Yank, the Army Weekly was one of the finest military publications of World War II. Its unique motto, “By the men…for the men in service,” ably summed up its core mission.
When it came to war reportage and military affairs, no magazine delivered like Yank, the Army Weekly. Born in World War II, Yank was on the scene for only three years, but during that brief period this unique GI tabloid won the hearts and minds of America’s Greatest Generation.
Yank Began Publishing in 1942
Yank was founded by Major Hartzell Spence in May 1942. Established primarily to inform and entertain the men of the United States Army, Yank was staffed exclusively by enlisted men who served as the magazine’s editors, correspondents, photographers, cartoonists and illustrators. Many of Yank’s staff members were eminently qualified, having worked in civilian life for big city dailies, slick magazines and small town newspapers.
Vol. 1, No. 1 of Yank rolled off the presses bearing the cover date June 17, 1942, with the headline: “FDR: Why We Fight.”
Yank Produced 21 Editions
Yank was published in 21 editions in 17 locations. The magazine’s domestic edition was produced at their main editorial offices in New York City. Other Yank editions were published around the globe in such far-flung places as London, Honolulu, Sydney, Rome, Paris, Cairo, Tehran, Calcutta, Puerto Rico, The Aleutians, Panama and Strasbourg.
As the Allies advanced, so did the offices of Yank. The Paris edition made its first appearance in September 1944 and was printed on the same rotogravure press that the German Army newspaper, Wehrmacht, had been published on weeks before the Allied liberation.
Yank even published a small pony-sized air mail edition for use by American troops on some of the more remote islands of the Pacific.
Yank’s Outstanding War Reportage
Yank quickly established itself as one of the war’s premier magazines. Its outstanding war reportage was second to none, as witnessed by a vast array of first-hand, eyewitness battle accounts. Among the best entries: “Infantry Battle in New Georgia” by Sgt. Mack Moriss, “Blown Off the Deck of an LST” by Sgt. James P. O’Neill, “The Dead End Kids” (from Burma) by Sgt. Dave Richardson and “Cameraman in Cassino” by Sgt. George Aarons.
In one article, “Schweinfurt Raid,” Yank correspondent Sgt. Walter Peters not only accompanied the B-17 Yank on its perilous mission over the skies of Germany but manned a .50-caliber machine gun as well. Upon landing back at their bomber base in England, Peters cabled his stunning eyewitness account to Yank’s editorial offices.
“Our formation across the North Sea was perfect,” Peters wrote in describing the massive American raid. “We led the ‘Purple Heart’ elements, and in front of us the sky was literally clouded by B-17s. We counted as many as 190 and then quit counting.”
Several of Yank’s correspondents and photographers lost their lives while carrying out their hazardous assignments. Sgt. John A. Bushemi, one of Yank’s most talented photographers, was killed during the invasion of Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands. Likewise, Sgt. Peter Paris lost his life while storming bloody Omaha Beach with the U.S. First Infantry Division on D-Day.
Yank’s Cartoons, Humor, Pin-ups
In addition to its magnificent war reportage, Yank also contained a number of other features. The magazine’s cartoons were especially well-received, showcasing the talents of such GI contributors as Sgt. Ralph Stein, Sgt. Frank Brandt, Sgt. Al Jafee, Corporal Ernest Maxwell (a.k.a. Cpl. Emax), Private Thomas Flannery and Sgt. George Baker (creator of “The Sad Sack”).
Humorous articles also populated the pages of Yank. A few hilarious examples: “Invasion of Mae West’s Dressing Room” by Sgt. Al Hine, “A Dogface Answers a Collection Agency” by Pvt. Oris Turner and “Hopeless McGonigle’s Brother Wins the DSC” by S/Sgt. L.A. Brodsky.
One of the magazine’s most popular features was the Yank Pin-up Girl, which featured a bevy of beautiful starlets and models. Among the Hollywood famous were: Lauren Bacall, Rita Hayworth, Carole Landis, Betty Grable, Martha Vickers, Ann Miller, Dorothy Lamour and Lizabeth Scott.
Yank’s Famous Contributors
Yank could boast of a handful of GI contributors and staff members who later found fame in civilian life. Among the roster: Pfc. Irwin Shaw, acclaimed novelist and author of The Young Lions and Rich Man, Poor Man; Sgt. Marion Hargrove, author of the bestseller See Here, Private Hargrove; Sgt. Walter Bernstein, Hollywood screenwriter; Pfc. Bil Keane, creator of the popular cartoon strip The Family Circus; and Sgt. Merle Miller, bestselling author and motion picture writer.
Yank’s Final Edition in 1945
Yank, with an honorable discharge gracing its cover, published its final edition on December 28, 1945. The war had ended three months earlier, and like an old soldier Yank merely faded away into history…