A showcase of our most treasured collections selected by VHP staff members. The written descriptions of these veterans’ stories highlight the diversity and dramatic content of our holdings. View additional staff favorites.
to Robert Sidney's Collection
During World War II, fear and homesickness plagued all soldiers.
The U.S. Army knew that bolstering troops’ morale would help
them survive. “This Is the Army” was the Army’s
light-hearted all-soldiers revue-style entertainment, written by
Irving Berlin and put on by GIs and for GIs around the globe, from
1942 through 1945. Robert (Bob) Sidney’s oral history and
photograph collection take us behind the scenes of that unlikely
yet memorable show, and reveal another side of wartime.
All the musicians, actors, dancers, and production people involved
with “This Is the Army” had been in show business as
civilians. Draftee Bob Sidney, a dancer/choreographer, was transferred
to the This Is the Army Detachment in the Army’s Special Services
Division, to become the principal choreographer for the show. The
show made its debut on Broadway on July 4, 1942, to raise funds
for servicemen’s families. “This Is The Army”
went on the road around the globe, wherever GIs were stationed--
in Italy, Egypt, and on many Pacific islands; in bombed-out buildings,
field hospitals, and landing strips--until war’s end in 1945.
The racially-integrated company of 150 men formed a special bond,
sometimes performing under terrible conditions. The members of the
road company remained on detachment under General Dwight D. Eisenhower,
who felt the show reminded American soldiers of home. In Bob Sidney’s
story, we see how show business played a part in WWII.
Chosen by Sarah Rouse, Senior Program Officer.
Sarah received her M.L.S. from Catholic University. She came to
the Veterans History Project from the Library's Prints & Photographs
Division in April 2001.
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