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Story of G.I. Joe



Overview Portraits Ernie Pyle Burgess Meredith Lester Cowan & Notables The Cadet Nurse Corps Artist SketchesMovie Scenes


Cast, crew and others gather for a group photograph on the set of Story of G.I. Joe.  Over 150 combat veterans of the North African and Sicilian campaigns in WW II played themselves in this film.  Nominated for four Academy Awards, G.I. Joe was an honest treatment of the rigors of combat from the doughfoot's perspective.


It would be difficult, if not impossible, to identify a more loved and respected writer in the sweeping panoply of American journalism than Pulitzer Prize winner Ernie Pyle.  The Story of G.I. Joe is the film adaptation of Pyle's 1943 book "Here Is Your War", a frank discussion of the 1942 North African campaign called "Operation Torch" and the 1942-43 invasion of Sicily called "Operation Husky".  How this film became a reality, so quickly after the book's publication, is an interesting story in the annals of Hollywood.  Filming took place in the last quarter of 1944, and Ned Scott was there with his cameras.  Independent film producer Lester Cowan and Director William Wellman were the key people in the production of the film.


The initial step was writing the book, of course.  Ernie accomplished this in the first half of 1943 before his return to the U.S.A.  in a Pan Am Clipper ship.  George Biddle made the famous sketch of Ernie at Zeralda , a suburb outside the city of Algiers, where Ernie was catching up on his writing tasks and making the finishing touches on the last chapter of "Here Is Your War".  Biddle's sketch wound up on the cover jacket of the book's first printing.   The book immediately became the year's foremest best seller, making Ernie an overnight fortune.  Ernie spent some relaxing time at home in Albuquerque with his wife Jerry and friends, but soon he was making plans to travel again. Very quickly he was approached by independent fim producer Lester Cowan, who wanted to purchase the film rights for the story.  Ernie finally agreed with Cowan's proposal in Washington where he and Cowan met as he waited for his departure back to Italy and the war front once again.


By the time Ernie arrived in Europe, the Allies had invaded Italy itself.  Ernie intended to pay a visit to the Italian front but before that could take place, he was diagnosed with anemia in Naples.  Army medics cured him with injections, leaving him free to continue to the Anzio-Nettuno area to the north.  He had intended to spend only a few days there, but he wound up staying for weeks with the troops in the shell-swept and aricraft bombed beachhead where the Allies were trapped.  Ernie was nearly killed at that time.  Following this troubled sojourn at Anzio, Ernie returned to Naples where he tidied up his writings and prepared to ship out to England for the long awaited invasion of France.  He arrived there in mid-April, 1944. 

While Ernie was thus occupied, Lester Cowan was busy with two things: one, creating the script for the film, and second, finding a suitabe director.  The first task proved to be fairly straight forward.  He selected four men for the script writing job based on Ernie's book: Guy Endore, Phillip Stevenson, Leopold Atlas and Ben Bengal.  With script in hand, off he went to  secure a director.  This task proved to be difficult.  Cowan could have settled for just about anyone as Ernie was so popular and venerated around the country.  But he settled on William Wellman for the role of director.  Wellman appealed mainly because he was a war veteran himself, having performed as an airman with distinction in the Lafayette Flying Corps in France in 1917-18.  Wellman then distinguished himself directing the movie Wings in 1927, the first film to win the coveted Best Picture Award from the very first Oscar award ceremony at the Academy.  But there was a hidden problem which Cowan could not envision, and which caused him great difficulties in securing the services of Wellman as director. 


Right after July 28, 1944, William Wellman was at his home in Brentwood, Caifornia when Lester Cowan knocked on his door.  Wellman had never heard of Cowan, but in he came, uninvited, into Wellamns' home.  Cowan announced that he was a producer of motion pictures, and then he launched into his plans for G.I. Joe, the story about the doughfoot.  Wellman waited for Cowan to run out of steam, and then he declined the offer, nicely.  However, Cowan was not listening, and he would not take no for an answer.  Finally, Wellman put his foot down and told Cowan what was really on his mind.  Wellman touched on his exploits as a pursuit pilot in WWI in France, that he blasted ranks of infantry, both German and French, and that he and his pilots were not popular with the infantry and there was lots of resentment between the groundpounders and the flyboys.  After Wellman's furious rant, Cowan got a little intimidated and he left the house, frightened. 

Next thing, here comes Cowan back to the Wellman front door, much recovered from the earlier encounter, and bearing a letter in his hand for Director Wellman.  Not knowing whether to read it or tear it up, Wellman asked who had sent the letter.  Cowan replied that the letter was from Ernie Pyle.  Wellman had knowledge of Ernie Pyle, of course, but had never read anything written by him.  Knowing that Ernie dealt with the infantry in his writings and knowing how he felt about the infantry after serving as a fighter pilot,  he looked at Cowan, and slammed the door in his face--again.

But the irrepressible Cowan would not be deterred.  A few days later, he was knocking on Wellman's door again.  This time he had gifts in hand for each one of Wellman's children.  This was a remarkable feat considering that there were five of them.  After openng the door only to be confronted yet again with Cowan cum gifts, Wellman immediately slammed the door in Cowan's face, yet one more time.  As Wellman said it, he slammed the door so hard the entire house reverberated and shuddered, and Cowan dropped several of the gifts he was carrying. With this kind of reception, one might think that Cowan would get the message and try for another director.  Not Cowan, he was just getting started.  Time to shift gears.

Referring to Cowan as a "persistent bastard", Wellman discussed the next step Cowan would take to enlist the services of Wellman the Director.  That evening, after the last door-slamming incident, Wellman was at home and the phone rang.  It was a long distance call from Albuquerque--none other than Ernie Pyle himself. Ernie had arrived home from the D-day front right after the liberation of Paris on August 25, 1944. 

It was the change which made the difference for Wellman.  Ernie was on the phone, talking, and Wellman listened.  Ernie explained that Cowan had informed him of the previous interesting experiences which had taken place at Wellman's home, and that he (Wellman) had refused point blank to even discuss the story.  Ernie invited Wellman to come for a visit to his home in Albuquerque, saying that he wanted a chance to tell the story of the film in an effort to make Wellman realize the need for this picture and "what it would mean to the thousands of kids that were fighting for his and my country".  This is the only statement anywhere which relates to Ernie's feelings about the film and its importance to the combat soldier.  Ernie was pushing for the film just as strongly as Cowan, but for very different reasons.


Two days after that phone call, Wellman caught a plane to Albuquerque and Ernie met him at the airport.  They climbed into Ernie's "old Chevy" and drove to a nearby suburb full of FHA houses, all alike in style, and pulled into the driveway of Ernie's house which he had just painted himself.  Wellman was to stay two nights and two days at Ernie's, and after that time passed, Wellman was committred to the project.  What made the difference, and what clinched the deal for Wellman, was what happened when the he and Ernie went to a "comfy little home-cooked dinner-style cafe".  While eating, Wellman did most of the talking for a change.  But he noticed that nearby at another table sat two G.I.'s, also eating their meal.  These men recognized Ernie, it was obvious to Wellman, but they were too polite to interrupt Ernie at his dinner.  They left before he and Ernie did, and Wellman noticed that they glanced at Ernie one more time as they exited the cafe through the door, sharing a few words between themselves.   Wellman made a note of their expression as they looked at Ernie, and there was something there which Wellman said he would never forget. 

Both Ernie and he got up to leave, and as they walked out of the cafe, they noticed that these two G.I.'s were still around; but they had passed the word and about a dozen more G.I.'s had gathered in a little group.  This group was silent and unmoving, just watching Ernie and Wellman exit the cafe.  They were waiting and hoping that Ernie would notice them.  Ernie being Ernie, of course he did, and Wellman respectfully kept his distance as Ernie walked over to talk with them.  Some of these men carried copies of Ernie's book Here Is Your War or his newest one, Brave Men.  Wellman could tell that they wanted Ernie to autograph these books.  Ernie shook hands with each man, had a little talk with each one, and he wrote a little something in their books. 

As he and Ernie drove away from the cafe scene, Wellman looked back at the little group of G.I.'s.  One was reading his inscription Ernie had just written, and as Wellman tells it, when he finished, the whole group burst into roaring laughter.  But Wellman could not hear that laughter from the retreating car, but he knew it was there from the way everyone was acting.  

This is what made the difference to Wellman.   Always taking notice of little things like gestures and expressions as being signs of deeper meaning, Wellman had much on his plate to think about.  That Ernie was connected in a very special way to the G.I. meant a great deal to Wellman.  Ernie was the real deal, and that was all Wellman needed to know.  

The next afternoon, Cowan showed up, breezed into Ernie's house like he owned the place.  There Ernie engaged in a long talk about his experiences in the war.  With Cowan and Wellman as audience, Ernie began to discuss all his experiences in North Africa, Italy and France.  Ernie reviewed the activities of D-Day, the medics, the engineers, the artillery guys, dive bombers and the ranks of infantry.  After Ernie's rhapsodizing, Wellman began to really feel at home with the idea of directing the film.


Three weeks later, Ernie was in Hollywood, on the set of the new film, to polish the new script. Most likely at Ernie's suggestion and Wellman' insistence, Cowan ageed to involve many of Ernie's war correspondence and journalism buddies in the production.  Hal Boyle and Paige Cavanaugh had helpful roles as research technicians.  Nine active War Correspondents were there, and they appeared as themselves in the film. Others just showed up from time to time to pay their respects to the production.  So it was that many of these men appear in Ned Scott's photographs even though they were not credited cast members or technically, crew members.  Their identities are difficult using just the photographs as a base of information, but where this is clear, I have made note of their names.  

Director Wellman gathered the combat veterans together for a speech before formal filming got underway.  "Fellas, there's a couple of things to clear up, and a few to explain. I know you all have heard how I got into this, because of one man, Ernie Pyle.  I think as much of him as you do, and it was through him that I got the great desire to make G.I. Joe.  Not just a picture, but something that you, Ernie, and I will be proud of. That's a big expensive job, and that's why you are here, that's why the actors have been training with you, so they will look like you, handle themselves the way you do.  That's also why a lot of you fellas will be playing scenes, speaking lines.  I want to make this the goddamnedest most honest picture that has ever been made about the doughfoot." 

And the last, really cool point about this film: Wellman's wife, Dorothy, herself the mother of five children, played the role of Nurse Lt. "Red" Murphy who "marries" Pvt. "Wingless" Murphy during the course of the plot.  Director Wellman had given his all for this production, and one can say, even his wife. 


Mr. Chester Nowlen, son of Cpl. Pappy Nowlen

Ned Scott was equipped with a variety of cameras.  For this film, he used his Ansco 8 x 10 view camera for all the off set shots and portraits.  For the action shots on set, he used smaller format cameras.  Many of the images here are therefore products of smaller cameras.  This does not diminish their impact, however.

The cover photograph atop this page fits that description.  It was taken at the Iverson Movie Ranch which is located in the high desert of Southern California.  By contrast, the image to the left, showing Corporal Chester (Pappy) Nowlen leering at Axis Sally, is an off-set, posed scene taken by the 8 x 10.  Pappy's son, Chet Nowlen, kindly provided the cover image (for use here) which he used in his blog about his father. 


Shelley Mitchell, who plays "Axis Sally", Nazi propagandist. Shelley was picked for the role because she had a seductive, bedroom voice.

Shelley Mitchell

Pvt. Fred Ross, combat veteran with the 18th Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division

Pvt. Fred Ross

Yolanda Lacca, the Italian girl, became the love interest for Wally Cassell's character, Pvt. Dondaro, in a Southern Italian town after it was freed by the Allies.

Yolanda Lacca

Ernie Pyle Photographs

Ernie Pyle was on the set of The Story G.I. Joe during the early phases of movie production.  His chief role was polishing the script already created prior to his arrival, and in this effort, he participated with a number of other parties who also appeared on the set.  Among them were his old friends from the journalism business, writers Page Cavanaugh and Lee Miller.  When the script was finally ready, Director William Wellman pronounced it  a "hooting script" and filming got underway.  While this process was ongoing, Ned Scott sought opportunities to use his cameras to document the process.  These proved fruitful, and a number of images emerged which demonstrate the participation of other professionals in the film's creation, none of whom were cast members.  So it was that Ernie Pyle, himself a very photographed and recognizable person, wound up in a large group of images which have little to do with actual filming of the movie.   Some of these, as will be seen, carry a whisp of foreboding without intending to be so.  Ned Scott was always searching for the best form to convey meaning, and things just turned out that way.  

According to Lee Miller,  Ernie habitually went two or three days without shaving.  He could often be seen with a visible stubble, as seen here.  Portrait from the set of The Story of G.I. Joe. According to Lee Miller,  Ernie habitually went two or three days without shaving.  He could often be seen with a visible stubble, as seen here.  Portrait from the set of The Story of G.I. Joe. Ernie Pyle poses for Ned Scott under the bas-relief statue of the Virgin Mary.  Nothing was suggested by Ned Scott when he posed Ernie for this image, just the form complemented the man.  Though Ernie looks larger here, he only weighed in at 110 pounds. While working on the movie set, Ned Scott could always be found chewing on a match stick, an Ohio Bue Tip match stick to be precise.  And when he was not chewing on a stick, he was lighitng up and enjoying one of his Kent cigarettes.  Ernie Pyle and Burgess Meredith decided to imitate Ned Scott with synchronous poses for this photograph.  It was a light moment, one of many, and it speaks to the sense of comradery these men all felt toward one another on the set of Story of G.I. Joe. Pausing for a moment's reflection, Ernie Pyle, author of Here Is Your War and Burgess Meredith, star of the upcoming movie Story of G.I. Joe share thoughts while on the movie set.
Lee Miller extends a courtesy to Ernie Pyle, lighting his cigarrette while both men take a monent's pause while on the movie set of Story of G.I. Joe.  Dressed in their War Correspondent's uniforms, both men assisted in the making of the film by polishing the script.  And the presence of Ernie Pyle energized the combat war veterans who participated in the film as cast members.  Both men were very good friends having been in the news business together for many years.  There is an ease, an intimacy shown here between these two which only the ritual of lighting a cigarrette can properly convey. Burgess Meredith, star of Story of G.I. Joe, walks the movie set with Ernie Pyle who is dressed in his AWC (American War Correspondent) uniform, discussing the upcoming filming of the movie. Burgess Meredith discusses Ernie Pyle's new book Here Is Your War with Ernie Pyle on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe.  Meredith had been furloughed from active duty as a captain in the U. S. Army by the War Department, and here he is wearing his regulation uniform with captain's rank insignia.  Meredith plays the role of Ernie Pyle in the movie. Ernie Pyle and one of the soldiers relax between filming of the movie.  Surrounding Ernie are authentic weapons and battle gear from the film production. Ernie Pyle takes a break on the bombed out set of the movie Story of G. I. Joe.  Leaning against metal stack, Ernie sizes up the situation while dressed in his War Correspondent's uniform. Ernie Pyle talks with the children who were visiting the set of Story of G.I. Joe.  These were the children of Tom Treanor, a distinguished war correspondent, who was Ernie's contemporary and friend in the European theater of the war.  The children's names are Tommy, 11, John, 9 and Cordelia, 6.  Mrs. Tom Treanor, the correspondent's widow, looks on with satisfaction and approval.  Tom Treanor lost his life covering the conflict.
One of Ernie's fellow War Correspondents assigned to the film production of The Story of G. I. Joe teases Ernie about his regulation haircut and knit hat which Ernie always wore at the front. Burgess Meredith who played the role of Ernie in the film, looks on with approval.  On the set during filming, Meredith wore this hat or one identical to it for authenticity. Ernie chats with Morrie Riskind on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe.  Riskind, himself a Pulitzer Prize winner and a distinguished playwright, wound up of the set of The Story of G.I. Joe to assist in polishing the script for Director William Wellman and Independent film producer Lester Cowan. Ernie Pyle interviews Pvt. Kenneth Fowler of the 34th Infantry Division, a combat veteran of the North African and Sicilian campaigns of 1942-43.  Ernie Pyle performed many similar interviews while serving as a U.S. War Correspondent during his tour of duty with the U.S. Army.  These interviews formed the basis of his many news dispatches sent to outlets back in the United States.  And these together with his own stories of his many weeks at the front create the core of his famous book , Here Is Your War, on which the film The Story of G.I. Joe is based. Ernie Pyle poses with Corporal James Slayton, one of the most decorated G.I.'s of World War II.  At Camp Baldwin, the headquarters for the infantry company which appeared in The Story of G.I. Joe, the track which circumnavigated the camp was renamed Pyle Road in Ernie's honor.  With arms outstretched , a  bas-relief statue of the Virgin Mary gathers protectively behind Ernie Pyle as he poses on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe.  Ned Scott was making a hopeful statement with this prosaic pose.  Keep Ernie Safe.  In October and November of 1944 when this photograph was taken, no one could have predicted the tragic fate which would befall Ernie has he ventured to the Pacific Theater in 1945 on non-combatant duty as a U.S. War Correspondent. Lee G. Miller, former editor of the Washington Daily News and Ernie Pyle relax on the set of "The Story of G.I. Joe" as they observe filming in progress.  Lee Miller and Ernie had been friends for many years in the news business.  Both Miller and Paige Cavanaugh, another of Ernie's close news buddies joined Ernie on the set of the film as paid consultants.  Producer Lester Cowan no doubt agreed to this idea which most  likely emerged in the many discussions surrounding the final tweaking of the movie script.
Ernie Pyle relaxes with Special Forces Army officers (Rangers), combat veterans of the D-Day Campaign, on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe. Ernie Pyle, here wearing his War Correspondent's uniform, relaxes with actor Burgess Meredith on the film set of "The Story of G.I. Joe."  In the film Meredith plays the role of Ernie Pyle, decorated war correspondent, during the Allies drive to Rome after landing on the boot of the Italian Penninsula in WWII.  Ernie stayed about three weeks on set while the film was in porduction, then he shipped out to the West Pacific where he ulitmately lost his life at the hands of a Japanese sniper.  Director William Wellman's epic war drama "The Story of G.I. Joe", 1945.

Burgess Meredith Portrays Ernie Pyle in The Story of G.I. Joe

One can get a sense of the role of the U.S. Correspondent in combat by reviewing these photographs of Burgess Meredith as he plays the role of Ernie Pyle in The Story of G.I. Joe. A good deal of the correspondent's daily life revolved around those activites of the front line combat soldiers.  The rest of the time the correspondent was busy with rear eschelon work such as writing up articles for news outlets and visiting places like hospital installations, themselves temporary to varying degrees based on quality of function.  Then to ensure that their dispatches were sent out successfully, correspondents would travel to the nearest Signal Corps emplacement, or, failing that, they would track down a Corpsman on their own while behind the lines.  On rare occasions, people like Erie Pyle would find themselves at lunch with Army brass, in a salvaged hotel in a captured city like Bizerte, talking things over.  It was at those times that Ernie would wallow in the luxury of a hot shower, and a bed with a mattress. 

By far, however, most of his time was spent with the soldier in the soldier's melieu at or near the front.  The essence of these photographs from The Story of G.I. Joe demonstrates that the correspondent did not lead a pampered life at the front, and certainly that was true of Ernie Pyle.  Often these men shared the privations of their combat-ready front line comrades, dodging bombs and artillery shells shot from enemy positions miles away and dropped from enemy aircraft charging at their positions overhead.  Any hole or trench was a haven.  Much time was spent in these positions until enemy action faded.  Undaunted, soldiers (and Ernie with them) would carry on with dining, smoking, and reading mail if there was enough light. 

Burgess Meredith, as Ernie Pyle, enjoys a bite of C rations on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe.  Ernie often heated his rations by using gasoline.  He would dig a little hole in the dirt or sand, place some gas into the hole, cover it again with sand, and light it.  The gas would burn slowly enough for him to heat a can of food or a cup of coffee.  Ernie preferred the British COMPO rations to the U.S. Army C rations because there was more variety.  Many G.I.'s, right after landing in Oran (where Ernie came ashore during Operation Torch) would give away portions of their C rations to ragged Arab children who followed the G.I.'s around relentlessly. There's nothing like a cigarette to comfort the battle weary war correspondent in The Story of G.I. Joe.  Burgess Meredith as Ernie Pyle gets ready to light up during a tough day at the front.  No cigarettes were allowed at night due to the ever vigilant enemy artillery spotters who would quickly zone in on such a target.  According to Lee Miller in his 1946 book, An Ernie Pyle Album, Ernie always wore a woven hat identical to this one out in the field. Camp dogs were everything to the combat soldier at the front.  Here Burgess Meredith plays Ernie Pyle in The Story of G.I. Joe holding the camp's mascot dog during a rainy and cold moment at the front.  Burgess Meredith was already serving in the U.S. Army on active duty as a Captain when Lester Cowan approached him to take the role of Ernie Pyle.  The Army released Meredith on an honorable discharge so he could take the role, but that occurred only after presidential adviser Harry Hopkins greased the way and George C. Marshall approved the discharge personally. U.S. War Correspondents play themselves as news arrives that Ernie Pyle had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism from U.S. War Correspondents play themselves in a reenactment of receiving news that Ernie Pyle had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism  in The Story of G.I. Joe.
U.S. War Correspondents play themselves as they celebrate the news that Ernie Pyle had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism from The Story of G.I. Joe. Sharing a cigarette with his Army buddies, Burgess Meredith as Ernie Pyle underscores the fact that he shared the privations of his regular soldiers while they were hunkering down in an improvised shelter, safe from enemy action, during inclement weather.Burgess Meredith portrays a relaxed Ernie Pyle, cigar in hand, somewhere on the front lines in Northern Africa during Operation Torch in Director William Wellman's biographical wartime drama, "The Story of G.I. Joe", 1945.

Lester Cowan and Notables

Independent film producer Lester Cowan was the driving force behind the movie The Story of G.I. Joe. As a matter of course, film producers hardly ever show up in still photographs in the film industry. However, in The Story of G.I. Joe, this proved to be the exception. Ned Scott worked for Lester Cowan from 1942-44 on two other films besides Story of G.I. Joe.  These films were Commandoes Strike At Dawn (1942) and Tomorrow The World (1944).  Research into these films has not, so far, produced any images in which Lester Cowan can be seen.  One can conclude from this fact that it was not for self-gratification that Cowan chose to be photographed so many times.  Once again it becomes apparent that it was the magnetic presence of Ernie Pyle which created such a mood around the movie set on the Selznick lot in Culver City and the Iverson Movie Ranch in the California high desert.  Having combat veterans present and busy in acting roles was no doubt a strong influence as well. 

Bob Hope, Ernie Pyle and a lady member of the British Army Reserve Corps  share a few thoughts on the set of The Story of G.I.  Joe.  Bob Hope played himself in his role as a radio voice for the film. Cinematographer Russel Metty on the left, poses with associate producer David Hall and composer Ann Ronell as they flank the 35mm camera. George Lait, U.S. War Correspondent with the International News Service, chats with officers on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe while the film crew in the background prepares for a scene.  George Lait was present on the set along with eight other correspondents at the suggestion of Ernie Pyle.  These men all played themselves in various scenes in the film.  Next to Lait  are combat veterans Col. J.G. McGammon and Lt. Col. Henry.  Both officers served with distinction under General Joe Stillwell on the CBI front (China-Burma-India). Lester Cowan, seated, is flanked on the left by Captain Burgess Meredith, recently furloughed from active duty by the War Department for his role in The Story of G.I. Joe, and Ernie Pyle, U.S. War Correspondent from Scripps-Howard News Service.  In the film, Meredith played the the role of Ernie Pyle. Ned Scott took this photograph in an office at Selznick International Studios in Culver City, California. Lester Cowan reviews the script for The Story of G.I. Joe while  Lt. Peter Dietrichson of the Norwegian Merchant Marine Service looks on.  Lt. Dietrichson was recently signed to appear in a new film starring Greta Garbo. Lester Cowan on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe enjoying a moment with combat veterans of the 34th Infantry Division.  An Army officer and various soldiers admire the camp mascot dog, a regular feature of camp life at the front in Northern Africa and Italy.
Lee Miller, seated, and Paige Cavanaugh, longtime friends of Ernie Pyle from the earlier days in news service, review and discuss the script for The Story of G.I. Joe.  Both had been hired by Lester Cowan as consultants.  They helped tune the script with Ernie Pyle.  A portrait of Ernie looms behind them as they work. Make-up artist  Bud Westmore treats a member of the British Army Reserve to a brush-up on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe Solidarity against Nazi oppression is the theme of this image from The Story of G.I. Joe.  This film was one more thing Ernie Pyle could do for his boys, something which would immortalize the spirit of the regular U.S. Army soldier.  Between the two army privates, Ross and Jennings, march film Director William Wellman and Cadet Nurse Beulah Tyler.  Photographer Ned Scott envisioned this image as a metaphor for the film itself and a powerful statement of Ernie Pyle's purpose.

The Cadet Nurse Corps

Created by the Bolton Act of July 1, 1943, the Cadet Nurse Program was designed to strengthen the pool of nurses available for duty with the U.S. Army. It was obvious to all that by that time in World War II, with the U.S. operating a two front war in far flung regions of the globe, the need for qualified nurses was heightened to a critical level. This law helped to solve the nurse shortage problem.

The law focused on existing nursing schools around the nation. There were 1300 accredited nursing schools operating at that time. 1125 of these schools participated in this program. Students in these schools received accelerated training under the program, and while still students, they were required to serve in military and civilian communities on the home front as nurse substitutes for the duration of the war. In return, qualified nurse cadets in this program received subsidized school tuition, associated expenses, and a shortened time period for graduation. Graduating nurses were released immediately for military service overseas, thus replenishing the pool of qualified nurses in military service.

On the set of The Story of G.I. Joe, Nurse Cadet Beulah Tyler represented the core importance of this program to the success of fighting units of the U.S. Army. While it's true that at the editing stage of the film the Cadet Nurse footage was cropped, the influence of Beulah Tyler on all parties associated with the production was inspiring and enriching. Ned Scott was sensitive to these emotional undercurrents, and he took every opportunity to captuse that aspect with his cameras. It is for this reason that Beulah is seen in many different settings, both alone and with others. It was important to him to highlight the fact that she modeled for the Cadet Nurse recruitment poster, a fact which is evident in his images.

Cadet Nurse Beulah Tyler reviews Ernie Pyle's book Here Is Your War with independent film Producer Lester Cowan on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe.  This office was located at Selznick Internatinal Studios in Culver City, California. Cadet Nurse Beulah Tyler gets an earful from Burgess Meredith who plays the role of Ernie Pyle in The Story of G.I. Joe.  Cadet Nurse Beulah Tyler poses with the Cadet Nurse recruitment poster in The Story of G.I. Joe.  If all these faces seem the same, there's a reason: Beulah Tyler modeled for the poster. A complete glimpse of the Cadet Nurse Corps recruitment poster is on display in this portrait of Cadet Beulah Tyler in The Story of G.I. Joe. Cadet Nurse Beulah Tyler poses for Ned Scott in her official Corps uniform with regulaton patch in The Story of G.I. Joe. Cadet Nurse Beulah Tyler shares a bite with combat veterans from the 34th Division on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe.  From left to right are Cpl. Chester (Pappy) Nowlen, Pvt. Charles Rozell and Pvt. Fred Ross.  Because special dispensation was provided to these combat vets for their participation in the film, the War Department allowed them to grow beards if they wished.  During actual combat in North Africa, that was the case, anyway.  Director Wellman cheered this fact because, as he put it, I want to make this the goddamndedest most honest picture that has ever been made about the doughfoot.
Cadet Nurse Beulah Tyler poses with Nurse Lieutenant Red Murphy on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe.  Red Murphy was played by Director William Wellman's wife, Dorothy (Dottie) Coonan. Cadet Nurse Beulah Tyler loosens up with combat veterans of the First Division on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe.  From left to right are seated Corporal Chester (Pappy)  Nowlen, Pvt. Fred Ross , Sgt. Charles Rozell, Pvt. Jim Cosso and Nurse Lt. Red Murphy.

Artist Sketches

U.S War Correspondents who were present on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe offered themselves as models for sketch artists on a patio, most likely on the grounds of the Selznick International Studios in Culver City, California. The finished sketches were sent to the movie's debut in Indianapolis, Indiana which took place on July 6, 1944. Here they were auctioned. All proceeds went to the Ernie Pyle Fund for Journalism Scholarships at the University of Indiana, Pyle's Alma Mater.

Unknown artist sketches George Lait of International News Service. Patio scene in which artists create sketches of U. S. War Correspondents who were currently working in active combat zones. Unknown artist sketches Jack Foisie of Stars and Stripes. John Vickery sketches Hal Boyle of the Associated Press.

G.I. Joe movie scenes

Capt. Walker (stand in for Capt. Waskow) demands at the point of his machine gun that the supply officer issue turkey for Christmas dinner as Ernie Pyle (played by Burgess Meredith) looks on. Scene from The Story of G.I. Joe. Ernie Pyle (played by Burgess Meredith)wisecracks with officers and men in a light moment at one of the camps at the front.Ernie Pyle (played by Burgess Meredith) wisecracks fighting men in a light moment at one of the camps at the front.  From left to right, the G.I.'s are: Pvt. Angleo Arena, Jack Reilly, Bill Murphy, Freddie Steele, Wally Cassell, Pvt. Jim Peters, William Benedict, Pvt. Bill Jacoby, Jimmie Lloyd, Pvt. Louis Casso, and Pvt John Duffy.  Scene from Lester Cowan's authentic wartime drama 'The Story of G.I. Joe.' 1945 An army platoon takes cover behind an abandoned 75mm artillery piece in the movie Story of G.I. Joe.  It is no accident that these men arrange themselves just this way to avoid sniper fire from emplaced enemy soldiers in the area.Robert Mitchum in his role as Capt. Henry Waskow prepares to throw a hand grenade at enemy positions in the film Story of G.I. Joe.  This photograph is the talisman image of the film and it is found today in posters, DVD covers and publication headers for the film.
Cpl. Chester (Pappy) Nowlen and Sgt. Fred Sprague share a light moment as combatants on the set of Story of G.I. Joe.  Pappy has just opened a Christmas present sent from the folks back home, and both men get a chuckle out of the absurdity of such a gift.  According to Ernie Pyle's book Here Is Your War, such gifts were commonplace.  But often, gifts were just right: canned food specialties, medicines, cigarettes, etc.   Canned pineapple was a favorite for the troops. In this scene for the film Story of G.I. Joe, army cooks flanked by armed soldiers serve hot food to refugees whose homes were destroyed in a recent battle.  One of the major objectives of Director William Wellman was to convey battlefield authenticity, complete with scenes such as these which occurred in real life in Southern Italy and Northern Africa on a regular basis as the Allies advanced in their quest to oust the Germans and Italians.  Burgess Meredith's character Ernie Pyle takes the chance to talk to soldiers as they rest briefly between combat duties at the Tunisian front, from The Story of G.I. Joe Combat at the front was spartan conditions, even brutal when cold weather hit.  Burgess Meredith's character Ernie Pyle endures hardships at the front with his soldiers, from the Story of G.I. Joe.  At the front, troops took advantage of any feature of the terrain to shelter themselves both from weather and from enemy aircraft and artillery action.
Director William Wellman, at left of camera, directs a rehearsal of a scene for Ernie Pyle's "Story of G.I. Joe" involving actual "GI's" whom the U.S. Army lent for important battle scenes in Lester Cowan's production.  Second assitant director, Jimmy Petch, stands in the foreground with a very determined expression.  Director William Wellman's authentic wartime drama, "The Story of G.I. Joe", 1945. Christmas dinner at the front in The Story of G.I. Joe.  Food was always a big issue, and anything fresh was rare.  When such a meal was presented, G.I.'s were enthusiastic eaters.  Burgess Meredith plays Ernie Pyle who shares the soldier's meals at the front. The Story of G.I. Joe.  Food was always a big issue, and anything fresh was rare.  When such a meal was presented, G.I.'s were enthusiastic eaters.  Burgess Meredith plays Ernie Pyle who shares the soldier's meals at the front. Pvt Archie Connell, combat veteran with the 18th Infantry Regiment,  the 34th Infantry Division plays himself in The Story of G.I. Joe After a successful forward surge by the company at the front, Burgess Meredith as Ernie Pyle takes a moment to relax in the shelled remains of a building in a small Italian town.  Meredith is actually sitting in the back seat of a car, the only part of the car still remaining after the attack. Scene from The Story of G.I. Joe. An Army private, combat veteran with the 34th Infantry Division, relaxes in the crotch of a shelled masonry wall with a cigar after a successful attack at the front.  Scene from The Story of G.I. Joe.
Fellow soldiers congratulate Wingless Murphy and Nurse Lt. Red Murphy on their wedding at the front.  Scene from The Story of G.I. Joe. Exhaustion dogged the soldiers on front line campaigns.  Supplies like food and fresh water were scarce at times, and on occasion, marching went on for days with heavy loads.  Here Burgess Meredith as Ernie Pyle confers with a combat sergeant in front of a map of the Kasserine Pass, Tunisia. Scene from The Story of G.I. Joe. A combat private, veteran of the North African and Sicilian Campaigns,  patiently awaits developments at the front, rifle at the ready, always on the lookout for snipers.   Scene from The Story of G.I. Joe. Wally Cassell as Pvt. Dondaro romances Yolanda Lacca, the Italian Girl in The Story of G.I. Joe.Robert Mitchum as Capt. Walker (stand-in for Capt. Waskow) confers with his sergeant while takng cover. Pvt.  Billy Benedict as himself, Captain Walker (Robert Mitchum) and Ernie Pyle (Burgess Meredith) crowd into a protective position, with Thompson machine guns at the ready, while they surveil the enemy activities a short distance away. Robert Mitchum plays the much respected Lieutenant Walker, here standing at the ready with his 50 cal Thompson machine gun. Lt. Walker is killed in action during the battle for  Sicily in 1942. Director William Wellman"s "The Story of G.I. Joe", 1945. Burgess Meredith, playing the role of war corresondent Ernie Pyle, shares a sheltered moment with Pvt. Archie Ross (with rifle) during a lull in the combat action.  Behind these soldiers is the small Italian village which the allies have just taken back from the Germans as they advance toward Rome in Director William Wellman's realistic wartime drama, "The Story of G.I. Joe", 1945. tag Sgt. Warniki, played by Freddy Steele, emerges from a domicile in a captured town in Italy with a phonograph, an item he has been looking for ever since his stateside wife sent him a recording with his toddler son's voice.  Scene from Director William Wellman's wartime authentic wartime drama, "The Story of G.I. Joe", 1945.