Every harrowing day for a serviceman during World War II was potentially his last. To help bolster troops against the horrors of combat, commanders encouraged them to form tight “buddy” relationships for emotional support. Many war buddies, together every moment, and depending on each other to survive, formed intimate friendships. When they weren’t fighting side by side, they relaxed together, discharging tension in boisterous―sometimes naked―play. The full extent of nude horseplay among men during World War II can’t be known, as cameras were rare and film hard to process, but some men did document this unprecedented male bonding in small, anonymous photos mostly kept hidden away until their deaths.
Los Angeles photographer Michael Stokes has spent years searching out these photos and building an archive of over 500 images. His collection includes soldiers and sailors from Australia, England, France, Italy, Poland, Russia, and the USA, cavorting on the sand in the South Pacific, shivering in the snow of Eastern Europe, posing solo in the barracks, and in great happy groups just about everywhere. These images show men barely out of boyhood, at their physical peak, responding to the reality of battle by living each day to the fullest―a side of the war never before made public.
I personally have read this book and I can tell you, the photos and the text all transport the viewer to a far distant time and give you an entirely new take on what it was like during the quiet times between fighting. The male bonding, the brotherhood of the soldiers, is beautiful depicted in this priceless collection of photos. It is historic, it is artistic, it is sociological, it is simply so many things wrapped up in one. I recommend it to get a glimpse of simpler times in our nations history.
A copy of this publication is available on Amazon.