Hey all! I hope you are have a great 2017 so far! I recently came upon a book by  Walton H. Rawls, titled Disney Dons Dogtags. It tells the history of Disney’s involvement in creating insignia for various military outfits throughout WWII. It is a great book and if you are interested in war or Disney history it is worth the read!

It is a well documented fact that Walt Disney was a big supporter of the U.S. and Allied war efforts  throughout his life. Not only did he serve with the Red Cross driving ambulances in France during WWI but nearly 30 years later he rallied his staff and means to aid the Allied war effort, during WWII. He held deals with the U.S. and Canadian governments to produce films on many subjects from educating soldiers on how to use weapons or spot enemies to the importance of civilians paying taxes on time. One of the lesser known war contributions was Disney Studio artists designing insignia for military units. This went a long way in maintaining soldier morale in battle.

Disney and his artists made around 1200 insignia during WWII (all free of charge of course). They ranged from being animals, insects, anthropomorphized weapons, and even specific Disney characters. In fact the top 3 used Disney characters were Donald Duck(216 appearances), Pluto(45 appearances), and Goofy (more than 40 appearances). Now you may be asking yourself, “What about Mickey?”. Mickey was the next most used character, but typically represented domestic war efforts or aid groups such as the Red Cross (a rare depiction of him in combat is above). No matter the subject used in the insignia it was always the talented artists of Disney Studios that brought them to life to represent their intended recipients either by playing off of the name or their occupation.

Now what you have all been waiting for, THE INSIGNIA! Below are various insignia that serve as a good representation of what was created during WWII.

 

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This ship carried vital supplies all over the Atlantic.

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The earliest insignia were for Mosquito Fleet PT boats that were armed with torpedoes.

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Donald Duck was known for his quick temper so he was a popular choice during war times.

flying-tiger

Represented the Flying Tigers a volunteer group in China.

eagle-squadron

Worn by the Eagle Squadron

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Represents the Airship Squadron that were on the lookout for enemy vessels.

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One of the many representing a bombardment battalion.

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Another bombardment group. Here we see a familiar from Fantasia.

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44th-pursuit

This duo represents a pursuit squadron. Known for their surprise attacks and endurance this design fits perfectly.

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Dumbo was fairly common among the various flying battalions. Here he represents a reconnaissance squadron.

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The U.S.S Jason was a repair ship

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The U.S.S Escambia had the job of refueling other vessels. Here Jose Carioca makes an appearance

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Another common character was the bee for its fierce character and habit of being busy.

 

This is such an interesting subject matter and I really liked learning more about it. The book was well written and thourough in its representation while still conveying the intended lightheartedness of the subject matter. Definitely a rare positive spot in WWII history.

I truly hope you found something you enjoyed. If you would like to see more you can follow the links below or you can always check out your local library.

Cheers!

Brian

 

Purchase book here (just being helpful, I don’t get anything from the sales).

Images  from: USNI News2719 Hyperion

 

 

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