Moments of humor during WWII

Their efforts to communicate with folks back home weren’t always easy for the GIs serving in World War II. Aside from censorship, it was often difficult to tell their families about the grim events and scenes overseas that so many of these soldiers faced. So humorous postcards often proved a popular and welcome form of keeping in touch.

Military Antiques and Museum in Petaluma, California, whose web site is reached worldwide, usually offers to collectors items more often associated with the serious sides of battles. Owner Wally Petersen stresses that the museum’s dedicated efforts are to prove “there are no real winners in war.”

All facets of military life may be found in this emporium, and these include postcards that often poked fun at military life — often in a risqué manner, one that would be considered unacceptable nowadays. Back then, however, they were simply a way to keep in touch and were readily available at the post exchange or ship’s store.

Labeled as sexist and racist today, one can imagine the reactions these cards would now create. They ridiculed the enemy with cartoon figures with exaggerated physical features. Some were regarded as sexually scandalous especially judged by former behaviors and beliefs if not today’s; but in any era they were and are in bad taste though considered relatively “normal” back then. Petersen asks, “Can you imagine the furor both at home and abroad such military post cards mimicking our current enemies would create in this day and age?”

He notes cards such as those pictured here retail for around $3. Some, however, such as the Japanese soldier in the dentist’s chair fetch the higher figure of $12.95. The museum offers a free newsletter by contacting the email address The mailing address is 300 Petaluma Boulevard North, Petaluma, CA 94952 and contact by email is: The museum phone and fax numbers are: 707-763-2220 and 707-763-5964.