robert Culp, Robert Blake, and Norman Fell. After their small PT boat is rammed by a Japanese destroyer, Kennedy rescues a wounded crew member by swimming him ashore. He leads the crew on another dangerous swim before they are finally rescued after many days stranded on an island. Kennedy is a favorite of mine and this true story proves he was a real hero.

2. Midway (1976)

The 1942 Battle of Midway Island proves to be turning point in the Pacific. An impressive cast, including Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, James Coburn, Glenn Ford, Hal Holbrook, Robert Mitchum, Cliff Robertson, and Robert Wagner, depicts this epic battle at sea. This excellent war movie is one you should not miss.

1. In Harms Way (1965)

This epic naval war movie stars John Wayne, Patricia Neal, Kirk Douglas, and many more. The action starts on Dec. 7, 1941, in Pearl Harbor where Wayne, a determined Naval officer escapes with a small group of ships. Relieved from duty and put on a desk, he wants to get back in the fight. Again, the romance between Wayne and Patricia Neal, Navy Nurse. Other complications include Wayne meeting his estranged son, now in the Navy; the son’s romance; and Douglas’ drunken violence. Wayne gets himself reassigned to lead an important operation and the naval battles begin. As you can guess, I like the romance angle in this movie. It’s plot is complicated by complex characters, each with their own baggage. The acting is superb, as is the action, weaving an excellent movie I could watch over and over.

My Top Five Pacific & Asia WWII Movies

Although I tend to focus on the European Theater in WWII, the world war was fought all around the globe. One theater of war that tends to be forgotten was the “CBI” or China-Burma-India Theater. Not many movies were made about this theater. “Objective, Burma!” starring Errol Flynn is set in Burma and “Flying Tigers” starring John Wayne is set in China. These are good movies, but they aren’t my favorites. My list includes non-navy films set in Hawaii, The Philippines, Burma, and islands in the Pacific.

5. From Here to Eternity (1953)

Set in Honolulu, Hawaii, in the lead up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, “From Here to Eternity” is an iconic film that everyone should see. The ensemble cast consists of Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Montgomery Cliff, Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed and Ernest Borgnine. There’s no way I could leave this one out of my top five.

4. Father Goose (1964)

Cary Grant (one of my favorites) plays a coast watcher alone on an island when Leslie Caron and a dozen young girls are stranded there. Grant and Caron clash as Grant has to take responsibility for a group of females. Although there are Japanese attacks on the island, this fun film could be called a Rom-Com. A very enjoyable movie.

3. Never So Few (1959)

You may not be familiar with this film, but it is one of my favorites. It stars Frank Sinatra and Steve McQueen along with Paul Henreid, Gina Lolobridgeda, Peter Lawford, Charles Bronson and Dean Jones. Set in Burma, Sinatra leads a special operations group that joins with the locals to fight the Japanese. The fighting in the jungles of Burma may remind some of Vietnam.

2. They Were Expendable (1945)

Set in The Philippines when the Japanese invade right after Pearl Harbor, it stars John Wayne, Robert Montgomery, Donna Reed and Ward Bond. Wayne and Montgomery command torpedo boats who attack the Japanese as well as serve as messengers between the islands. Reed, a nurse and Wayne’s love interest, evacuates to Corregidor. As the Japanese take over the islands, the torpedo boats are ordered to transport General MacArthur and his family to a waiting submarine. As the title suggests, these men were expendable, left to fight a guerilla war alongside the locals.

1 Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)

Some of you may not be familiar with this film. I highly recommend that you find it and watch it. Filled with drama, action and poignant personal relationships, The movie stars Robert Mitchum as a stranded sailor who washes up on the beach of a South Pacific Island to find Deborah Kerr, a nun, its only inhabitant. Mitchum hides and protects Kerr when the Japanese occupy the island again. The movie is almost a love story except that Kerr remains loyal to her vows and Mitchum respects her decision as he sabotages the Japanese installation. Now I want to watch it again.

My Top Five WWII Air Corps Movies

Movies, Movies, Movies! I’ve been on a movie kick lately, especially the old ones that I love. This month I’m talking about my top five favorite WWII Air Corps movies. Love those fly boys.

5. A Guy Named Joe (1943)

Starring Spencer Tracy, Irene Dunne, and Van Johnson, in his first major role, this movie is romance within a romance with some flying and a ghost thrown in. Tracy, a B-25 bomber pilot, loves Dunne, an American flying with the British Air Transport Auxiliary. Tracy goes down with his plane after bombing a German ship. Then Tracy finds himself in heaven. A year later Tracy is sent to help a new pilot, played by Johnson, when he encounters a still grieving Dunn. Johnson and Dunne gradually fall in love (the second romance.) I’ll skip the exciting and danger-filled ending so you will have to find the movie and watch it for yourself.

4. Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944)

Depicting the famous Doolittle raid in 1942 is an all-star cast with Van Johnson, Phillis Thaxter, Robert Walker, Robert Mitchum and Spencer Tracy as Doolittle. Asked to volunteer for a secret mission, the men train to take off on very short runways. When their B-25 bombers are loaded on an aircraft carrier they know why. At sea they learn that they will bomb Tokyo. Spotted by a Japanese ship the planes must take off early. When they drop bombs on Tokyo the Japanese are completely surprised. Running low on fuel the crews must ditch in China and hope to reach allies. Despite severe wounds, the Chinese manage to get them out to return home. It’s an exciting and heart-wrenching movie.

3. Memphis Belle (1990)

Based on a documentary made by William Wyler during WWII, Memphis Belle depicts the 25th bombing mission for the crew – the the first to reach the number of missions required to go home. Matthew Modine, Eric Stoltz, and Harry Connick, Jr., and several other young actors play the pilots and crew. The movie is an exciting, nail-biting ride depicting an actual bombing mission over Europe and what the men went through. Like I said earlier, love those flyboys.

2. The War Lover (1962)

In the War Lover Steve McQueen plays an arrogant bomber pilot who, when not flying, goes to London to party. Despite his antics and ignoring orders, McQueen is the best pilot in the squadron and trusted by his co-pilot played by Robert Wagner. The love interest is Shirley Ann Field who chooses Wagner over McQueen. Wagner becomes disillusioned by McQueen’s attitude and actions. After their falling out, McQueen tries to force his attentions on Field who rejects him. On a long bombing mission their bomber is shot up badly and crew members are wounded or killed. They limp back toward England. Over the channel McQueen orders everyone to bail out. Wagner waits for McQueen to jump. Instead McQueen pushes Wagner out of the bomber, then tries to fly back to base alone. He crashes into the white cliffs. A sad ending which depicts the stress on pilots and their belief in inevitable death.

1. Twelve O’clock High (1949)

The absolute best Air Corps movie ever made, bar none. Even WWII veterans say it is an accurate depiction of what a Group leader, played by Gregory Peck, went through. The cast includes Dean Jagger, who won the best supporting actor Oscar, Hugh Marlowe, Gary Merrill, and Millard Mitchell. Sent in to straighten out a poorly performing Group, Peck’s strict rules and abrupt manner have everyone requesting a transfer. Using delaying tactics, Peck whips the Group into shape and earns their respect by flying with them in the lead plane. Like his predecessor Peck becomes to involved with and attached to his men. The stress of leading so many to their deaths finally causes him to break. A great movie that everyone should see, even if you aren’t a WWII buff like me.

Do you have a favorite WWII Air Corps movie? Let me know in the comments.

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My Top Five WWII Home-Front Movies

Some of my favorite WW II films are set in the United States or on the “home-front.” These helped inspire me to write stories set on the “home front” as well as overseas. On the “home-front” almost everyone contributed to the war effort so there are many, many stories to be told. Here are my top five favorites in reverse order.

5. Saboteur (1942)

This Alfred Hitchcock thriller is a wartime, “home-front” movie as well as a romance. In the film Robert Cummings tries to clear his name by chasing down an arsonist only to become entangled with a spy ring trying to blow up Hoover Dam. Priscilla Lane and her uncle help him, and she becomes caught up in the action. Cummings suspects Norman Lloyd as the German spy. In New York the German sympathizers attempt to destroy a new battleship and are foiled by Cummings and Lane. They chase the spies through Radio City Music Hall. The climactic scene at the top of the Statue of Liberty is incredible, especially considering the technology of the time. Of course, Cummings and Lane get together in the end.

4. The Clock (1945)

This movie is definitely a wartime love story. Judy Garland accidently trips over Robert Walker’s foot in Pennsylvania Station. He’s on 48 hours leave before he has to ship out. He asks her out that evening, and they agree to meet under the Clock at the Astor Hotel. After dinner they end up spending the night delivering milk then have breakfast with the milkman and his wife. Garland and Walker become separated in a crowded subway and desperately try to find each other without knowing last names. Back at the train station they reunite and Walker asks Garland to marry him. They spend his last day of leave fighting red tape to get married before he leaves. Then they must say good-bye until he returns from the war. (Tear-jerker time)

3. The Human Comedy (1943)

Mickey Rooney stars as a teenager in a small town who delivers telegrams for Western Union. The poignant drama depicts the human side of war as Mickey delivers the news of a loved one lost in battle, while his own brother is serving overseas. A romance between his boss and a local girl stalls when he joins the military and leaves for service. Over time the whole town feels the effects of the war. This is my favorite Mickey Rooney movie.

2. Since You Went Away (1944)

Claudette Colbert’s husband leaves wife and daughters (Jennifer Jones and Shirley Temple) to fight the war. Life quickly changes – from taking in a boarder to losing their cook to war work to Jones working in a hospital full of wounded soldiers to Jones falling for a soldier to Colbert learning to weld. The family evolves and grows and learns to cope with all the changes brought on by the war. I love the depiction of strong women on the “home-front” not only keeping life going but also contributing to the war effort.

1. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Absolutely my favorite WWII movie. Three men, a soldier (Frederic March) a sailor (Harold Russell) and an airman (Dana Andrews) return home together and try to adjust to civilian life. There’s awkwardness between March, his wife (Myrna Loy), daughter (Teresa Wright) and teenage son and trouble returning to his banking job. Russell must adapt to life without his hands and decide whether to marry his long-time girl friend. Andrews struggles to find work while his war-time bride (Virginia Mayo) wants to party all the time. The film won several Oscars including Best Picture.

Some other “home-front” movies I recommend are: Miracle in the Rain, Tender Comrade and A League of Their Own.

My Top “Five” Favorite Comedies Set In WWII

I love old movies! Black and White or Color, doesn’t matter to me. And there are some old but excellent comedies set during WWII that I love. The Second World War is usually a very serious time yet some crazy things happened. I am certain that the men and women of the time couldn’t have survived without a little comedy. Even after the war, some situations were just too funny to ignore so film makers went to work.

I had a hard time narrowing the list to five, so….here are my top five, with a couple of ties.

#5 – Buck Privates with Abbott and Costello. Actually made in 1941 before the war started, it’s about two men who accidently enlist in the Army. They think they are signing up for prizes. If you’ve ever seen Abbott and Costello you know that their slap-stick comedy is hilarious, even now. They bumble their way through basic training including a great routine with the drill instructor. The cast includes the Andrews Sisters who sing several numbers including “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” If you haven’t seen this one, it is an absolute must.

#4 (Tie) – The More The Merrier with Joel McCrea, Jean Arthur and Charles Coburn. Based on the shortage of hotel rooms and apartments in Washington, D.C., in 1943, Jean Arthur wants to rent out half of her apartment. Coburn, an older man, rents the room, then turns around and rents half of his room to a soldier waiting to ship out. Without telling Jean, of course. This is when the fun begins. At that time it was definitely improper for a young woman and a young man to share an apartment if they weren’t married so she tries to kick the soldier out. One thing leads to another hilarious situation. Definitely a Rom Com for those fans with a set up that could only have happened during the war.

#4 Tie) – To Be Or Not To Be with Jack Benny and Carol Lombard. 1942 dark comedy with Jack Benny impersonating Hitler. Can you imagine? Maybe you have to be a Jack Benny fan but his deadpan looks paired with Carol Lombard’s perfect comedic timing make this a truly funny movie. Not for everybody but I love it.

#3 – Operation Petticoat with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis. As you can see from this list, I love Cary Grant comedies. Operation Petticoat (1959) is the story of a badly damaged WWII submarine that, after scrounging parts for repairs, rescues a group of nurses from a Pacific Island. Unable to get rid of the nurses and badly needing to put a primer coat of paint on the barely seaworthy vessel, they mix red and white primer and paint the submarine pink. Their intention was to cover it with gray but a Japanese air raid sends them to sea, still pink. Grant and Curtis play off each other perfectly. And the nurses add more comedy. You’ll love this colorful film as much as I do.

#2 (tie) – I was a Male War Bride with Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan. The title of this 1949 comedy explains it all. A French Army Captain marries an American female soldier (WAC) while both were stationed in Germany right after the war. Trying to comply with Army regulations for transporting War Brides to the U.S. proves almost impossible but love and comedy find a way. I love this movie. Even if you don’t like black and white you need to watch this one.

#2 (Tie) – Father Goose with Cary Grant and Leslie Caron. Still another Cary Grant comedy (1964). This time he is a coast watcher on a deserted Pacific island. A hermit with a radio until he rescues a French woman and seven young school girls. Stranded on the island together until the Navy can arrange to pick them up the situation turns hilarious. The fastidious French woman and the slovenly hermit have enough friction, then throw in curious and/or frightened young girls and the laughs multiply. Another for you who like color in your Rom Com’s.

#1Mister Roberts with Henry Fonda and Jack Lemmon with William Powell and James Cagney. My favorite of all. Made in 1955, this ensemble of characters are on a supply ship somewhere in the Pacific far from the actual fighting. Mister Roberts (Fonda) keeps requesting a transfer so he can get into the war, but the grouchy Captain (Cagney) refuses. The Captain takes out his frustration on Mister Roberts who tries his best to protect the bored and lonesome crew from their superior officer’s rants and quirks about his palm tree. Lemmon, who plays the Laundry and Morale Officer, avoids the captain at all costs while Powell the “Doc” provides solace to Roberts. After many antics Roberts gets his transfer from a grateful crew who forged the Captain’s signature. This movie has fun and drama. Bored men stuck on a ship in the pacific create their own brand of comedy.

Okay, so I cheated a little. I could have included these: Don’t Go Near the Water with Glenn Ford; No Time for Sergeants with Andy Griffith; Catch 22 with Alan Arkin; or Kelly’s Heroes with Clint Eastwood. Watch some old movies and have some fun.

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Film posters are used under the “fair use” doctrine to review the films and encourage the public to view the films.

The Many Roles of the American Red Cross During WWII

While researching WWII, I kept seeing the American Red Cross involved in a number of areas so I decided to look at what the organization did during that time. I found so much that it will take more than one post to cover everything.

First, a bit of background. The American Red Cross was founded in 1905 and charged with providing “volunteer aid in time of war to the sick and wounded of the armed forces” and with providing communications between the people and the military. The ARC was also to provide relief from suffering “caused by pestilence, famine, fire, floods and other great national calamities.”

That’s a tall order. And it encompasses a wide range of activities. In this first post I’m going focus on some of the Red Cross activities in the medical field.

Red Cross Nurses

The American Red Cross trained and certified nurses for service in the military beginning before the First World War. World War II created a shortage of trained nurses in the United States as civilian nurses joined the Army and Navy Nurse Corps. More were needed as the casualties increased, not only overseas but also in the numerous military hospitals established across the country. On the home front the nurses trained by the Red Cross filled the vacancies caused by military service and took on the medical care of civilians. Also Red Cross Volunteer Nurses Aides and Volunteer Dietitian Aides provided assistance to both military and civilian hospitals. Again, the Red Cross trained these volunteers.

Blood and Plasma

Even before the U.S. entered the war, the American Red Cross began to collect blood and process it into liquid plasma to send to England where the fighting and bombing had created a shortage. Under the direction of Dr. Charles Drew, the African-American blood specialist, that effort succeeded. After that the military asked the Red Cross to set up a Blood Donor Service to collect blood donations and process the blood into dried blood plasma that could be more easily stored and shipped overseas. Dr. Drew headed this up and before the Japanese attack in December 1941 blood donation centers had been set up across the country including a number of mobile units. The dried blood plasma saved many lives on the battlefield and the program served as a model for post-war civilian blood collection.

Gray Lady Corps, Recreation in Hospitals and Additional Supplies to Hospitals

Nurses weren’t the only Red Cross presence in military hospitals. The Gray Ladies were Red Cross volunteers who provided whatever services the wounded men needed. They might play a game of cards or write a letter home, they might run an errand or simply listen to a lonely soldier. The Gray Ladies organized ward parties, set up art exhibits or brought in theatrical performances to hospitals where men were recovering from wounds. The Red Cross set up local councils in the cities where hospitals were located to provide supplies not available through the military. Requests from the hospital went to these local councils who worked with local businesses to provide things like musical instruments, sports equipment, furniture, magazines and newspapers.

In my next novel Kitty’s brother Milton, who was wounded in Normandy, is recovering in a state-side Army hospital where he encounters nurses (many trained by the Red Cross) and Gray Ladies who help him and other soldiers. He also helps with obtaining sports equipment from local businesses for rehabilitating the wounded. In A War Apart after Guy was wounded the medics started an IV before his surgery, most likely from the blood plasma produced by the Red Cross. So you see, my research often included the Red Cross in some way.

My next post will continue with services provided by the Red Cross during World War II.

Meanwhile, sign up for my newsletter using this link to keep up with me and my writing career.

A War Apart Release Day

Today is Veterans Day which is so appropriate for my second World War II novel, A War Apart, released today by my publisher, The Wild Rose Press. It is a story of young people during the tumultuous and uncertain years of World War II. A chance encounter between a grieving widow, still angry at her cheating husband, and a lonely soldier headed overseas to fight the Germans becomes so much more.

I am excited to share some great early reviews for A War Apart. Perhaps these will encourage you to read it yourself.

“A lovely war-time romance chronicling love lost and found. You’ll feel like you stepped back in time to the 1940’s.”

Valerie Bowman, Award-Winning Historical Romance Author

 

“I thoroughly enjoyed this heartwarming story of life and love during WW2. Guy and Rosemary are well-drawn, endearing characters and I eagerly turned pages, rooting for their happy ending. Ms. Whitaker’s knowledge of history adds depth to every page of A War Apart. A wonderful second book from a talented author.”

                        ~Connie Mann author of the Safe Harbor and Florida Wildlife Warrior series

 

A sweeping historical saga with a unique, touching love story.

A War Apart, by Barbara Whitaker, is a sweet and refreshingly different historical romance set during WW II. The author weaves in details about the societal norms of that time and the world events of the 1940s in a natural way, transporting the reader back to that era without it feeling like a history lesson. The couple meets early on, then most of the book switches between vignettes of their lives apart, with them not getting back together until near the end. This isn’t the typical formula for a love story, but it works. We feel their love growing for each other through the letters they exchange. And we find ourselves rooting for them to work through their angst and despair and find a way to be together. I read this in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was given an ARC (advance Reader Copy) of this book.

Lena Diaz, multi-published award-winning author

 

 

Barbara Whitaker’s A War Apart is a riveting novel set during WWII that has been researched to perfection. Whitaker brings history to life with her incredible descriptions and presents us with an entirely plausible way for two people to find love during such tumultuous times where war has pushed them apart. The letters exchanged between Rosemary and Guy were such a sweet way to watch them fall for one another and made the reunion at the end all the more exciting. This is a fantastic book that will draw you in by the heart and stay with you long after you’ve finished reading!

~Madeline Martin, USA Today Bestselling Author of Scottish Romance