CSotD: D-Day the Sixth of June

One of the keys to looking up contemporary coverage of historic moments is that you really have to look at the newspapers of the next day, though if you look at June 6, 1944, the time difference between France and even the East Coast of the United States meant that morning papers who were on their toes had a fair amount of information.

Two things to note: One is that the paper promises an Extra that afternoon to update what information they had gone to press with in what must have been the middle of the night by normal scheduling.

The other is that the paper also has news of the Eastern front, Italy and, of course, the Pacific Theater. D-Day was massively important, but it was not the only show in town.


As for editorial cartoons, distribution issues alone meant that it would take a few days to catch up, and, as the Invasion went forward, cartoonists were focused on the upcoming elections, in which FDR would pursue an unprecedented, but, as Dorman Smith points out, not uncontested fourth term.

Fortunately, the president was in excellent shape. His personal physician even said so. (He died three months after his inauguration.)


Smith greeted the invasion with this stark piece, which appeared in several papers some days later.

Ding Darling was 68 in 1944, but he was still active and several papers also picked up this response to news of the invasion.


Not that he had lost his puckish wit; this one followed a few days later, a reprimand to a nation that had, following the last war, turned away from the chance to form a meaningful League of Nations.


Another cartoonist too old to serve but not too old to call out empty patriotism was Jesse Cargill, and, while there was a common response in newspapers that this would be a good time to buy some war bonds, Cargill put some teeth into the suggestion.


Tom Carlisle, who, in 1949, would take Ding Darling’s place at the Des Moines Register, put out a more conventional appeal for support.


But Carlisle also fretted over the aftermath of the invasion and what he saw as a fragmented and unsatisfactory plan to run things once the Germans had been driven out.


France was also on Edmund Duffy’s mind, and he speculated over how the collaborationist leader of Vichy France was looking on as the nation was being liberated.


Bearing in mind that the secondary invasion in the South of France was yet two months in the future, Duffy nonetheless expected the every man would do his duty.

Meanwhile, in the week following D-Day, Dorman Smith was focused on the Italian front, where the Germans had retreated from Rome but were still well-entrenched in the mountains.


By D-Day, Bill Mauldin had been plucked from his original combat outfit, and, while he was now cartooning for Stars & Stripes, he popped up in civilian papers as well. However, you have to assume that this one got home and in print quite a while after it was drawn and that it is set in Italy, where the remaining shards of Mauldin’s badly battered outfit were still fighting.


Vaughn Shoemaker noted that the second western front put welcome pressure on Hitler.


While this cartoonist, whose signature is illegibly buried in ink at the bottom left, points out all the fronts facing the Germans.


Here that part about Tito’s partisan army is singled out by Jacob Burck, and note the difference in stature between the erstwhile king of Yugoslavia and the man who would eventually take over command entirely. Burck does not seem to have needed a crystal ball.


And Smith reminds us that there was an entirely other theater going on at the same time, with this optimistic observation, as newspaper reports pointed out that Allied forces had now drawn within bomber range of the Philippines.


And, finally, Dick Poythress salutes the invasion with a cartoon that opens the way for today’s moment of zen:


5 thoughts on “CSotD: D-Day the Sixth of June

  1. re “cartoonists were focused on the upcoming elections, in which FDR would pursue an unprecedented, but, as Dorman Smith points out, not uncontested third term.” — that should be *fourth* term.

  2. Many people my age – I was 7 at the end of WWII – can still sing Der Fuehrer’s Face from memory, it was played on the radio so often. Yay! Spike Jones.
    I taught the song to my children, and I hope they’ve done the same favor for theirs, perhaps with an update:
    ‘When the Donald says….’

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