An Artist at War

An Artist at War

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When twenty-nine-year-old artist John Gaitha Browning enlisted in 1942, he was determined to keep a journal recording his observations of army lifea€”from boot camp to combat. He is often wryly humorous: a€œWe figured out recently just how long it would take to get our brigade home on the so-called a€˜rotation plan.a€™ Exactly SIX HUNDRED SIXTY-SEVEN YEARS!a€ More often he is philosophical, as this entry from November 11, 1943 shows: a€œOnly tonight did I have time to realize that this is Armistice Day celebrated for over twenty-five years as the end of war. I wonder what is taking place at home now and if they are celebrating this hollow victory of a quarter century ago.a€ Although his love of art and culture sometimes left him at odds with the younger soldiers, his combat experience taught him an important lesson about humanity: a€œI can learn something valuable by making friends with all of them. In civilian life we would never have met, but in the army we are thrown together, and both may come out wiser if we make an effort to do so.a€ Journals cover from February 6, 1943, in Fort Ord, California, through his journey to Australia; his experiences there in Brisbane and Cairns and then in New Guinea; and his combat experience in the Philippines, ending June 20, 1945.As we left the movie area, the roads leading out were crowded with several hundred men and a lot of trucks and jeeps. Without warning, there was a terrific, earth-shaking blast accompanied by a blinding flash. ... I thought the ack-ack would never get into action, but it finally did, and the giant searchlights stabbed the sky in an effort to pin the ... More bombs exploded, far away now toward Dredga Harbor where the bomber was trying to get a liberty ship for his game bag that night.

Title:An Artist at War
Author:John Gaitha Browning, Oleta Stewart Toliver
Publisher:University of North Texas Press - 1994


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