Rescue Flag

Helen McGuirk, although only a teenager during World War II, was very active in the USO during and after the war. She made friends with many servicemen who sent her war-related memorabilia such as the rescue flag displayed here. Airmen who served in the China-Burma-India Theater used this flag in case they were shot down. In seven languages, the flag identifies the carrier as an American flyer who needs help and explains that the United States government will compensate for any help given. Airmen used similar flags in the European Theater of Operations. Helen McGuirk donated the collection.

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Stars Shining Yet Somber

During World War II, USO hostess Clare Marie Crane's husband and two brothers served in the military. Crane placed a flag in her window with three stars symbolizing her three loved ones serving in the military-a common practice during this time. Her husband Lieutenant Herbert George Johns, died of leukemia overseas just ten days after the initial diagnosis. When Crane received the telegram that her husband had died she did not know he had been ill. Upon learning of his death, she placed an embroidered gold star over her husband's star on the flag. Clare Marie Crane donated the collection.

"Window Banner," 1942-1944. Flag. Clare Marie Crane Collection, Veterans History Project, Library of Congress (87)

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Homespun America

M. Gertrude Hawkey's brother, Jeffrey D. Conway, was stationed in Polzig, Germany, after the war ended in Europe. Conway and others in his company wanted an American flag so they asked the local tailor in Polzig to help them create one. They used an old Nazi flag for the red, bed sheets for the white, and petticoat material for the blue. Three weeks later, an American flag waved in Polzig. Conway's letter explains the making of the flag in more detail. The photograph shows the Hawkey family with the flag. M. Gertrude Hawkey presented her brother's handmade American flag to Marathon Music and Video Representatives Lanny Lee and Gary Rhay for donation to the Library of Congress.

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The Blue Ridge Path

Technician LeRoy Paul Baker served in the 80th Infantry Division, nicknamed the "Blue Ridge Division," that compiled and drew the displayed map, showing the "Blue Ridge Path," the route the division followed through France, Luxembourg, Germany, and Austria. Note the attack arrows into Europe and the returning arrows leaving Europe. Senator Richard Lugar donated the LeRoy Paul Baker Collection along with more than 1600 other veterans' collections.

"The Blue Ridge Path," May 22, 1945. Map. LeRoy Paul Baker Collection, Veterans History Project, Library of Congress (78)

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England and Beyond

First Lieutenant Benjamin Witten served as navigator on bombing raids for the Army Air Force during World War II. This map details the distance from England to bombing locations in Europe. Rochelle G. Witten, daughter of Benjamin Witten, donated the collection.

"Raids," July 1942. Map. Benjamin Witten Collection, Veterans History Project, Library of Congress (79)

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Stafford Maps: A View from Above

Staff Sergeant Horace Stafford served in the Army Air Force Medical Department during World War II. He was stationed at the Eighth Air Force Headquarters in Pinetree, England. The displayed maps of Cologne, Frankfurt, and Mannheim-Ludwigshafen show three German cities that Stafford flew over during the Victory Air Flight in May 1945. The Victory Air Flight highlighted places that Allies bombed during World War II. Cologne was a major industrial and transportation center for the Third Reich. Frankfurt was an industrial location where key railroads intersected. Mannheim-Ludwigshafen produced valued commodities, such as oil and rubber. Horace Stafford donated the collection.

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John Manger: Bridging the Gaps of War

In September 1944, John Philip Manger, Captain, U.S. Army, 164th Engineer Battalion, was assigned the mission of constructing a permanent class 70 bridge at Dinant, Belgium, across the Meuse River. There were no construction materials available in the vicinity of the bridge site, no plans for the bridge, and no survey had been conducted. The materials reconnaissance, design drawing, surveying of the site, and construction of the bridge all began simultaneously. The reports on display document the building of the bridge. Douglas Manger, the son of John Manger, donated these reports, which are only part of his father's extensive collection.

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  • Drawing: Traffic circulation at Dinant Bridge (Belgium). Drawings traced and reproduced by 164th Engineer Combat Battalion, 1st Army, 1944. John Manger Collection, Veterans History Project, Library of Congress (82)

  • Report on Dinant Bridge, Dinant, Belgium. Built by 164th Engineer Combat Battalion, ca. 1944. John Manger Collection, Veterans History Project, Library of Congress (83)

  • Drawing: Timber Bridge-Meuse River, Dinant Belgium, Headquarters, U.S. Army 164th Engineer Battalion, Corp of Engineers, First Army Drawings, ca. 1944. John Manger Collection, Veterans History Project, Library of Congress (84)

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The Route of the Ninth Division

Technical Sergeant Alfred R. Benoit served in the 9th Infantry Division. Benoit traveled extensively throughout Europe, as shown in this map that illustrates the routes taken by his division during World War II. The titles "NATOUSA" and "ETOUSA" stand for the "North African Theatre Operation" and the "European Theatre Operation," with U.S.A. added to each. Noella Lucy Benoit, wife of Alfred Benoit, donated the collection.

"The Route of The Ninth Division Thru The NATOUSA & ETOUSA," November 8, 1942-August 1945. Map. Alfred R. Benoit Collection, Veterans History Project, Library of Congress (81)

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Air Strike and Return to Base

Lieutenant Colonel Richard Pierson served in the Air Force during the Korean War and the Vietnam War. During the Vietnam War, Pierson was assigned to Bien Hoa Air Base in Vietnam. On August 17, 1963, Pierson was called to refuel his plane at Pleiku Air Base and then strike a force of Viet Cong who had attacked a Special Forces outpost the previous night. Pierson destroyed several camouflaged locations where the Viet Cong were hiding and then flew back to Bien Hoa Air Base. The target map and briefing information shown here are the originals that Pierson used on this mission.

"Air Commando Close Air Support Mission for Special Forces," August 17,1963. Map. Richard Pierson Collection, Veterans History Project, Library of Congress (85)

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