Vintage WWII Photos Reveal Intimate Bonding, Naked Horseplaying Of Soldiers & Sailors

A new book by Scotty Bowers and photographer Michael Stokes, takes a fascinating look at the tight “buddy” relationships commanders encouraged their troops to engage in to bolster morale during World War II.

 

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The description to “My Buddy. World War II Laid Bare” details Michael Stokes search for over 400 vintage photos, revealing WWII soldiers and sailors bonding in the buff:

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 play—sometimes naked play.

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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.

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Los Angeles photographer Michael Stokes has spent years searching out these photos and building an archive of over 400 images. His collection includes soldiers and sailors from England, Germany, Poland, Russia, and the U.S.A., 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.

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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.

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Out Magazine adds:

There was a certain amount of what they call grab-ass in the service, which is what you see in these pictures.
“Playing grab-ass,” but only when you’re not in combat. You know, it’s just like a bunch of kids together. These guys were all young in the Marine Corps, 18, 19, 20, and they might play grab-ass when they’re swimming in the ocean or swimming in a river. And someone could possibly take a picture.

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You can pre-order your copy on Amazon here.

[ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF TASCHEN. THE MICHAEL STOKES COLLECTION (SUN BATHERS). THE JIM HEIMANN COLLECTION (SHOWER). THE DIAN HANSON COLLECTION (CLIFF DIVE) via Out.com]

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