Army Days

Yank Magazine illustrations by Paul Galdone
Galdone was drafted into the Army when the United States entered WWII and was assigned to the 77th division of the 307th Infantry Regiment. While with the 77th he was became involved in the design of camouflage. One of these projects was a netting that hung from a soldierʼs helmet so that when the soldier would crouch or kneel he would resemble a tree stump (shown at lower right). The design was well received and Galdone was sent on a tour of camps throughout the South to demonstrate it.

He rose quickly to Staff Sergeant and was sent to Officer Candidate School (OCS) but “washed out” because of a lack of math skills. While in training with the prospect of being sent overseas, he was pulled out of exercises and told to report to the commanding Colonel. Fearing the worst, he was relieved when the Colonel took a fishing lure out of his desk. “I understand youʼre an artist,” he said. “See this lure? The fish just arenʼt biting on it and I want you to change the color of it for me.” This unlikely break lead Galdone to be assigned to the Engineer School at Fort Belvoir, Va., where he worked in the Publication Section on Training Aids. There he spent the rest of the war years working on artwork for manuals, filmstrips and posters, working alongside artists and illustrators, some of whom he became lifelong friends.

His wife, Jannelise, joined him at Fort Belvoir where she worked for the engineers in the drafting department and photo lab. They lived on the post and Galdone was able to do some occasional sketching and painting in the surrounding countryside and draw informal portraits. He also contributed to the Army magazine Yank and exhibited oil paintings.