A series following the story of my father in World War II 75 years ago. This updates the series Following the 10th Armored that I did five years ago. The beginning posts set the stage for 1944 and 1945 when he was in Europewith the 10th Armored Division's 80th Armored Medical Battalion.

A Pause to Remember

    ◆    75 years ago this week
    ◆    July 23-25, 1944

Soviet troops liberated the first of the concentration camps- Majdanek in Poland.
In Guns at Last Light, the third book of his amazing trilogy on World War II, Rick Atkinson says that at this point, the war came to have a "vivid moral structure." As the Allies were moving toward Paris, the Soviet troops in Poland had arrived at the Majdanek camp. A New York Times reporter said, "I have just seen the most terrible place on the face of the earth." (Atkinson, p. 183ff)

He had no idea that he had only seen the tiniest glimpse into a horror that we still have difficulty putting into perspective. The full horror that would be unveiled in the winter and spring of 1945 still stuns and paralyzes the imagination.

# 25- A Popular Culture Interlude

◆ 75 Years Ago
◆ July 15, 1944
#1 on the Billboard Top 100:
"I’ll Be Seeing You"- Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra

The home front in World War II was as much involved in the war as could be possible. From the World War II Museum website:
World War II touched virtually every part of American life, even things so simple as the food people ate, the films they watched, and the music they listened to. The war, especially the effort of the Allies to win it, was the subject of songs, movies, comic books, novels, artwork, comedy routines—every conceivable form of entertainment and culture. … World War II and the popular culture of that era are interconnected; the story of one cannot be fully told without the story of the other.
By this time in the war people also relied on popular culture to both inspire and help them forget, at least for a moment or two, what was going on overseas. Happy songs, songs of longing, songs of hope, songs of sadness were all part of the music scene when people went to buy records. For 1944, here were the top songs on the Billboard charts ranked by the number of weeks they were #1.

Top Songs of 1944 (by weeks at #1)
1. Swinging’ on a Star- Bing Crosby (9 weeks)
2. B├ęsame Mucho - Jimmy Dorsey (7 weeks)
3. My Heart Tells Me- Glen Gray (5 weeks)
3. I Love You- Bing Crosby (5 weeks)
3. You Always Hurt the One You Love- Mills Brothers (5 weeks)
6. Paper Doll- Mills Brothers (4 weeks)
6. I’ll Get By- Harry James (4 weeks)
6. I’ll Be Seeing You- Bing Crosby (4 weeks)
6. I’ll Walk Alone- Dinah Shore (4 weeks)
10. It’s Love, Love, Love- Guy Lombardo (2 weeks)
10. I’m Making Believe- Ink Spots/Ella Fitzgerald (2 weeks)

The Jukebox at restaurants and bars had a different set. Sometimes they were still being played a year after released. Sometimes they were songs that didn’t sell as many records, but people would drop their coin into the jukebox to hear it. Two of the biggies in 1944 bring to mind an image of people standing around a jukebox and laughing, singing, and dancing to these two.

On the Jukebox
"G. I. Jive"- Louis Jordan

"(There'll Be a) Hot Time in the Town of Berlin (When the Yanks Go Marching In)"- Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters with Vic Schoen and His Orchestra

Radio was the source of more than just music alone. It was the TV of its day. The top radio shows of 1944 show the normal mix of comedy, music, variety, plays, and even sit-com.

Bob Hope
Fibber McGee and Molly
Lux Radio Theatre
Walter Winchell
Bing Crosby
Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy
Jack Benny
Abbot and Costello

Entertainment was the diversion many needed. And it was provided.

◆    75 Years Ago    
◆    July 1944
In mid-July, the Allies disembarked nearly 1,500,000 soldiers in Normandy, a total of 36 divisions, as well as 300,000 vehicles. 54,000 tons of material are landed each day on the beaches of Utah and Omaha, as well as at Arromanches, where the artificial harbor operated 24 hours a day. -Link