Bill’s Maudlin Humor: WWII as seen through the cartoons of Bill Mauldin
By: Lauren Wong
Lauren Wong presents her exhibit on Bill Mauldin.
December 7, 1941 was the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor; it was also the day the U.S. entered WWII. When the Army shipped out, they brought nine Divisions of National Guardsmen with them. The 45th ID was one of the largest and they took a large part in the campaign that led them into North Africa and into the boot of Italy. Bill Mauldin was one of these infantrymen and his widely recognized “Willie and Joe” cartoons famously chronicled their trek across war-torn Europe.
Because he was a soldier himself, his characters “Willie and Joe” were instantly relatable to other infantrymen and he quickly became a beloved face among the disgruntled G.I.s in wartime. The museum’s newest Intern Exhibit, “Bill’s Maudlin Humor: WWII as seen through the cartoons of Bill Mauldin,” features the work and influence of Bill Mauldin during his wartime years.
Bill Mauldin started out as an Arizona National Guardsman and he later served as a “Thunderbird” in the 45th ID (AZ, CO, NM, OK). Mauldin became infamous for his cartoons of Willie and Joe, the everyman soldier, because they portrayed what life was really like for the infantry soldier on the frontlines. With a dash of morbid humor, Willie and Joe are seen slogging through the mud and rubble of Italy, toughing it out in the extreme weather, and generally trying to survive the boredom and fighting that their lives have devolved into.
For his work as a wartime cartoonist, Mauldin won two Pulitzer Prizes for Editorial Cartoons (1945 and 1959). “Willie and Joe” would also see a resurgence in popularity among beleaguered G.I.s in the Korean and Vietnam Wars as well. Even today, “Willie and Joe” still live on among soldiers, proving that “old soldiers never die.” And, due to Willie and Joe’s stubborn refusal to die, they have yet to fade away.
If you remember Bill Mauldin or “Willie and Joe,” please share your stories with us by using the hashtag #MaudlinBill on Twitter (@NGMuseum) or Facebook (@NationalGuardMemorialMuseum).
– Exhibit by Lauren Wong, GWU Museum Studies Intern, Fall 2018.
April 25, 2022
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, adjutant general of the California National Guard, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine, and California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, visited the California Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing at Moffett Air National Guard Base, California, Sept. 2, 2021.(Courtesy of national guard.mil) The National Guard’s State Partnership Program (SPP) has evolved [...]
April 8, 2022
By William Roulett Capt. Edward Lingo(Courtesy of the New Mexico National Guard Museum) April 9, 2022, marks the 80th anniversary of the start of the Bataan Death March. Orchestrated by the Imperial Japanese Army, some 60,000-80,000 American and Filipino Prisoners of War (POWs) were brutally forced to march more than 60 miles from Mariveles, at [...]
March 29, 2022
Maj. Gen. Roberta V. MillsMarch 18, 1938 – April 20, 2021(Courtesy of Roberta V. Mills Estate) By William Roulett As Women’s History Month draws to a close, we at the National Guard Memorial Museum reflect on the life of Major General Roberta V. Mills. Mills accomplished much in her 83 years, including a 33-year career [...]
February 11, 2022
President Lincoln’s Militia Service (Courtesy of NGEF) By Kevin Brown Abraham Lincoln served as the 16th President of the United States from 1861 before being assassinated in 1865. During his early days in office, the United States plunged into a bloody civil war between northern and southern states over slavery. Prior to his presidency, Lincoln, [...]
February 4, 2022
By: Kevin Brown Troops of the 370th in France(Photo Courtesy of Army.mil) Since the Revolutionary War, African Americans have made countless contributions to the National Guard. Prominent segregated National Guard units distinguished themselves during the First World War, such as Illinois’ 370h infantry regiment. Unlike the Harlem Hell fighters, which formed just before the Great [...]
May 20, 2020
In January and February of 1918, a flu virus quietly spread through sleepy Haskell County, Kansas, with a human population of 1,720 dispersed over nearly 600 acres. By the time the Spanish Flu burnt itself out globally, over 21,000,000 people would be dead. As the virus worked its way through Haskell County, young American [...]
July 12, 2019
Always Ready, Always There: My Story of Hope September 11, 2001 was a defining moment for many of us, but even more so for CW4 Clifford Bauman. CW4 Bauman was on his way to the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 struck the building, and Bauman sprang [...]
December 6, 2018
Bill’s Maudlin Humor: WWII as seen through the cartoons of Bill Mauldin By: Lauren Wong December 7, 1941 was the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor; it was also the day the U.S. entered WWII. When the Army shipped out, they brought nine Divisions of National Guardsmen with them. The 45th ID was one of [...]
November 20, 2018
A Heartfelt Reunion at the End of World War I Jonathan W. White In the digital age it is common for cell phone videos to capture the moment when a deployed soldier or sailor reunites with his or her family. Often these [...]
November 29, 2017
Remember to Write: 150 Years of Letters Home Writing home has always been a part of the National Guard’s history tracing back to the colonial militias. Letters and packages from love ones are a crucial factor in maintaining high spirits and morale. They provide a brief escape to normalcy during times of conflict [...]